Comox Valley social activist Wayne Bradley dies after short battle with cancer

Comox Valley social activist Wayne Bradley dies after short battle with cancer

Wayne and Janet Fairbanks  |  Photo courtesy of Canadians.org

Comox Valley social activist Wayne Bradley dies after short battle with cancer

By ROGER ALBERT

Wayne Bradley passed away on April 3rd of this year. He was informed by his GP in mid-March, after consultation and imaging that he had a growth on his pancreas and nodules on his liver. Pancreatic cancer metastasized to the liver is absolutely unforgiving especially with a late diagnosis. It has the reputation of being a cancer that kills quickly. In Wayne’s case, there was barely three weeks between diagnosis and his death at the hospice in Comox.

Wayne was two years and a day younger than me. We were both involved in social activism of one sort or another. You may have seen Wayne with Janet (his wife) selling coffee and chocolates at various events in the Valley. Carolyn and I were quizmasters at the Cumberland Forest Society’s trivia nights some time ago now, on one occasion, Wayne and Janet were there at the back of the hall with a table set up to sell World Community products. They only did the coffee and choc sales once at Trivia but had those sales regularly at Miners’ Memorial events such as Songs of the Workers.

The last time I spoke with Wayne was on our deck on the occasion of a Home and Garden Show in 2019. This was Carolyn’s last appearance in the Cumberland Forest Society Home and Garden Show. We sat around drinking tea and chatting. I was not doing well at that time and a diagnosis of multiple myeloma in October provided the reason for my ill health. I recall that Wayne was very keen to talk about electric vehicles. We were definitely interested in electric vehicles but were cautious about making that kind of investment one of the reasons being that the property was not wired for it. It is now, but we’ve moved on because of my cancer diagnosis and other reasons.

My type of bone marrow cancer leaves me completely exhausted and dizzy. That, on top of the pandemic, made it so that we were pretty much in isolation. So the summer of 2019 was the last time we saw Wayne and Janet. We (our son-in-law) bought tickets to the World Community Film Festival this past February but that was an online event.

Wayne suffered from abdominal, back pain and utter exhaustion in the last weeks of his life. That is common with pancreatic cancer, but Janet told me that strokes are also common with this disease. I had no idea. Wayne suffered a debilitating stroke on March 30th, and he was gone in just a few days.

Death in these circumstances is expected but still shocks. We all die, but the circumstances will have something to do with how well the family is prepared for a close relative dying. My type of cancer is treatable with chemotherapy and can go on for years, plenty of time to prepare for dying but when I die I’m sure it will still be a shocker for the family. Unlike myeloma, pancreatic cancer doesn’t generally allow for years of grieving. In a way that may be a blessing.

Wayne was a great guy. He was committed to his community and worked tirelessly for the good of his community but also for communities far and wide, those involved in the coffee and chocolate trade. Janet was Wayne’s partner at World Community but both were involved in other initiatives over the years. They were seldom far from the action.

Hearing of Wayne’s illness and death was certainly a shock. Cancer is often very difficult to diagnose and once diagnosed it’s often too late to do anything about it. According to Johns Hopkins Hospital, eighty percent of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed at Stage IV, when the prognosis is bleak.

Wayne will be sorely missed by family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. He was a man of integrity, strength and determination. He was a good man.

Reprinted with permission by Roger Albert. You can read more from Roger Albert’s blog here.

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Blowing smoke: Campaign to overturn wood stove bylaws called misleading, ineffective

Blowing smoke: Campaign to overturn wood stove bylaws called misleading, ineffective

Burning wood has a romantic aura about it for some, but for others, the smoke causes multiple, serious health hazards  |  George Le Masurier photo

Blowing smoke: Campaign to overturn wood stove bylaws called misleading, ineffective

BY GEORGE LE MASURIER AND GAVIN MacRAE

This article has been updated.

The days when Comox Valley people burned wood for cooking and heating out of necessity have long gone. But the romantic notion of chopping and stacking firewood to burn in fireplaces and woodstoves over damp West Coast winters has lingered on in the Comox Valley. The Village of Cumberland even celebrates woodstove culture with an annual festival.

But what was once a means of survival is now regarded as a health hazard.

Smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces is the largest driver of the Comox Valley’s air pollution, creating winter air quality that is at times some of the worst in the province. Temperature inversions, the shape of the Comox Valley and periods of calm air in winter all contribute to the problem, according to the regional district.

And it is this resulting haze that is linked to a litany of health problems.

Ultrafine particles – called PM 2.5 – penetrate deep into lung tissue and can trigger heart attacks, strokes, worsen asthma, and diminish lung function. Long-term exposure to wood smoke can cause emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis, and heighten the risk of dementia and cancer.

“We are not going backwards” — Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird

Children are particularly affected. The ultrafine particulates in wood smoke have been shown to lower birth weights, increase infant mortality and stunt lung development and function.

To cap this harmful pollution, Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland have all passed bylaws since 2018 banning wood stove installations in new homes. Courtenay and Comox bylaws go further, prohibiting wood stoves in renovations as well.

That’s raised the hackles of the Hearth Patio & Barbeque Association of Canada (HPBAC). The Ontario-based trade group, with members in the Comox Valley, recently launched a media campaign to have Comox Valley’s wood stove bans overturned.

On a new website and in radio and print advertising, the HPBAC says the bans unfairly prohibit residents from installing new “clean burning” wood stoves certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The “Overturn the Ban” campaign website also stresses the economy of wood heat, claims local wood stove businesses will “suffer unnecessarily” under a ban, and declares that “Burning wood is a way of life.”

The HPBAC did not respond to an interview request by the publication deadline.

Smoke from woodstoves is the top cause of poor air quality during Comox Valley winters | Ravi Pinisetti photo, Unsplash

 

A MISLEADING CAMPAIGN

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells has called the woodstove industry’s campaign misleading.

“The majority of emails I’ve received from the public on this topic are from people who assume the City of Courtenay is banning all wood stoves, based on the ad campaign that’s been running in the Comox Valley,” Wells told Decafnation.

But in fact, Courtenay City Council has updated its Building Bylaw to prohibit the installation of wood stoves in new construction and requires a building permit to fix or replace an existing wood-burning appliance to ensure that the new appliance meets CSA standards.

“Council will not revisit this decision,” Wells said.

And he has requested the industry association to alter their campaign to remove the claim that local governments do not allow upgrades.

Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird said the industry campaign to overturn the local bans on wood stoves in new construction “is not sending the right message to residents.”

“Each council (Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland) did their due diligence in making their decision,” she told Decafnation. “I am not reconsidering my position and I will not ask Council to reconsider our decision.”

Baird said Cumberland councillors listened to Public Health Officials about the adverse effects of woodsmoke, including the latest reports and studies on the cost to the BC healthcare system.

“How many years did it take for citizens to realize the effects of cigarettes on our health?” she said. “This is the same issue.”

Comox Mayor Russ Arnott refused to comment for this story.

Comox Valley Regional District Chair Jesse Ketler said that regional directors reviewed scientific studies and local air quality testing results before making their decision to offer rebates for replacing five-year-old or more woodstoves used for home heating with a cleaner fuel source, such as gas, pellet, propane or electric heat pump devices.

“As local government, we care about our airshed and have taken steps to reduce local air pollution. These are science-based decisions that are not likely to be reversed but could be improved with further input from our regional Airshed Roundtable,” Ketler said.

 

INDUSTRY CLAIMS REFUTED

“Newer wood stoves meet stringent EPA emission standards,” said the industry’s Overturn The Ban website, that fall “well within or below acceptable particulate emissions standards per hour.”

But that’s not so, according to a landmark report published in March by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), a coalition of eight U.S. state air quality regulators.

After auditing the EPA’s testing and certification regime and re-testing over 250 EPA-certified stoves, the Boston-based organization found a “systemic failure of the entire certification process, including EPA’s oversight and enforcement of its requirements.”

That failure means there is “no confidence” that new EPA-certified stoves spew fewer particulates than the old appliances they are replacing, the report said.

“The unavoidable conclusion of this report is that EPA’s certification program to ensure new wood heaters meet clean air requirements is dysfunctional,” the report reads. “It is easily manipulated by manufacturers and testing laboratories. EPA has done little to no oversight and enforcement.”

“It’s bigger than just paperwork issues,” said Lisa Rector, a policy and program director at NESCAUM and lead author of the report. “There were many things done during the testing to reduce emissions, some of it allowed but not as intended, and other things not allowed.”

To achieve EPA certification, wood-burning appliances move through a Byzantine process involving multiple third parties and potential conflicts of interest. Since instituting emissions standards, the EPA hasn’t conducted a single audit to verify certification results, the report said, in a period of over 30 years.

Now, Rector said states under NESCAUM’s guidance have to figure out how to adapt the policy to accommodate the EPA’s failings until the EPA fixes the problem, which could take years.

The report has direct implications for the Comox Valley: “At its core, EPA’s program as currently run allows the continued sale and installation of high-emitting devices… Once installed, these units will remain in use, emitting pollution for decades to come.”

CVRD is one of two in the province to exclude woodstoves from the BC exchange program | George Le Masurier photo

 

MONEY TO BURN?

Jennell Ellis, the spokesperson for the non-profit advocacy group Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley, considers the NESCAUM report’s findings significant enough to refer to as “Woodstovegate,” but said other claims by the HPBAC don’t stand up to scrutiny either.

Namely, that it is unfair to restrict wood stoves because they are an inexpensive source of heat for lower-income residents.

Ellis said that although wood heat is cheap for those getting free wood, in reality, the heat source exacts a dear price from neighbours, communities, and society at large.

“In lower-income neighbourhoods, everyone is breathing the air, while only those who get free wood benefit,” she said.

Health Canada estimates air pollution causes 1,900 premature deaths in BC every year, while total health costs in Canada are pegged at $120 billion annually.

Education campaigns on wood seasoning and best burning practices are no panacea either, Ellis said, because some people refuse to change behaviours and because enforcement is difficult and shouldn’t fall on municipalities anyway.

“In order to get a clean-burning wood device, there are four things you need,” said Rector. “Good technology, good fuel, good installation, good operating practices. Modify any one of those – bad fuel, poor operation, bad technology, bad installation – will turn a device into a high emitting device.”

 

STOVE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS INEFFECTIVE

Finally, the NESCAUM study adds to a body of evidence calling into question the wisdom of subsidizing the change-out of old wood stoves for new ones.

In BC, an exchange program funded by the province and municipalities, and administered by the BC Lung Association, offers rebates for households upgrading from an old wood stove to a pellet stove, natural gas, propane, or electric heat pump. In most jurisdictions, the cost of new, EPA-certified wood stoves is also subsidized by $250-$500.

The Comox Valley Regional District and Sunshine Coast Regional District are the first in BC to exclude replacement wood stoves from the program.

“[The BC Lung Association] think it’s a form of harm reduction,” Ellis said. “We’re lobbying them and trying to convince them that it’s like telling people to smoke light cigarettes.”

A 2015 evaluation of BC’s Woodstove Exchange Program, covering 2008-2014 and commissioned by the Ministry of Environment, found, “there has not yet been a clear reduction in fine particulate matter pollution coming from residential wood stoves in BC.”

The evaluation speculates part of the lingering pollution could be due to a simultaneous increase in the number of households adopting wood heat but concedes poor wood-burning practices persisted despite a “significant effort” in education and outreach to teach clean-burning practices.

Another case study comes from Libby, Montana. The city of nearly 2,800 had over 1,200 non-EPA-certified wood stoves changed out for new units from 2005 to 2008. This was expected to lower the particulate emissions from wood stoves in the town by over three-quarters, but studies later showed an emissions drop of less than a third.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS ARE RESOLUTE

The Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association appears to be fighting a losing battle. Local government leaders say the industry’s Overturn the Ban campaign hasn’t changed their minds.

Cumberland Mayor Baird said she has “no idea why they have chosen the Comox Valley to launch their campaign. We joined with the Comox Valley Regional District as did Courtenay and Comox to improve the air quality in our areas.”

“We are not going backwards,” she said.

CVRD Chair Ketler and Courtenay Mayor Wells both think the industry has targeted the Comox Valley because all three municipalities have created new bylaws that limit the use of wood stoves in new construction and they fear the precedent this sets for other BC municipalities.

This article was a journalistic collaboration between the Watershed Sentinel and Decafnation

 

 

 

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Enter your favorite tree into Comox Valley Nature’s annual contest by April 1

Enter your favorite tree into Comox Valley Nature’s annual contest by April 1

A portion of Comox Valley Nature’s Tree of the Year contest poster

Enter your favorite tree into Comox Valley Nature’s annual contest by April 1

By George Le Masurier

The deadline for nominating your favourite tree in Comox Valley Nature’s annual Tree of the Year contest is just a few weeks away. People can nominate tree before April using the organization’s online entry form.

Comox Valley Nature (CVN) holds the annual contest to identify and highlight individual trees of significant interest or importance or beauty in the Comox Valley. The goal of the contest is to foster a strong connection with nature, increase awareness of cherished local trees, and raise interest in the value and protection of trees.

Any Comox Valley resident can nominate a tree they love within the Comox Valley Regional District boundaries. To encourage everyone to vote with their feet, CVN will provide possible cycling and walking routes to visit these trees. Typically, the nomination period runs from early January until the end of March.

While our focus is on appreciating all the trees, a winning tree will be chosen by public vote. A small prize is awarded to the nominator of the Tree of the Year, and everyone benefits from learning about these beautiful specimens.

The CVN website suggests that when nominating a tree, a person should consider “their personal attraction to the tree. Is it beautiful or eye-catching? Is it ecologically or economically important? Does it have a unique history, or is it of cultural significance? Whatever your reason for choosing to nominate a particular tree, we invite you to share its story with us!”

 

HISTORY OF THE CONTEST

The concept began in the Czech Republic over 20 years ago and evolved into the European Tree of the Year Award, organized by the Environmental Partnership Association.  It has since spread to several countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland, Bulgaria, Spain, Belgium, Estonia, Lithuania, Germany and Slovakia. The presentation ceremony takes place annually around March 21 which is the International Day of Forests.

CVN’s contest was started through the initiative of member Cathy Storey, with the first set of nominations solicited in 2017 and the first winner announced in early 2018. To the best of our knowledge, our contest is unique in North America.

Cathy passed away in December 2020, but her legacy is carrying on. Our 2021 contest is designated in her honour, and a memento in the form of a painting with a tree theme is being created. In addition to a gift basket, the winner of each year’s contest will have the privilege of enjoying the painting in their home for a year.

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The Week: Doing it right on the wrong side of town, CVRD gets a good result for wrong reasons

The Week: Doing it right on the wrong side of town, CVRD gets a good result for wrong reasons

The Week: Doing it right on the wrong side of town, CVRD gets a good result for wrong reasons

By George Le Masurier

As voters and taxpayers, we hope our elected officials always do the right thing for the right reasons.

The Comox Valley Regional District did the right thing last week by terminating its contract with the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS). But they did it for the wrong reasons.

The Economic Development Society was a poorly run service that clothed itself in secrecy, reported to no one but a few self-appointed friends and spent a lot of money for questionable community benefit. And in doing so, the society managed to disappoint, frustrate and antagonize broad sectors of the Comox Valley community.

That was the right reason to terminate this contract.

Hornby and Denman islands and the Village of Cumberland pulled their financial support for the CVEDS service many years ago because those taxpaying elected officials realized how little value they were getting for their money.

Regional directors from Courtenay and Areas A and B might have gotten there, too, but they were making a good faith effort to transform CVEDS into a modern and more relevant organization through — for the first time ever — serious oversight.

But the CVEDS contract was not terminated for its obvious lack of performance. It wasn’t terminated because it had lost its way many years ago by spending almost a third of its budget on a seafood festival that added nothing to the economic sustainability of local businesses beyond a slight uptick in restaurant reservations.

The society’s contract wasn’t terminated because it often claimed responsibility for things on which it actually had minimal impact. It wasn’t terminated because the society shunned accountability or that it failed to comply with requirements under the Societies Act. Or that it had trouble managing its money.

No, the regional district terminated the CVEDS contract because Comox council members objected to increased oversight and scrutiny. Comox councillors didn’t like the regional board setting goals for the society that targeted current problems, such as affordable housing for low-wage employees and familys’ access to child care.

Comox Councillor Ken Grant summed it up when he lectured Courtenay Councillor Wendy Morin about how elected officials should manage arms-length societies.

“That’s the thing about the independent governance model, you don’t get to tell them how to do their business. That’s been the problem from day one,” Grant said at the Feb. 9 regional board meeting.

Grant couldn’t have been more wrong.

When a local government creates an organization — as the regional district did by forming CVEDS in 1988 — that exists only because it receives more than $1 million in public funds annually, then the elected officials absolutely get to say what they want for their money. In fact, taxpayers expect their elected officials to set the big picture goals and to hold people accountable for achieving them.

Grant was right about one thing. The independent governance model has been the problem from day one. Day one being back in 1988. Since then the society has happily taken the public’s $1 million-plus every year and did whatever it wanted with the money. Past elected officials didn’t seem to care what they did.

What is truly amazing is that this bad example of political oversight took so long to blow up.

 

But don’t celebrate just yet

Just because the contract for economic development services gets voided later this year doesn’t mean Comox Valley taxpayers are off the hook.

The regional district wrote CVEDS a $400,000 check in January. That’s one-half of its 2021 funding. The expectation is that the society will continue to fulfil the majority of their 2021 work plan items, including the ones the Town of Comox finds so distasteful.

But, of course, the regional district has no means of ensuring that all or even most of the work will get done satisfactorily. What recourse does the CVRD have? The contract will terminate on Aug. 26 whether the work gets done or not.

The second half of the $800,000 CVEDS 2021 budget is scheduled for July. Will they automatically get another $400,000 for their last two months? Not necessarily, according to CVRD Chief Administration Officer Russell Dyson.

“CVEDS has various commitments in place to deliver services for economic development, tourism and visitors services, and destination marketing. The termination notice provides service to CVEDS for eight of the 12 months in 2021, therefore the second payment for 2021 will consider any adjustments to annual allocation for this adjustment, noting that some costs are annual whether the contract is terminated part way through the year,” he told Decafnation via email.

Dyson confirmed that the regional district would not be responsible for any severance pay for CVEDS employees because they are not CVRD employees.

But Comox Valley taxpayers might become responsible for the Visitors Centre, which some people call the “drum” building and others call the White Elephant.

According to Dyson, “Upon the wind up of CVEDS, the net assets after payment of liabilities is transferred to CVRD and the participant member municipalities. The ongoing ownership and operation of the Visitors Centre will be a key consideration of the service participants in determining future service priorities.”

Dyson says the CVRD and municipal partners will be meeting and working with CVEDS staff the next few months to “encourage” that the work plan priorities are delivered and to encourage a smooth transition to a future service delivery determined through the service review.

“The second payment amount will be determined through this collaborative work over the next few months,” he said.

 

So what will rise from the ashes of CVEDS?

How will local governments provide destination marketing, handle visitor services, manage the hotel tax money and encourage economic vibrancy?

Given that Cumberland and the islands are doing just fine managing their own economic prosperity in-house — as most other communities on Vancouver Island already do — the ideal scenario now is that Courtenay and Comox will hire their own economic development officers.

The CVRD should also hire an economic officer to focus on the three electoral areas because it’s too easy for the rural areas’ needs to be overshadowed by the municipalities. They may all feel strongly about food security, but there are different projects that need to take place in different areas.

Then all four of the Valley’s economic development officers can meet monthly to share information and work together where it’s possible.

Meanwhile, all local governments should agree to share the contract for destination marketing and visitor services to Tourism Vancouver Island (about $260,000 per year). The City of Courtenay economic development officer should have input to Tourism Vancouver Island about how local MRDT funds are spent because all of that money comes from the city.

 

Every community’s needs will evolve over time

But no matter how our elected officials propose to meet those needs, they must always favour transparency and accountability and ensure their objectives are being met without favouritism and for the benefit of the greatest number of people.

 

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The Week: Take our local government survey!

Are you satisfied with the performance of your Comox Valley elected officials? In 20 months and three weeks, voters will go to the polls again. So we’re curious how Decafnation readers feel about their councillors, mayors, directors and school trustees halfway through their current terms in office

Regional District terminates CVEDS contract, opposing views were too entrenched

Regional District terminates CVEDS contract, opposing views were too entrenched

Decafnation archive photo

Regional District terminates CVEDS contract, opposing views were too entrenched

By George Le Masurier

This story was updated March 2 to include a reaction from Area C Director Edwin Grieve. Comox Councillor Ken Grant and Comox Mayor Russ Arnott did not respond.

After almost a year of public discussions, in-camera meetings and mediated workshops that were often divisive, the Comox Valley Regional District will terminate its contract with the Comox Valley Economic Development Society on Aug. 26.

In an email to CVEDS Chair Deana Simkin sent Feb. 25, board Chair Jesse Ketler said the regional district was invoking Section 22 of the current service agreement signed just seven months ago on July 27. The section provides for early termination of the contract with six months notice.

A press release issued by the regional district this morning made the termination public knowledge.

The 33-year-old Economic Development Society will now almost certainly fold without a contract that provided local public funding in excess of $1.2 million annually in recent years in exchange for economic development and destination marketing services, and management of the Visitor’s Centre.

In this morning press release, Chief Administrative officer Russell Dyson said, “the CVRD with their municipal partners (City of Courtenay and Town of Comox) will continue reviewing the economic development service to provide a path forward on how economic development will be delivered within the region.”

One possible path that Comox Council has already discussed is for the town to hire its own economic development officer, as Cumberland did in 2016. Comox could still continue to participate in regional funding for destination marketing and Visitors Centre management.

Regional directors made the decision to terminate the contract at an in-camera session following the Feb. 9 full board meeting, which had become heated over the Economic Development Society’s 2021 work plan and budget.

The Comox Town Council has been at odds with the majority of regional district directors over how to manage the CVEDS contract and over its fundamentally opposing view about what constitutes economic development.

The board majority comprising directors from Courtenay and Electoral Areas A and B have pressed to make CVEDS more financially accountable and to modernize its view of what drives the local economy.

Comox Director Ken Grant made the Town Council’s position crystal clear at the Feb. 9 meeting.

“With all the angst around this, I don’t see any way how this relationship with CVEDS can continue,” he said. “So it’s time to cut our ties with CVEDS and stop pouring good money after bad.”

He said the society’s 2021 workplan included seven projects specifically requested by the board “that, in my opinion” have nothing to do with economic development. That’s taking us down a road our community really isn’t interested in.”

Those seven items included, among others, efforts to help create broader access to child care to enable women to return or enter the workforce and addressing the need for affordable housing to accommodate employees of local businesses.

Grant said the regional board has been “interjecting our decisions into their board … in an independent governance model you don’t get to tell them how to do their business,” he said. “That’s been the problem from day one.”

 

NOBODY WAS HAPPY

Comox Town Council wasn’t happy with the board’s new vision for economic development. The board majority wasn’t happy with how CVEDS operated, especially its lack of transparency and what it considered an outdated approach.

It appears both sides had become tired of the conflict.

Some observers believe Comox developed its own economic development strategy last year when the differences of opinion looked irreconcilable and they didn’t have the votes to prevail.

Town Chief Administration Officer Jordan Wahl recently spoke about hiring its own economic development officer as Cumberland did after withdrawing from the regional service five years

The town hired Lara Greasley, former CVEDS marketing manager, last year and now there is speculation they might hire CVEDS executive director John Watson.

That would leave Courtenay and the electoral areas to form their own economic development plan.

But there might still be room for a regional-wide destination marketing service and management of the Visitor’s Centre, both of which are currently under contract with Tourism Vancouver Island.

 

REACTION TO THE TERMINATION

Area A Director Daniel Arbour said the ongoing service review will allow the municipalities and rural areas to discuss how to support economic development in each respective community. He said it’s clear there are a variety of needs, some which may be best addressed in each jurisdiction, and some through regional collaboration.

“For Area A, CVEDS has worked primarily on the promotion of the shellfish sector for years. Without CVEDS, as chair of the Baynes Sound Ecosystem Forum, and AVICC local government representative on shellfish issues, I look forward to continue to grow the relationship with the businesses, BC Shellfish Association, and K’omoks First Nation on the promotion of sustainability initiatives in and around Baynes Sound,” he told Decafnation.

“Ultimately, in the years ahead, the most important economic consideration in Area A will be to properly manage growth in and around Union Bay, and to make thoughtful decisions around infrastructure requirements and integrated community planning,” he said.

Area B Director Arzeena Hamir said she has been advocating for more support for the farming sector ever since she was elected in 2018.

“Supporting farmers to increase their incomes per acre and create a vibrant food economy has always been at the forefront of my asks of our Economic Development Service. I hope to continue pushing for that,” she told Decafnation.

“I do also support more childcare places and I do see the direct connection between the vitality of the workforce and the ability of that workforce to return to work without having to worry about who is taking care of their kids,” she said.

Hamir added that she is looking forward to a transformed Economic Development Service.

“It’s been a long haul. We did try to work with CVEDS under the new contract but I felt we weren’t getting the deliverables we agreed to and CVEDS continued to make decisions (like the contract to Tourism Vancouver Island) without even informing the CVRD in advance,” she said.

Area C Director Edwin Grieve thanked the “incredible list” of volunteers who stepped up and donated so much of their time and expertise to serve on the CVEDS board. He noted past presidents Richard Hardy, Ian Whitehead, Justin Rigsby, Deana Simpkin. He also gave recognition to John Watson and Geoff, Lara, Arron and others from the staff that worked magic and doubled every public dollar.

“In this, as in so many Comox Valley endeavours, it was the volunteers, societies and not-for-profits that made this such a great place to live,” he told Decafnation. 

 

WHAT’S NEXT

It was the Comox Council that unanimously voted to request a formal review of the economic development service. That review with a hired consultant began on Jan. 17 but has so far resulted in only one in-camera meeting, which primarily focused on the process and procedures for the review.

The next meeting of the review committee is scheduled for mid-March but does not appear on the regional district’s website because they have closed the meetings to the public.

The review committee comprises representatives from Courtenay, Comox, the three electoral areas and the regional board chair.

 

 

 

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