Survey finds Areas A-B happy with regional board, directors, little interest in schools

Survey finds Areas A-B happy with regional board, directors, little interest in schools

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Survey finds Areas A-B happy with regional board, directors, little interest in schools

By George Le Masurier

Just over halfway through their first terms in local government, regional district directors Daniel Arbour and Arzeena Hamir have earned high approval ratings from the respondents to a Local Government Performance Review conducted recently by Decafnation.

Decafnation initiated the survey to measure how satisfied voters were with the performance of the councillors, directors and trustees they elected in 2018.

The first article summarizing the survey’s findings published earlier this week took a close look at the Courtenay and Comox municipal councils and individual council members. This second article focuses on the rural electoral areas of the Comox Valley Regional District, as well as the District 71 school board and Island Trust representatives from Denman and Hornby Islands.

Electoral Area A Director Daniel Arbour received the highest approval rating of all the Comox Valley’s 33 elected officials reviewed in the survey. Eighty-nine percent of Area A respondents said they were either very satisfied (61%) or satisfied (28%) with his performance so far. That was also the survey’s highest ‘very satisfied’ rating.

Affordable housing the top issue in Areas A and B. In Area C, it was protecting the Regional Growth Strategy

Electoral Area B Director Arzeena Hamir was close behind Arbour with a 65 percent approval rating from respondents, including a 58 percent approval rating in the top ‘very satisfied’ level.

Respondents from electoral areas A and B also said they were satisfied with the work of the Comox Valley Regional District board of directors.

But veteran electoral director Edwin Grieve didn’t fare as well. Fifty-seven percent of electoral area C respondents said they were dissatisfied with his performance at mid-term, including 30 percent who said they were very dissatisfied.

Despite Grieve’s low approval rating, the survey found that Area C respondents were still mostly satisfied with the regional board as a whole, although their satisfaction level (38%) was the lowest of the three electoral areas. Also, the number of Area C respondents who gave the board a neutral rating (neither satisfied nor dissatisfied) was the highest of the three rural areas.

The survey results also show that most residents in the municipalities and rural areas were ambivalent about School District 71 school board trustees as well as Island Trust representatives. With a few exceptions, most of these elected officials’ received the neutral rating of neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

A neutral rating usually indicates the survey respondent doesn’t have enough information to form a strong positive or negative impression or that they are indifferent to, in this case, the school board and Island Trust issues.

Denman Island’s Laura Busheikin received the strongest satisfaction rating (54%) among the four Islands Trust representatives from Denman and Hornby islands. But both Busheikin and Denman’s other representative, David Critchley, received a significant number of written comments.

All four Islands Trust trustees received high neutral satisfaction ratings, probably because twice as many Area A residents live in the Royston to Fanny Bay portion of the district as on the islands. Those residents are not as likely to follow Denman and Hornby civic issues.

“Although a Hornby Islander, Daniel Arbour is doing a good job of representing both the “Big Island” and “Little Islands” parts of Area A.”

The survey also asked respondents to identify the top issues elected officials should address before voters go back to the polls on Oct. 15 of next year.

Although the list of top issues varied in each jurisdiction, areas A and B choose affordable housing as the number one issue. In Area C, the top issue was protecting the Regional Growth Strategy, quite possibly a reaction to the multi-year controversy over a large subdivision proposed by 3L Developments.

The survey was conducted over a three-week period via Survey Monkey and the results independently analyzed by community volunteers not associated with Decafnation.

Respondents could choose among five levels: very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied or dissatisfied, dissatisfied and very dissatisfied. For this story, in most instances, we have combined the top two satisfied ratings and bottom two dissatisfied ratings and refer to them as simply satisfied or dissatisfied.

Most of the 314 survey respondents included written comments to help explain their satisfaction ratings. These can be found elsewhere on the Decafnation website.

Here’s a closer look at the results for the Comox Valley Regional District Electoral Areas, school trustees and Island Trust representatives.

 

CVRD ELECTORAL AREA A

Almost two-thirds of survey respondents from Area A (61%) said they are satisfied with the regional district board. That was the highest approval rating of any local government surveyed and may be a reflection of respondents’ satisfaction with CVRD Director Daniel Arbour.

Arbour not only received the highest approval rating in the survey (89%) but he also had the lowest disapproval rating (7%) and the fewest number of indifferent respondents (4% neither satisfied nor dissatisfied).

Area A respondents’ satisfaction level with the regional district board – click to enlarge

One respondent said they were very satisfied with Arbour because, “Although a Hornby Islander, Daniel Arbour is doing a good job of representing both the “Big Island” and “Little Islands” parts of Area A.”

“He has a good media presence so I see things he is trying to do. Shares information on Facebook. Connects with locals about rural concerns and get what it’s like to live rurally,” said another respondent.

You can find all of the regional district, school trustee and Islands Trust comments here.

District 71 school board Chair Sheila McDonnell, who represents Area A, received the highest satisfaction rating (29%) of any school trustee and a low dissatisfaction rating (5%).

But survey respondents across the Comox Valley gave all of the school board trustees, including McDonnell, and the four Islands Trust representatives overwhelmingly indifferent ratings. Sixty-seven percent of Area A respondents said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with McDonnell.

Respondents said they “have no kids in school, so not an interest,” and “No idea what she’s up to.” While another respondent said, “Sheila has been very receptive to feedback and concerns about the school board processes.”

Few Area A respondents said whether they were satisfied not with the Denman and Hornby Island Trust representatives.

Denman’s Laura Busheikin topped the survey for most responses and respondents also gave her the highest satisfied rating (54%) and also the lowest indifferent rating (37%).

“Laura is by far the best Islands Trustee we’ve had in the 31 years I’ve lived on Denman Island. She’s smart, hard-working, and faultlessly ethical despite being cast, in some Islanders’ minds, as a foil to Local Trust Committee members whom they regard as “elitists,” said one respondent.

Area A respondents’ top issues – click to enlarge

Only about 20 percent of Area A respondents said they were satisfied or dissatisfied with Hornby trustees Grant Scott and Alex Allen and Denman trustee Dave Critchley. But respondents did have several conflicting comments about Critchley

“Trustee Critchley is a lawyer and performs his LTC job officiously. He tends to take a conservative position on certain issues, particularly housing which has become a hot-button again as the IT Council has decided to crack down on non-conforming dwellings and has been issuing eviction notices since last winter. These “illegal” dwellings have existed on this Island for 47 years—ever since the imposition of the Islands Trust. They exist because they are critically necessary: the AVERAGE age on Denman is 61 years old and younger workers of every sort are needed—and need places to live. Trustee Critchley has tended to support the recent crackdown on non-conforming dwellings. About 20% of our population lives in these,” said one respondent.

And when it came to the top issues Area A respondents want Arbour to address before the end of his first term, Affordable housing topped the list (66%). Next was mental health and opioid addiction issues.

 

CVRD ELECTORAL AREA B

More than twice as many Area B respondents to the survey say they are satisfied (53%) than dissatisfied (20%) with the regional district board. And 65 percent say they are satisfied with the performance of Director Arzeena Hamir. Just 13 percent said they were dissatisfied.

Area B respondents’ satisfaction level with the regional district board – click to enlarge

“Arzeena Hamir is an outstanding director. I highly respect her for her willingness to speak up and be vocal about issues she feels strongly about. She communicates professionally and thoroughly researches issues she’s addressing. She has been unafraid to speak publicly about CVEDS, and other challenges the CVRD is facing,” said one respondent.

“Have been very impressed with Director Hamir in every way. Particularly appreciated her support of Curtis Road residents in our difficulties with the Sewage Treatment plant,” said another who echoed other respondents’ comments.

The comments from Area B respondents, which can be found here, included these:

“On the whole I am pleased with how the CVRD has handled things this past term. I’m especially happy that they are putting CVEDS through their paces and bringing them to task for the years of secretive operations and inadequate service to the area as a whole,” said one.

Area B respondents’ top issues – click to enlarge

While another said, “I think that personal relationships seem to trump community greater good when it comes to decision making for Director Edwin Grieve. Very satisfied with Daniel Arbour and Arzeema Hamir.”

Survey respondents were dramatically indifferent about school board Trustee Michelle Waite. Ninety percent of Area B respondents said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, because, according to one respondent, “No idea how that is going.”

Another respondent said, “The school district does a poor job of getting its news and information to the public. Sometimes this feels intentional.”

The top issues Area B respondents want to be addressed are affordable housing and the Regional Growth Strategy. But they also noted support for the farming sector and climate change as top issues leading up to the 2022 civic elections.

 

CVRD ELECTORAL AREA C

Of the Comox Valley’s three electoral districts, Area C is the most unhappy with their regional board representation, and the least happy with the CVRD board itself.

Area C respondents’ satisfaction level with Director Edwin Grieve – click to enlarge

Area C respondents said they were decidedly dissatisfied (56%) with the performance of Director Edwin Grieve.

“Grieve appears to support the visions of CVEDS and the Exhibition Grounds Committee that are not in keeping with more sustainable, grassroots, community-based values. BIG is not necessarily beautiful. Input from local growers and the community at large should be valued and respected, not minimized or criticized. Time for him to join many of the other “old boys club” members and step aside,” said one respondent.

All of the survey’s written comments about Grieve, the regional district and their school board trustee can be read in their entirety here.

But 30 percent of Area C respondents were also satisfied with his performance.

Area C respondents’ top issues – click to enlarge

“Edwin has been between a rock and a hard place for a long time, what with 3L being in his grill for so long. Director Grieve seems to be a conciliator personality type and is not his own best advocate. I think that many times what he does is not actually understood by the electorate and the press,” according to another survey respondent.

The recently appointed school trustee for Area C, Cristi May Sacht received equally small numbers of satisfied and dissatisfied respondents and 81 percent who said they didn’t know enough about her or were indifferent to school issues.

Protecting and updating the Regional Growth Strategy is the top issue (65%) that respondents from Area C want their director to address in the last half of his term. Respondents ranked affordable housing second (52%) and then economic development and climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW YOU RATED ELECTORAL AREA DIRECTORS, SCHOOL TRUSTEES AND ISLANDS TRUST REPS

Cumberland school board trustee Sarah Jane Howe’s result derives from only three respondents, two who gave her a neutral rating and one who gave a satisfied rating.

 

 

SURVEY RESPONDENTS BY GOVERNMENT JURISDICTION

 

 

SURVEY RESPONDENTS BY AGE GROUPINGS

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Electoral Area A Comments

These are the written comments made by Electoral Area A residents who participated in Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review. Comments that breached our journalistic standards have been eliminated. All other comments appear as entered into the online survey platform. Click on each image to enlarge the view.

Daniel Arbour

 He seems committed to the work and is a very good speaker.

Admirable!

 He has a good media presence so I see things he is trying to do. Shares information on Facebook. Connects with locals about rural concerns and get what’s it’s like to live rurally.

 Has done a good job of reaching out to residents

 I respect his stand with BCF although it did not really get us anywhere.

 Daniel has made an effort to reach out and provide support and advocacy for a number of Denman Island community projects.

 He’s accessible and sympathetic – this is great for us.

 High profile, gets on with it. He is most approachable. Is sincere in what he says.

 Seems smart and very involved which is great.

 Although a Hornby Islander, Daniel Arbour is doing a good job of representing both the “Big Island” and “Little Islands” parts of Area A.

 hard-working, clear communicator, approachable, makes things happen, engaged, ethical

 Takes the area concerns seriously and is very good with keeping us informed.

 He has done an exceptional job of keeping the community informed and obtaining feedback.

 Good one you for speaking up! even when it makes them uncomfortable. Be the politician that speaks truth.

 Who? Where is his media presence letting the public know how things are.

 This guy is great! One of our very best area directors

 Daniel reaches out to the community much more than our previous director. He works to keep us informed.

 He’s good at communicating.

Any emails or short Meet Your Area Rep has always gone well. Daniel Arbour is a hard worker and wants to do his best.

 Very approachable, helpful, accessible and informative.

 Hard working director.

 I appreciate that Daniel uses Facebook to communicate with constituents.

 He has failed Union Bay with his Developer friendly attitude. The Developer is screwing with people’s lives.

Area A Comments on CVRD

Not familiar with enough of the issues to assess their work.

Not sure what they are responsible for, what they do.

Suggestion that the financial reports of tax funded committees on Denman Island should be more readily accessible to the residents. Thanks for the new stairs at Denman West, and other work on trails.

Other than Daniel A. , I’ve not yet had any dealings with any of them.

We Denman and Hornby Islanders used to have our own Regional District Area but have since been rolled back into Area A. Luckily Area A elected a Hornby Islander, Daniel Arbour.

Haven’t followed closely enough to offer a judgement.

Unsure of their performance, except Daniel Arbour is the only one I’ve followed, and he has a good lick of practicality and seems quite “real” about whats going on. Appreciate his efforts and hope he keeps speaking truth to power.

Have not heard anything from any one in the district during Covid.

Too much favourism among the Directors

They seem to be doing an okay job.

We have one person looking after CVRD A which encompasses a large area with a diverse population. I hope most of the residents are reasonable people and approach their elected official respectfully. I know some things take long to progress but we also need to remember it’s different levels of government who may have more power in doing things.

We’ll see as time goes on, Union Bay is in transition.

So far so good, from what I’ve been able to glean from Decafnation and Daniel’s Facebook page.

What do they do for Union Bay?

Area A Issues

⇒ Taxes on the Valley’s highest emitters could be redirected to support local decarbonization strategies. Anyone in the Valley driving an F350, towing a boat, and driving quads and Skidoos should pay steel registration fees. The collected revenue put into active transport infrastructure etc.

⇒ The Comox Valley is doing a great job at pushing the hard-working people in low-income jobs out. If you don’t deal with the disgusting rent and housing costs you will have no service people left.

⇒ Internet access: high speed (>25 Mbs), equally accessible and affordable.

⇒ Just get stuff done in a timely manner.

⇒ Never mind relations with first nations. And low-income housing ?? What spend the money and time on infrastructure that benefits the island. And make the complaint system disappear, please. Turning people against each other. Clean up the trailer, buses and shacks. Islands trust doesn’t fund low-income housing. The low-income housing application have both been on lands that have a better use. Alr and forestry. Application NEEDS to be on residential lands.

⇒ Please pay attention to the upcoming census as Denman is changing rapidly and this will reflect in needs of the Islanders.

⇒ Consistent application of bylaws to ensure the quality of life for all.

⇒ COVID recovery and response

⇒ Thanks for making this available. Thanks for asking.

⇒ Affordable housing is by far the biggest issue on Denman Island, especially since the ITC has decided to impose a crackdown on non-conforming dwellings that have existed here for nearly 50 years. The Regional District has jurisdiction over building permits, inspections, etc, but delegate this to the LTC even though the Island is not a municipality (which are customarily delegated such jurisdiction). The problem is, the LTC does not provide building inspection (the province provides septic and electrical inspection only) —I suppose as a sop to residents who objected to the imposition of the Islands Trust in 1974; as a result, non-conforming dwellings (and a large proportion of conforming ones) are substandard, potentially unhealthy and unsafe despite the BC Building Code being in effect on every square inch of the province. However, we need to house workers employed at the various businesses here or who provide many services our generally geriatric population needs. This issue is becoming extremely contentious as the new bylaw enforcement officer has been handing out eviction notices with zeal unlike we’ve ever seen before. The new Bylaw Enforcement Notification system is an attempt to insulate the IT from court costs —that is, it deprives —or claims to, at least—residents’ of their day in court to settle bylaw disputes (the BEN system apparently substitutes for a number of failed attempts to implement a municipal-style ticketing system which, because the ITC is not responsible to is electors, is unconstitutional—beyond the IT’s jurisdiction in the same way the IT may not levy taxes, requiring the CVRD to do it in its stead as per the English Bill of Rights 1688/89, its derivatives in Common Law enshrined in the British North America Act 1867 and, now, the Constitution Act 1982). Many residents feel the BEN system is unfair and imprudent, if not unconstitutional. Naturally, the IT is precisely that: a trusteeship like any other, meaning its Trustees represent the special mandate of Islands Trust Act to residents—residents are not represented to the IT. In other words, our two elected Trustees (the ITC chair is a Trustee elected by residents of Bowen Island) are responsible to the narrow mandate of the IT Act only, not to their electors. Thus, because the LTC has sole authority over land-use zoning, we Islanders have few democratic tools to solve the severe housing shortage here—even though, ironically, we have four jurisdictions to which we elect officials whereas most BC citizens have only two or three. This mounting problem is not the fault of any elected representatives but, rather, of conflict between the IT mandate and residents who also elect representatives to responsible governments which cannot respond to their electors because of the restrictive IT mandate. It is a systems problem that has been assiduously ignored since 1974–which is why non-conforming dwellings are so common here, a sort of detente because almost everybody either knows someone who lives in such a dwelling, lives in one themselves, or provides such for someone: if anybody makes an official (anonymous) complaint, it risks a storm of tit-for-tat retaliation, suspicion and unneighbourliness that would affect nearly everyone here. Apparently, the IT Council (which is not elected by residents) is willing to take that risk—at the expense of humanity, peace, happiness, neighbourliness and prosperity on our Island. The position of Islands Trustee on Denman Island (and, presumably, on other Islands in Trust too) is therefore fraught with difficulty and, often, rancour. That’s why many residents here vote for and are thankful to have an energetic Trustee in Laura Busheikin who works tirelessly with the utmost integrity to find compromises within this strange, restrictive kind of jurisdictional conundrum that is not responding to an urgent problem: the lack of affordable housing. This could be solved if secondary dwellings were generally permitted on all properties (save ALR, about 50% of our Island, which has its own restrictions in this regard that trump the IT)—a possibility only Trustee Busheikin has shown any interest in. This issue is getting very, very hot here. It hasn’t been a healthy situation for a long time but looks to get even less so if something isn’t done soon about how we residents are represented to responsible governments. We already have affordable housing, such as it is, we just need it to be legal, healthy and safe.

⇒ Climate change, sustainable economics, and affordable housing are at the top of my political agenda, but I don’t think local and regional representatives have the power to deal meaningfully with them. They all urgently require fast, decisive provincial, national, and international action.

⇒ Provide the needs of the citizens at a reasonable cost. Don’t waste money on pet projects. Unless infrastructure is addressed, that includes ferries and bridges, we do not need more growth.

⇒ Policing in rural areas

⇒ People are suffering, it is getting worse, and those of us who are trying to help by housing (illegally) those who lack housing are now being targeted by bylaw enforcement. We will have a tent city in no time if something doesn’t happen now.

⇒ Fix the problems. We need to repave roads, more help for mental health persons, we need to keep our green spaces and stick to the growth plan. Stop big developers from tearing down and destroying green space. Upgrade the run-down areas and increase density in pockets rather than urban sprawl that only helps the realtors and developers.

⇒ All of the above. I would like to see some more concrete action with the people who seem to need to heat their homes with wet wood. Dry wood is still bad for everyone regardless. The burning in the back yards is awful and spreads the smoke all over the neighbourhood. I know there is a committee/forum on it and incentives to switch to alternatives. Tougher laws are needed. Help those of us who have difficulty breathing and everyone else whose health is impacted whether they know it or not.

⇒ What about COVID?

⇒ Oh man, I wanted to tick everything. The global climate crisis is having a knock-on effect on so many other variables … We really need to be thoughtful about our growth strategy. The Weekender Effect has taken hold and it’s a crying shame. I keep saying that the barometer I use is how “dog friendly” our communities are. Can’t believe someone asked me to leash my dog when we were walking up Forbidden the other week – man oh man, it wasn’t so long ago that you could go up Becher with your pack of dogs, and not see a single other party on the trail. We have to be very mindful of the culture we develop as Vancouver moves in.

School Board Comments

These are the written comments made about District 71 school trustees by the respondents in Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review from each trustee’s jurisdiction. Comments that breached our journalistic standards have been eliminated. All other comments appear as entered into the online survey platform. Click on each image to enlarge the view.

Sheila McDonnell — Area A

No knowledge

Not sure what she has done for us.

Sheila has been very receptive to feedback and concerns about the School Board processes.

I don’t know much about this, but I think teachers and support staff should be on a priority list for COVID vaccines. They are in the US and UK. This might make other demands for more teaching staff, more classrooms, more distancing, masks, etc. unnecessary.

Not had any dealings with her. Have never seen any of her work

Not familiar with her.

All our Valley grandkids are in university now, but so long’s the Denman grade school is kept open (occasionally the province has threatened to shut it down because, in BC Liberalese, it has been deemed “inefficient”) I’m satisfied.No kids in school so not an interest.

Do not know

I have no knowledge of her work as we have no children of school age

Haven’t been watching to be honest

I do not have children is school anymore so have no dealings with Sheila. Anyone to take public office I give them kudos.

No real contact

No idea what she’s up to.

Kat Hawksby — Courtenay

Never hear from or about her.

I have no info to judge.

Not familiar.

Don’t follow

I have heard very little about the school board considering that they are juggling Covid.

Unknown to me

Don’t know enough to comment.

Sarah Jane Howe — Cumberland

Straightforward and caring. Engaged and connected with our school community.

Janice Canton — Courtenay

School trustees too quiet and leave overall policy and direction in the hands of senior management. Not enough checks and balances, minimal decisions in their votes. Too busy listening to ‘good news stories’ that pad senior management egos. Not enough attention to actual community needs and the inadequacies of provincial funding and the future of public education and overall community-based supports to reflect strong communities.

I don’t have children in the school district so I’m not really aware of her performance.

Divisive!

Have not been following the actions of School Trustees.

Janice who?

Some concern about what language she wants to include in the updating of the school district bullying and inclusion policy change that has been proposed.

I have no info to judge.

Not good the tons of money spent on teachers and new school add ons

Not familiar.

Don’t follow

I have heard very little about the school board considering that they are juggling Covid.

unknown to me

Don’t know enough.

I don’t pay attention to school issues.

Cristi May Sacht — Area C

Too early to say

She’s only been there for a few weeks and has no track record. See my comment above about ‘Green’ rural directors and then multiply it even more for school trustees.

Dont follow school issues… too damn old.

Who? All-female school board?

She hasn’t been in this position long enough to assess…

Don’t know enough to rate May

I don’t have any children in the school system (never have) so I don’t pay any attention to school trustees.

Tonia Frawley — Comox

Tonia Frawley tries to be somewhat progressive but has difficulty garnering a collective consensus among her fellow trustees.

Cannot comment as do not have any dealings with the school board.

Not enough experience or interaction for me

School boards and trustees are redundant and should be disbanded.

Nice person but not a good source of information.

She is ineffective and barely comes to PAC meetings.

She has done absolutely nothing for Comox students…she’s no advocate for students or for increased funding to public ed.

She doesn’t answer parent emails. Comes unprepared to PAC meetings and is generally mute when questioned about anything.

I know nothing about her.

Not even aware she exists

I ‘m afraid I don’t enough about how she stands on School Board issues.

Michelle Waite — Area B

The school district does a poor job of getting its news and information to the public. Sometimes this feels intentional.

No idea how that is going

Again, no information reaching us.

I am uninformed.

Don’t follow her.

Unaware of her

Don’t have much information regarding issues relating to schools.

I don’t know enough about her to comment.

Invisible

Islands Trust Comments

These are the written comments made about the four Islands Trust representative by Electoral Area A respondents who participated in Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review. Comments that breached our journalistic standards have been eliminated. All other comments appear as entered into the online survey platform. Click on each image to enlarge the view.

David Critchley — Denman

⇒ Don’t know his work.

⇒ Does not adequately connect with all sectors of Denman’s community.

⇒ Only 2nd time I’ve heard his name. 1st time, he apparently did not know there is a shortage of affordable housing on Denman. Really dude, open your eyes!! Be in touch with the people who live in the area you represent.

⇒ Has has had to take a lot of complaints on the Denman Green which is undeserved. David cares about the community and listens to all points of view prior to making a decision.

⇒ My general sense about the Islands’ Trust is that it’s getting progressively more expensive, for progressively fewer benefits. Despite all the cost increases, Denman’s population keeps growing, and the environment gets further and further away from a “natural” one. My suggestion would be that our LTC’s mandate should be limited to land use applications only, and any surplus funds directed to health care.

⇒ Taxes for the Trust are almost as big as for the hospital. What does the Trust do except hold complicated meetings?

⇒ David seems to stand up for what is right in preserving the beauty and fabric of the Denman community.

⇒ Trustee Critchley is a lawyer and performs his LTC job officiously. He tends to take a conservative position on certain issues, particularly housing which has become a hot-button again as the IT Council has decided to crack down on non-conforming dwellings and has been issuing eviction notices since last winter. These “illegal” dwellings have existed on this Island for 47 years—ever since the imposition of the Islands Trust. They exist because they are critically necessary: the AVERAGE age on Denman is 61 years old and younger workers of every sort are needed—and need places to live. Trustee Critchley has tended to support the recent crackdown on non-conforming dwellings. About 20% of our population lives in these.

Works hard, ethical, great work on marine issues

⇒ David is extremely out of touch with the community. His current actions are an embarrassment to humanity in regards to acknowledging that a housing crisis exists.

⇒ Critchley is choosing to ignore/dismiss a housing crisis happening under his nose, in spite of it being brought to his attention on numerous occasions. He does not engage with his community, not does he speak up on serious issues that impact people.

⇒ This trustee is out of touch. He says he doesn’t know anything about the current housing crisis on Denman (it has been a long time coming but recent Bylaw enforcement has forced evictions on Denman Island). He attends meetings and committees and as far as I can tell that is all he does. He neither communicates regularly with the community. Nor is he approachable. Nor does he listen to feedback from his constituents. Time to retire Mr. Critchley.

⇒ I’m not sure if I’m dissatisfied with the performance, or more lack of performance. I have gone to him 3 times about checking on a possible by-law infraction, asking for clarification on it and he’s not offering guidance. He says there is no way to find out about permits until after they’re approved. We both said that wasn’t satisfactory, but he didn’t offer to put forward a way to change that.

Alex Allen — Hornby

He is a good communicator and raises issues which are pertinent to life on the island.

Not sure what he has done for us. First time I’ve seen his name. Don’t live on Hornby.

Grant Scott — Hornby

He’s learning the ropes and is committed to making the Trust more accessible.

Not sure what he has done for us. First time I’ve seen his name. Don’t live on Hornby.

Seems disengaged

Laura Busheikin — Denman

⇒ She’s a very clear speaker and well organized, but I don’t follow Denman issues.

⇒ Admirable!

⇒ I know Laura brings up concerns and issues that need to be addressed. I.E. low-income housing. She is well-spoken and kind.

⇒ She doesn’t really answer your questions. I find the local gov. It making it difficult for landowners. They have never made bylaws for the farm plan.

⇒ At times has spent too much time on First Nations issues instead of local day to day infrastructure concerns. Otherwise, Laura is a wonderful, considerate, intelligent representative for our community.

⇒ Don’t live on the island

⇒ Laura is very responsive to community needs.

⇒ My general sense about the Islands’ Trust is that it’s getting progressively more expensive, for progressively fewer benefits. Despite all the cost increases, Denman’s population keeps growing, and the environment gets further and further away from a “natural” one. My suggestion would be that our LTC’s mandate should be limited to land use applications only, and any surplus funds directed to health care.

⇒ The Trust has outlived its mandate. They make projects up to look busy.

⇒ Laura responds and acts upon demands and requests from a very small select group of total idiots on Denman’s Facebook group! Laura’s reading and interacting with these Facebook posts is extremely dangerous, as I truly believe they do NOT represent the views of the silent and vast majority of people on Denman at all! She should remain distanced and non-commital to these people and simply take their views into account in the overall scheme of things. For example, she should NOT be promoting lowering the standard of bylaw enforcement to support this small group of people who would love to see Denman become a slum of trailers, shipping containers and live in vehicles. She should not suggest, for example, that seacans would be a great solution to the housing shortage. If people are not able to afford living on Denman for whatever reason, then they should seek housing elsewhere in the much larger world out there where there are much larger taxpayer-funded programs to assist such people. I do not believe the argument that homeless type people are needed to staff the businesses on Denman is a good one. With some exceptions, for the most part, businesses are staffed by the owners or young people living with their families on the island. There is no need to promote homeless type people moving here to staff the businesses. These people are not the main workers here. They come to Denman because it has a reputation for low-cost living and lax rules. Then they expect to be handed a place to live for practically nothing and to live off of this very generous community’s handouts.

⇒ Laura is by far the best Islands Trustee we’ve had in the 31 years I’ve lived on Denman Island. She’s smart, hard-working, and faultlessly ethical despite being cast, in some Islanders’ minds, as a foil to Local Trust Committee members whom they regard as “elitists.” I’m sure she wouldn’t agree with that characterization, but it relates to her tireless, decade-long effort, before she was elected Trustee, to realize a creative housing solution, the “Coho Landing” co-housing development (fifteen households sharing a number of amenities to reduce environmental footprint and offering affordable opportunities whenever old members move on and new ones are lucky enough to fill their spot; all required special land-use zoning). Laura spearheaded this community project and, probably for this reason, many voters expect her to represent their concerns about the chronically severe lack of affordable housing on our Island. She works well with her LTC colleagues and within the rules, nevertheless. Very professional—and a very nice person, too!

⇒ Laura B is the hardest working, clearest communicating, most democratic process-oriented I’ve experienced in 35 years of full-time residence on Denman.

Very engaged, great communicator, patient, fair-minded, ethical

⇒ Laura is extremely intelligent and very aware of what is happening on her island, has articulated truth in LTC meetings, and regularly engages with her community

⇒ One of our very best trustees. An excellent elected official

Electoral Area C Comments

These are the written comments made by Electoral Area C residents who participated in Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review. Comments that breached our journalistic standards have been eliminated. All other comments appear as entered into the online survey platform. Click on each image to enlarge the view.

Area C Comments on CVRD

More active effort to complete the Onespot Trail from Cessford Rd to Condensory Bridge required. Huge effort required to widen road from Cessford Rd to Condensory Bridge for walkers, cyclists &school children and horses.

Some are doing a great job others need to be voted out

Rural directors have a hard time at it as they are basically newbies when elected and have a lot to get up to speed on including municipal law. Not at all the situation the bulk of municipal directors find themselves in due to their prior experience gained in municipal councils.

Stick to the RGS– Don’t cave into the would-be developers

The response on the pandemic for business and tourism has been terrible. The failure to hold CVED’s accountable in the past, and now to hold them to the terms of the existing MOU is negligent, as it was breached from the start. Permitting CVED’s to then hand off a two year contract for Tourism Marketing and Visitor services, when the Agreement/MOU states that “the obligations must not be transferred or assigned by the society without prior written consent of the CVRD” is obscene for a six-figure contract.

Only area A is a keeper. The farmer and the building supply salesman can hopefully be replaced.

I’d like to see directors be more engaged with discussions around composting and solid waste disposal issues – at the moment, about the proposal before MOE that would permit deposits of waste materials in the Hamm Road Rd. area. Just because it’s a “provincial” issue doesn’t mean they can’t take a more assertive role in discussing options – even take a stand against it.

I am quite happy about the new group that has been formed to look out for the purchase/acquisition of new parkland. Although difficult, being proactive rather than reactive is much more effective in the long run. So important to protect our green space before it’s all gone…maybe this is reactive? I.e. Stotan Falls? The wildlife corridors need to be protected.

On the whole, I am pleased with how the CVRD has handled things this past term. I’m especially happy that they are putting CVEDS through their paces and bringing them to task for the years of secretive operations and inadequate service to the area as a whole.

I think that personal relationships seem to trump community greater good when it comes to decision making for Director Edwin Grieve. Very satisfied with Daniel Arbour and Arzeema Hamir.

Edwin Grieve

Not pleased with his views on development. Stotan Falls area should not in any way be developed.

About the only thing positive since being elected is that Mainroad is doing a much better job with road maintenance.

Appears to be a puppet for the ‘old boys’ (CVEDS)

Edwin has been between a rock and a hard place for a long time, what with 3L being in his grill for so long. Director Grieve seems to be a conciliator personality type and is not his own best advocate. I think that many times what he does in not actually understood by the electorate and the press. As the most experience of the 3 rural directors he is the most cautious. We have our differences. Using the fairgrounds for an ‘Ag Complex’ for example is a non-starter for me. Many have no cognizance of the actual amount of work put in by these directors for the people they represent. Much of their hard work is stymied by regional and municipal bureaucratic undermining. Rural directors within Regional Districts do not have much power as opposed to Municipal directors and the municipalities that get to vote twice – once in the municipal process and then a second time at the RD.

Don’t give in to the 3L bandits Edwin…. and where is the wired hi-speed internet you promised to promote for those of us outside of Courtenay?

Has actively worked to prevent any accountability for CVEDs. Don’t know of any actions he may have done to serve his district, but is happy to help developers. (provided they are purely for profit – guessing he would block any affordable housing initiatives)

He is useless. Retire next election.

Grieve appears to support the visions of CVEDS and the Exhibition Grounds Committee that are not in keeping with more sustainable, grassroots, community-based values. BIG is not necessarily beautiful. Input from local growers and the community at large should be valued and respected, not minimized or criticized. Time for him to join many of the other “old boys club” members and step aside.

Don’t know enough to rate Edwin

I’m not happy that Edwin supported the old school CVEDS behaviour. Other than that I think he’s been okay.

 

Area C issues

These wet spells have highlighted once again that our local septics are mostly collapsed now. Last survey was done just prior to the last sewer referendum and showed a growing trend of sewage issues.

As many cannot afford an increase in taxes due to covid related unemployment, plan on a budget that keeps taxes status quo. Need to continue NECESSARY services and leaves the wants for another time.

The bureaucracy at the RD is, frankly speaking, a 5th column with many fiefdoms totally without a grounding in the sensibilities of the people who live in the rural areas and the directors elected to serve those electors. The rural areas of the RD have a very diverse population from the import Martini Farmers at one end of the spectrum to the subsistence pensioners living in poverty at the other. Regulation these days seems to be written by people with good-paying jobs with dental plans which I have no problem with but their sensitivities are definitely skewed towards curbing any scent of, err how shall I say it, non-CSA approved habitation. The regulation industry is on a rampage that is forcing all but the most rich off the landscape as recent zoning bylaw amendments and ever ratcheting up building code regulation demonstrate. Employees with benefits and steady paychecks certainly have their biases when it comes to regulating lower-income people who have to scratch and peck to stay afloat. Many times regulation is written to curb the excesses of the Martini Farmers who have the money to comply but greatly impact the poor among us who may own property or who are forced to ‘camp out’ in less than the perfect situations that planners, inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers regulate. There is a disconnect there that needs to be addressed. Since the leaky condo situation federal, Provincial and municipal/RD building code over-regulation coupled with Provincial Electrical Regulation overreach have exacerbated these situations to the realm of ridiculously and the RD building inspectors and enforcement personnel pretty well have cart blanch to do as they please leaving builders and occupiers very little recourse.
Support to seniors. Careful watching the new land developments—Keep an eye on Union Bay– Don’t trade off our shellfish industry for housing.

Thanks for asking

We need an industrial park. Get it zoned.

You have to pay to play. Nothing is for free. It takes private business to support the wants of the many.

I appreciate being able to access minutes, agendas of upcoming meetings, staff reports and other information that’s available online, as well as viewing “live” or taped meetings of various committees.

Let’s get our human-powered transportation completed….we also need unbroken links…the One Spot is an amazing resource and is so close to being complete.

All of these things are important, but I’ve selected the items that I think should be up higher on the list of priorities.

All the issues above are important but I feel some are a stretch for municipal government. It’s ridiculous that such a small centre as the Comox Valley has 4? governing bodies. If a large centre like Toronto can do it certainly we could too. The 4 should amalgamate, revise the OCP to designate specific growth areas/strategies and start sending a clear unified message to developers. We have everything here to be an outdoor/tourism Mecca. This disjointed/patchwork/inconsistent approach we have now is unfortunate. If we amalgamated, skimmed the fat we could attract a better quality of personnel at all levels but specifically the planning, building and engineering departments.

Electoral Area B Comments

These are the written comments made by Electoral Area B residents who participated in Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review. Comments that breached our journalistic standards have been eliminated. All other comments appear as entered into the online survey platform. Click on each image to enlarge the view.

Arzeena Hamir

I like Arzeena because she asks the tough questions other directors are sometimes hesitant to ask.

Arzeena has been very supportive of our fight with the SEwage Commission to rid our neighbourhood of the stink from the CVWPCC.

She is excellent. I’ll vote for her again. We can’t do better.

Arzeena takes the time to become informed about issues. I value her knowledge and input

I have HUGE respect for Arzeena. She exudes such integrity, respect and knowledge. Honestly don’t know how she does it while running an organic farm, raising kids etc. It was an honour to help with her campaign.

Needs to be in the news more, and provide more newsletters to keep us informed

Don’t know what’s going on at the Regional District.

Arzeena always responds to concerns and takes action.

I like her position on 3L She is on the right track with most things. I am glad she is looking after the farming community.

Have heard or read nothing from her.

I like her. She cares about the environment and seems approachable and honest, unlike many politicians.

She seems to use a common-sense approach.

Arzeena is working hard to bring in new and progressive governing.

Have been very impressed with Director Hamir in every way. Particularly appreciated her support of Curtis Road residents in our difficulties with the Sewage Treatment plant.

Arzeena Hamir is an outstanding director. I highly respect her for her willingness to speak up and be vocal about issues she feels strongly about. She communicates professionally and thoroughly researches issues she’s addressing. She has been unafraid to speak publicly about CVEDS, and other challenges the CVRD is facing.

She is doing an excellent job. Smart, informed, good listener, principled, won’t be bullied by the old boys.

There is no outreach to Area B residents that I am aware of. It would be useful to have the opportunity to sign up for updates on issues that our director is involved with.

Doesn’t even answer or return messages.

Ms. Hamir is a positive force for thoughtful & considered decision-making.

Don’t hear much from her.

Invisible

Area B Comments on CVRD

I want to board to totally transform the economic development function. I do not want the board to include a misnamed agriplex on the exhibition grounds.

I think that Arzeena is very intelligent, committed and ethical.

I think compared to many decades previously we have a very progressive CVRD board of directors.

Do not take interest in anything outside of their special interests

In terms of big projects, I think the new water filtration plant has been mostly handled well, the emergency notification system works for me, and I sincerely hope that we will get garbage pick up in the future – I am glad to see that this project is at least ongoing. The RD also supports some affordable housing initiatives. As to other critical issues, many are outside jurisdictions not local governments… eg health, welfare rates etc

We really don’t get much information on what happens. Some more outreach to residents would be appreciated.

Happy with the exception of how the Area C Director has voted on 3L as he is pro 3L, I am NOT. Re unified parks program…Edwin Grieve did raise this issue which is good. Otherwise, I like most of what the Directors are doing.

There is little contact or information passed to the residents

Not sure who to blame but we are losing land to development. No trails along Lazo Rd from Torrence to Balmoral where many people walk. They have sold a lot of water access pathways in our area.

Arzeena is an amazing leader and not a bit afraid to make tough decisions nor is she afraid to stand steady in her leadership and opinions.

Would appreciate more communication with constituents regarding issues and projects.

The CVRD could have been doing a better job overseeing CVEDS rather than leaving it to this point. I’m also not overly impressed with their COVID response.

The board structure creates its own historical problems.

Seem to have a focus on small issues versus bigger picture and allow other jurisdictions to treat Electoral Areas as a whipping post

Directors appear to make decisions based on evidence & consultation. Good communication.

We live in a so-called desirable area without any services (water, sewer) at all. Our taxes are nearly $4,000 a year before grants. Our road is a washboard of sunken areas, potholes, broken down edges and only a spattering of rough patchwork has been done over the past decade. We get the runaround when we call to complain, are told to call the contractor who says it’s the responsibility of the Ministry of Highways. In other words, nothing gets done.

Very low key. Administration leads

Area B Issues

These are all critical issues. child care, less so for the RD that other local governments as the RD is an older community

We need to preserve the green areas in Area B. We also need to stand up to Comox Council and Courtenay council. They use our area B to dispose of sewerage, while giving us no say in the matter.

Non of the above. The best service to the people would be to continue the self-lockdown. Don’t do anything, so you won’t do any more damage.

Bike and walking allowances should be included in transport planning. Bike lanes should be much wider from Lazo Road to the airport

Any new development should have mandatory solar panels? Mandatory charging stations? Why not get going in the right direction.

Not sure if they can but stop letting the Town of Comox from taking CVRD land, and from paving it and developing it. Cutting down beautiful forests and animal habitats. Make room for nature. Stop any use or sale of poisons especially rat poison that kill our birds of prey.

I would like to see an RD Parks function

Active Transportation protecting Stotan falls area and Bevan trail and watershed area

Most important issues for me are related to addressing climate change, creating a better infrastructure to support cycling, and addressing food insecurity.

I am completely opposed to a food hub. I do not believe this appropriately or adequately addresses food security. This does not serve to address food sovereignty. This proposal serves a non-profit seeking more control and funding of local food when de-centralizing food systems is the only path to actually addressing food security. Small scale farms are currently thriving. The only major change I would like to see is another small abattoir so that there isn’t a monopoly on small scale meat processing. I would love to see a ban of glyphosate and for the RD and municipalities to stop allowing it because it is used for knotweed. The school district needs to address the bullying, violence, homophobic and racist behaviour happening in and around schools. And finally but most importantly, we could continue to strengthen our relationship with K’omoks First Nation.

Overarching priority should be relations with K’omoks First Nation and reconciliation as per UNDRIP and the TRC’s Calls to Action. This priority should be the lens through which all other issues are addressed.

Stand up for how the Electoral areas are used and abused by Town of Comox and City of Courtenay

How can I narrow the list down to the highest priorities? Each of these are priorities that impact residents valley-wide.

Need the CVRD to lead initiatives for a common growth strategy for the entire Comox Vally, with Courtenay,Comox, Cumberland, KFN