City of Courtenay Municipal Candidates: Election 2018

On Oct. 20, Courtenay voters will choose a Mayor and six City Council members from the four mayoralty candidates and 16 council candidates. Three council incumbents are seeking re-election. Decafnation asked the candidates to respond to questions that might help voters decide how to cast their ballots. Here are their responses, sorted by the questions and alphabetically by candidates’ last names. Decafnation did not edit the responses, except for length. Not all candidates chose to respond.

?Given that Courtenay’s taxation rate has risen faster than the cost of living over the last five years, what is your position on tax increases going forward?

Candidates for Mayor

Erik Eriksson, Larry Jangula, Harold Long, Bob Wells

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

The present tax increases are not sustainable and we need a council that will act responsibly now. In the last taxation year the city spent more, than the taxes generated. As municipalities must balance their budget, the city had to draw on their reserve funds. I assume the council chose not to raise taxes even higher. Oh yes it is an election year.To add salt to the taxpayers wounds, Mayor and Council voted themselves an 8 1/2% to 9% raise just a week ago. Maybe the new Mayor should take a 50% pay reduction until the citys financial house is in order. That will take a few years even if the spending habits change now.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

I believe that we need to keep a close eye on taxes to make sure our citizens are getting the best bang for their buck.  When I was first elected 4 years ago there was no paving program to keep our roads from crumbling.  This was a program that was endorsed unanimously by council which of course has financial repercussions.  The stance to keep taxes as low as possible must be balanced with an Asset Management Plan to ensure we are properly planning, and budgeting, for the future.  Decades of ignoring our infrastructure deficit did not make it go away, but instead put us in a more expensive reactive mode. I’m confident our Asset Management Plan along with proper preventative maintenance will save us money in the long run.  I am proud that we passed a 1.5% tax increase this year but welcome a Core Services Review to ensure we are providing the services that our citizens want AND are willing to pay for. Since I was first elected I have been traveling to Victoria and Ottawa to lobby the Provincial and Federal governments for grant funding to ensure our large infrastructure projects can be completed while pushing for a more sustainable funding model – where municipalities are not fighting against each other for limited grants. As Mayor I will also continue to be active in encouraging local entrepreneurs and attracting businesses to Courtenay which in turn will increase our tax base.

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

The increase in the taxation rate in the City of Courtenay is quickly making the city unaffordable, especially to those on fixed incomes and new families who make up a large segment of our population. The effect of municipal taxes is the key driver, after realty costs, causing our current affordability crisis for both homeowners and renters. Furthermore, inefficiencies and wasteful spending in the delivery of services were not looked at in detail during the tax increase discussion, which should be alarming to all of our taxpayers. If we were a private business, we would be bankrupt. The supporters of the latest tax increase claim the city was responsible for a 1.5% increase, yet the average increase was closer to 6% taking into account Regional District and other allocations. This is simply unsustainable, and would have the effect of doubling our taxes in a period of 11 short years. We need to focus on improving the efficiency of our core service delivery, and avoid discussions on initiatives that are outside of our control. It is important to have vibrant arts and culture, recreation, and beautification, but no one will be able to enjoy these amenities if they cannot afford to live here. Tax increases should be the last resort of every budget discussion once all other channels for efficiency improvements have been exhausted, not an open check book paid for on the backs of the majority of taxpayers that are just trying to make ends meet.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

I would like to see as few tax increases as possible in the coming years. I believe that we can reduce the tax burden in the long run by adopting a more balanced approach to housing development. If we build a greater proportion of new housing units within the City’s existing network of streets and services, we can ensure that the City spends as little as possible on infrastructure for each new dollar of property taxes it brings in. As any business owner will tell you, if you reduce costs you will retain more of each dollar of revenue. Greater density is proven to promote transit use and make for safer communities – thus allowing the City to reduce the amount it spends to support transit and policing. Greater density also reduces the number of vehicle trips per person, which saves wear and tear on existing roads and bridges and reduces the need for new ones. Finally, greater density is shown to support local businesses which increases the City’s revenue from property tax on businesses. Increasing density would improve our stock of affordable housing, make our streets safer and more walkable, strengthen our downtown, support transit, and, fundamentally, it’s the best deal for taxpayers. Long term, this is how we will keep property taxes in line.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

The tax rate, if properly managed, should never exceed the average cost of living for that year. In years of growth the extra revenue should be put away in an investment account for future use. In years of population decline or economic contraction the reserve funds can be used to hold the tax rate to the cost of living. The only constant is change, right now we are in a period of growth and we should prepare for when that changes.

David Frisch

David Frisch

My solution for increasing pressure on taxpayers is a shift to smart growth principles which favours densification over sprawl and active transportation over the private car culture. By developing housing near our existing infrastructure we minimize the cost for roads, sewers, and water while making transportation by less expensive modes like walking, mobility scooter, bike, transit etc. easier. Just as our current situation is the outcome of decades of choices by past generations, we must plan ahead to avoid continuing infrastructure deficits.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

I believe we need to limit tax increases to the level necessary to maintain important City services, while looking to implement economies where we can. This may mean revising the current practice of awarding some grants from gaming revenues and applying those funds to fixed costs, such as policing, as is currently done with a portion of those revenues. We also need to keep exploring other efficiencies and building our economic base to grow revenues. Courtenay’s taxes are within the range of comparable local governments. Still, we must always be mindful of living within our means and maintaining services while keeping taxes affordable.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

I will do my best to not support a tax increase. I will not make a promise I may not be able to keep. I understand how upsetting it is for residents when they cannot afford their home through municipal taxes. I will be collaborative and creative with budget restraints and solutions on council.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

Many of the City’s taxpayers are on a fixed income. For those working, their incomes have risen slower than the City’s taxes. Taxes should not be increasing faster than the citizens ability to pay. The City can be more efficient and effective in their spending. The current Council is not being fiscally responsible. As your City Councillor, I will work to ensure that citizens get good value for their tax dollar and that each dollar is spent wisely. The City’s priorities need to be re-set and directed only towards the key services and community development.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

Tax rates should not increase more than the cost of living. The average homeowner in Courtenay pays more than Comox residents, and less than the average for Campbell River or Nanaimo. City council should continue to look for efficiencies, such as increased housing density and economy diversity, so tax rate increases going forward are less than the change in cost of living. The next City Council must focus on long-term planning and densification, so that services can be delivered more efficiently as we go forward. Large tax rate increases occur when municipalities fail to look ahead and implement long-term fiscal planning. Capital projects, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, and services delivery changes can all be implemented incrementally when decisions are informed by long-term planning and quality information. Courtenay’s asset management policy is an example of how good information and good planning provides a more efficient and predictable use of revenue. The City of Courtenay’s residential tax rate increase 2.83% last year (the cost of living increase was 2.1% for 2017). This is representative of average for Vancouver Island municipalities, but shows there’s work to be done to get tax increases reduced.

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

When we have major expenses such as infrastructure repair and replacement, in addition to all the services citizens want, it is very difficult to hold taxes. It’s unfortunate we are in a position of playing catch up for costs that were not budgeted for over many years. Taking advantage of provincial and federal grants, introducing social procurement, and implementing sustainability practices are ways to reduce costs to taxpayers.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

I would like to see a Core Services Review as Courtenay does have the highest taxation rate in the valley. I know that we do have a debt, but Langford also has debts and their tax rate is still much lower.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

A newly elected council should take the following actions: 1–determine what services the public want and need; 2–determine how those services could be provided in a most cost efficient manner; 3–determine who should be providing those services.  We can’t keep providing all the services people want now and may want into the future without taking a good look at whether we can still provide those services at least in the manner we have in the past.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

I have heard from many people in Courtenay regarding the increase in taxes. Cutting taxes, just to say you are going to cut taxes is not the answer. One of the first things that a new council has to do is approve the budget for the Spring. We need to mindfully look at the budget, find out where we are spending the money and go from there.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

I believe the increases of property taxes are unsustainable. As an example my property taxes in Courtenay have risen nearly $800 dollars over the past 4 years. At this rate they will double in a 15 year period meanwhile income levels remain stagnant. Many people in our community are on fixed incomes and cannot afford to absorb these increases.As an alternative to tax increases I will continue to speak in favour of seeking efficiencies in each department. Minimizing studies will also reduce the city budget. Attracting new business to Courtenay would bring in tax revenue while creating jobs at the same time. I voted against the 2017 and the 2018 budgets feeling the increase for the multiple new staff positions was excessive and without a clear plan of how the positions would be funded moving forward. I will work hard to keep tax increases in check.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

Good municipal government must set clear priorities, and remember at all times that we are TRUSTEES of the public’s money.  Holding the line on taxes is crucial during these challenging times. Without major industry, we have a limited funding base. Taxes directly affect our standard of living, in particular citizens on fixed incomes and pensions.

?What steps would you take or support to achieve greater transparency and open government at Courtenay City Hall?

Courtenay’s eligible voters in 2014 = 19,853

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

Only two subjects require closed meeting, legal matters and discussions on city employees. The mayor and council should be reminded that it is not a venue to discuss excessive spending.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

I voted to allow in-camera voting results to be released when they are no longer needed to be kept in-camera. Over the past 4 years we have used online tools such as connectcvrd.ca and courtenay.ca/urbanforest to provide citizens the opportunity to provide input.  I’m proud that the City of Courtenay has adopted Open Data practices so that information can be easily used and re-used by citizens.   I commit to continue the dialogue with our community and have always had an open door.  As Mayor I will continue to utilize social media when appropriate to keep our citizens informed and engaged in decisions we make at council.

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

The transparency of our current council, and their communication of the issues to the general public have been sadly lacking. An increase in non-statutory in-camera meetings has only contributed to the general distrust of the decisions being made by council that affect us all. I believe that council needs to take steps to disseminate meeting minutes and video to our constituents through modern social media platforms, and better communicate councilors positions on all votes that are not unanimous. I pledge to my constituents, that if elected I will write positions statements following debate in chambers on all split votes to explain who or what influenced my vote. I will encourage other members of council to take a more proactive approach at engaging and informing the public through increased traditional and social media outreach. Our City needs to be approachable, and have policies in place that encourage community engagement.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

There is an old and wise expression that ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’, I would like to see more of Council’s business conducted in public. Because closed meetings are, by definition, kept from the public, it is impossible for anyone other than current Mayor and Council to know why these meetings were held behind closed doors. As a member of the community I can only say that I would like to see as few closed hearings as possible. Where meetings are kept closed, I believe that Council should offer a clear and public explanation as to why.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

Transparency is achieved by holding council meetings in public and only using in camera meetings where required by law. Once an in camera issue is no longer legally required to be private the recording of the meeting should be posted on the City website. Open government should provide more consultation with people and groups affected by policy before action is taken.

David Frisch

David Frisch

I believe one of the most effective ways to build confidence in our local government is to invest more in public communications and public engagement. As our world becomes more connected electronically, I find that we expect to stay more informed on the ever increasing issues affecting us and continue to have input on decisions.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

I support open government, as evidenced by the initiatives I brought forward to video stream Council meetings and record votes. The City has done a good job improving its online presence and its open houses, surveys and forums on issues like the Tree Bylaw, Urban Forest Strategy and cannabis legalization have been very well received. We should continue to strive to inform and engage citizens as much as possible. The so-called tax-payers alliance has pushed lack of transparency as an issue but it is bogus propaganda designed to undermine public confidence in City staff and Council for political ends. In reality, Council only goes in-camera in compliance with the Community Charter to address land, legal and personnel issues, and many such issues are later brought into the open including voting records. Significantly, Councillor Theos and the Mayor have never voted against going in-camera.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

I will try to improve communication between city hall and residents. I have heard residents say they would like city hall to be more receptive to advisory committees and neighborhood concerns. The advisory committee on cycling infrastructure is an example of the need for a better relationship.   

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

The Community Charter is very clear on what Council can discuss in-camera. The public perception is that too much is discussed behind closed doors. There is room for improvement regarding transparency and openness. Social media can be effectively used to keep the public informed on activities and issues at City Hall. More information can be placed online and on social media. Public collaboration and discussion should be encouraged. Community input should be sought by staff and Council. An initial step can be to open up Council meetings to accepting public input via social media.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

No unnecessary in-camera meetings. Accountability and transparency are integral parts of good government. I understand there’s criticism of the number of in-camera meetings at City Hall, but I have no information around how many of the in-camera meetings have been at the discretion of council and how many are required by the Community Charter. As a member of council, I would not want in-camera meetings conducted at the discretion of council, unless there is a very clear and necessary rationale for limiting the public’s access to information, such as the evaluation of personnel or the handling of a legal matter.

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

I am advocating for increasing citizen engagement by doing outreach to the community. Periodically we could hold meetings outside of city hall, and hold informal town hall type discussions on a variety of topics. I would be open to making myself available out in the community on a regular basis to get to know folks, to hear concerns, and to hear positive feedback on what’s working for them. There are some discussions that must take place ‘in camera’, such as personnel issues.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

I think education and information is key. I would like to see Staff Directories for each department, with the name, title and contact information. Residents have been questioning the hiring of extra staff, and it would have been beneficial to know about the departments at city hall, a description of the responsibilities, stats, etc. Yes, the Annual Report summarizes some of these items, but the Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw 2919 has a photo of a booklet, but no link.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

Council should ensure that if an “in camera” item should arise, whether it really should be held in camera and if so it should be reported back to the public as soon as possible.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

I feel that council should communicate with the people more often. If you do not have a facebook page, and you are not friends with a councillor, then you really don’t get any updates. Yes, it is up to the people to go onto the City website and read the minutes of the meetings if they want information, but as a Past President of a few boards, we know this does not happen. Also, I find that many more in camera sessions seem to be on the agenda than before. I understand the rules of the in camera, but we can lessen them without infringing on the Community Charter.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

An important initiative as of recent was the decision to make public how councillors vote during in-camera meetings. The public should be informed of any significant issues facing the city as early as possible and follow up with collaboration and a dialogue throughout the process. If not the public might feel blindsided and lose confidence as a result.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

Legally, closed door meetings (in camera) cannot take place unless the issue being discussed is personnel related, labour relations and contract negotiations, buying or selling property, legal advice, or security issues.  I would like to encourage all Regional District meetings, including water and sewer meetings to be televised or video-streamed.  Many very important issues that affect all residents of the Comox Valley are decided at these Regional District meetings and if residents were given the opportunity to see the meetings, it would give them an understanding of how the Regional District operates.

?How should the city start adapting to a changing climate?

How many voted in 2014 = 6,150

 

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

Cutting equipment emissions like using natural gas fuel and the use of solar power would help. And preparation of measures to address rising sea levels and shortage of rain fall.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Since the storms after the 2014 election we have had to face climate change on many fronts.  From using aquadams to keep river water controlled in the Puntledge Industrial area to using earned media to educate people on the need for water conservation during our driest summer ever, the past 4 years have given us many challenges.  We need to install culverts along the bypass between the 17th St Bridge and Ryan Rd so that it does not act like a dam during floods – resulting in increased flooding to many businesses.   With more people moving to Courtenay every day, we need to ensure we have an effective water conservation and education plan. The good news is that water usage has been going down per capita in the Comox Valley.  I see water quantity as a major issue and as Mayor will continue to support conservation education and practices.

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

The City needs to design and build future infrastructure with our changing climate in mind; we can no longer ignore that this will not have an affect on our City going forward. Doing a climate change risk assessment through the lens of existing and future infrastructure projects will ensure that informed decisions are made to mitigate risks to avoid costly upgrades down the road. Let’s plan now, for a better future.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

In the coming years our greatest concern will be flooding of the Courtenay River. Research shows that hardening the edges of rivers is not an effective way to manage the greater water flows that will come with a changing climate, it only serves to make breaches more catastrophic and to focus the power of water on the weakest points. The Kus-Kus-Sum project is an example of the type of work that we need to be undertaking. We need to remove hard barriers and allow natural outlets for the river when flows are high. I would also like to see if there is a way of integrating the Ducks Unlimited land, on the east side of the connector and Dyke Road as a natural overflow area. This is the area that river naturally flooded before the dyke was constructed. If culverts were built under the road, we could restore that natural safety valve in times of heavy flow.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

At the City level the two main things would be to restrict construction on low lying waterfront and in particular no high density residential developments. Being in an earthquake zone our highest residential density areas should be in east Courtenay near the new hospital. Second is water security, a forest fire in the water shed could have a dramatic effect on our water supply. Do we have a alternate supply of water and are we giving our in-ground aquifer the highest level of protection we can?

David Frisch

David Frisch

I believe the two most pressing local issues as a result of climate change will be Stormwater Management, and Droughts and Water Supply. With our current plan to build a deep water intake at the lake, I think water conservation is our best avenue for maintaining our potable water supply during droughts. More challenging will be the dealing with stormwater. We must make policy to encourage permeable surfaces, especially for paths and parking, to reduce the stress on our stormwater pipes, and we must plan to return the Courtenay River banks to their historical profiles to avoid damaging floods near our downtown. Historical drainage through the delta (Farquharson’s Farm) has been cut by the bypass and must be opened up for water to pass. Additionally, a waterway through Lewis park connecting the slough to the puntledge could be a wise investment for flood relief. Maintaining the natural ecosystems in our parks and surrounding areas is critical to slowing the flow of water through our city.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

Although our Mayor disagrees that human activity has an impact on the climate and regularly sends out literature debunking climate science, we are as a community addressing climate change in a number of ways, including the following:   • Courtenay signed B.C.’s Climate Action Charter in 2007, recognizing the need for action on climate change and the important role local governments can play. Our Official Community Plan (OCP) states: “The potential threat associated with global changing climatic conditions has global, regional and local implications for ecosystems, infrastructure and people”;   • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in City operations, while seeking energy efficiency in all our buildings and vehicles;   • Collaborating with organizations like Project Watershed and the Conservation strategy to better manage our streams and fish and wildlife resources, while also working with developers to mitigate the environmental impact of new building;   • Working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to mitigate flooding by culverting the Hwy 19 bypass, which currently acts as a dike, to give rising river water access to the flood plain.   • Collaborating with K’omoks First Nation and Project Watershed to restore the old sawmill site as the Kus-Kus-Sum project. Apart from the aesthetic and recreational benefits, this project will facilitate significant flood mitigation and enhance the area as a carbon sink, while also promoting reconciliation;   • Promoting rain gardens in new development and projects like the Complete Streets Pilot to retain and manage storm water.   • Promoting managed retreat on our foreshore to reduce the impact of rising tides   • Limiting new construction on the floodplain;   • Implementing an improved tree preservation bylaw and developing an Urban Forest Strategy.  Other initiatives I’m hopeful we’ll consider include:   • Preservation of the Morrison Creek headwaters;   • Promoting alternate technologies like solar and wind;   • Investigating municipally financed loans for energy retro-fitting of local homes;   • Building more complete streets.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kus-kus-sum is one of my platform pieces. Estuaries are among the most productive habitats on Earth containing rich biodiversity. The Courtenay Estuary once contained all five species of salmon. The Comox Valley is traditionally known as “the land of plenty.” This is especially recognized by the K’ómoks First Nation and is central to their regional identity.   The K’ómoks Estuary is second to the Fraser River Estuary in supporting migratory birds in BC’s part of the Pacific Flyway. The estuary remains in the top 5 of only 8 class 1 sites in BC. The long-term benefits are valuable to Comox Valley Residents. The official Community Plan calls for action on climate change and mitigation measures to deal with it. The knowledge is clear – unless we act, this precious asset to the Comox Valley will be lost. The City of Courtenay is a third partner in the Kus Kus Sum project, along with the K’ómoks First Nation and Project Watershed. The full restoration of the old Field Sawmill site will create cleaner air and water. It will mitigate flood risk in the downtown core. It will help buffer extreme weather events caused by convergences of high tide, heavy rains, and storm surges. City officials view this project as a cost-effective benefit to aging infrastructure and ecosystem decline. We must view our natural assets as just as important as brick and mortar. I support the purchase and rehabilitation of the old saw mill site. The community has collaboratively worked hard to gain support across the Comox Valley. I propose we make a one-time donation from the Gaming Reserve Fund to support the acquisition of this site. It provides improvement to the biodiversity of the Courtenay Estuary and raises the quality of life for people in the Comox Valley. If the province sees the municipality taking a strong financial role, then the chance of provincial dollars contributing to this project is increased. The province has instructed municipalities to create a plan dealing with flood mitigation due to climate change. I do not support a third bridge crossing at this site. The financial support of Kus Kus Sum meets the Regional Growth Strategy Goals of ecosystems, natural areas, and parks, climate change, and public health and safety. The financial support of Kus Kus Sum is congruent with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Canada has committed to fulfilling these goals. We can start with implementing water metering rates for the big outfits in town such as car dealerships and golf courses. Water metering strategy is directly mentioned in the Official Community Plan. Cumberland has used this strategy and was able to reduce water consumption to 2004 levels. We can make a one-time donation to Morrison Headwaters Nature Preserve property acquisition from the Gaming Fund Reserve. The Comox Valley Land Trust has signaled this project as a priority in its overall strategy.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

We must think globally and act locally. Even though we are only one small community, there are actions that we can take. Our provincial government has developed a Climate Action toolkit that municipalities can reference. We can also look at other progressive jurisdictions, such as California, for concepts that work. The City has broad influence and authority over many activities that contribute to climate change. Through land use, transportation, and building standards policies we can significantly reduce direct and indirect green house gases (GHG). Additional actions can reduce our carbon footprint (become carbon neutral), encourage recycling and composting, eliminate wood burning stoves. We should also encourage collaboration with the citizens and community to gather their ideas. They are the local experts. As your Councillor, I will work to implement policies for a sustainable environment.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

Future-proof infrastructure solutions. Courtenay is a coastal city, and the costs of ignoring climate change are just too high. Local government must begin to consider what infrastructure will be impacted by sea-level rise and increased flood risk. Infrastructure will need to be re-engineered — or even moved — to address changing water levels.  This needs to be a major consideration for infrastructure projects and maintenance. The city must begin to allocate funds to address these issues, as they are long-term, ongoing, and come with significant costs. Municipal officials have a duty to ensure these issues are identified, and appeal to Federal and Provincial governments for funding to address this effectively. Courtenay must also account for flood zones, consider the type of building allowed, and perhaps limit new building all together, depending on the risk level. The City should also continue to increase tree and vegetation planting within our urban landscape. Trees and vegetation can help address stormwater, while also lowering temperatures during summer months.  

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

Acting on recommendations in the Comox Valley Sustainability document is a good start. We need to consider the impacts of climate change in our planning, infrastructure, development, and transportation decisions. For example, the city is currently inviting feedback toward an Urban Forest Strategy.  Urban forest strategies are shown to help reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions as well as provide shade, cooling, improve air quality, and absorb rainwater.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

Reducing our use of fossil fuels and increasing the use of alternative energy sources, i.e. solar panels and wind turbines, would be an excellent start.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

Should put a hold on building on or additions to development on the Comox Valley flood plain.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

We need to work with the Provincial and Federal Governments to tackle this topic. Advocating for our community and developing relationships is key.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

Advanced recycling is an important alternative to landfills. I was recently in Europe and Solar and wind power alternatives are becoming very common.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

The City has been gradually addressing climate change issues in the past years, most recently the flooding.

?Please explain your position on banning single-use plastic bags and straws.

Courtenay’s 2014 voter percentage = 30.98%

 

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

I believe paying for plastic bags and educating the public on recycling will help. A campaign to purchase multi use plastic bags that can be sanitized would help with meat products. On takeout drinks it is not desirable to drink from paper cups or straws. Education will help train the users for proper disposal.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Having worked on many beach cleanups I have seen the havoc that plastics can cause in our oceans.  I will continue to work with business groups locally not only to celebrate the work being done but to also encourage businesses to turn to options that are less damaging.   I am very encouraged by all the local businesses that have already stepped up to ban straws and plastic bags from their businesses – and will work to see this trend continue. 

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

While this initiative is a drop in the bucket of the larger issue of plastic use and over-packaging, I believe it acts as a starting point that can influence and inform the larger discussion regarding consumption and waste. If the majority of business owners support this policy and it is revenue neutral in terms of tax dollars spent, then I am fully supportive of this and similar initiatives.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

I see the merit to this proposal. I favour working with the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association and the Chamber of Commerce to develop an implementation strategy and timetable. Working with stakeholders will allow concerns to be addressed, cost to be minimized and will ensure maximum buy-in from businesses.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

Ban all plastic straws, and work towards replacing all single use plastic bags with biodegradable alternatives.

David Frisch

David Frisch

I am generally in favour of banning single-use plastic bags. I think it is timely reminder for us, as citizens, to do our best to protect our environment. Of course their will be exceptions, but it will encourage us to learn to use alternative methods of packaging and garbage collection.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

I note the Chamber of Commerce investigated a ban some years ago and the City opted for a voluntary approach. I think the community is ready to take this a step further due to growing awareness of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and I am in favour of us considering a ban. I’ve looked into bans on single use plastics implemented in Montreal and Victoria plus the one proposed for Parksville. Those examples provide us with workable models but we would need to engage the community and work closely with our business sector to design and implement such a ban here.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

This is one of my platform pieces. We can, through consultation, ban all single use plastics. Single use plastics have found their way into our food supply. Vancouver has already started the transition and we can too. We must start somewhere for the preservation of our children’s future.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

I support the banning of single use plastic bags. This is becoming a world-wide initiative and Courtenay needs to demonstrate its concern about the environment. Banning these plastic bags alone will not have a significant impact on the world’s plastic pollution problem, but it is a start. This raises awareness about this problem. It makes us think and identify other actions we can take to reduce waste, plus reuse/recycle more.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

I support the ban of single-use plastic bags and straws. This type of change is more symbolic than anything and many retailers have already done this without a bylaw. Both grocery stores near downtown (Thrifty’s and Edible Island) do not provide single use plastic bags, and haven’t done so for a number of years. Victoria has successfully passed this by-law, and Parksville is in the processes of doing the same, so we can look to their process for a blueprint to implement a similar by-law in our municipality.

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

I am in favour of banning single-use plastic bags and straws. Involving the business community and gradually phasing in the change are key components for a successful plan.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

It is definitely a step in the right direction as everyone can use their own bags for groceries; however, change will need to start with industries developing biodegradable containers for meat, vegetables, fertilizers, soil, manure, insulation, etc. The hospital industry is one of the biggest users of plastic items.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

After a holiday to Australia and when I was on council in the past I raised the issue of banning plastic bags and I would also add straws.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

Firstly we should study the impact on small business in the City. This could be a huge impact on Downtown businesses and other small businesses in Courtenay.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

I’m in favour of banning single-use plastic bags. I have my beverages straw free as personal preference. It appears that a number of food and beverage establishments are now saving costs and garbage space by going straw free.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

I support the banning or greatly reducing the use of plastic bags and straws.  This issue was brought forward to Council several years ago by Murray Presley and I supported the initiative at that time.  I commend the Retail Merchants who stopped using plastic bags, but we have more work to do.

?Are there major capital projects the village should undertake during your four-year term, and why?

David Frisch got the most votes in 2014 with 3,671

 

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

The first project on the agenda should be the East Courtenay Satellite Fire Hall that was recommended 5 years ago as a safety issue. I have seen no indication that the present council even know that it is required. The Evergreen Senior Center is bursting at the seams. Mayor and Council should get on board with former mayor Ron Webber’s plan for expansion. Resolving the ever increasing traffic congestion must be addressed. We don’t need an additional bridge. The traffic flow on both sides of the bridge is the problem.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

The city needs to complete the Asset Management Plan which will create a roadmap to works required in order of importance and costs associated.  We have already started a paving program to get some of our streets that were crumbling back into shape so that they are better to travel on and residents can be proud of them.  Repainting the 5th St Bridge and looking at options to increase capacity for multimodal transportation.  Working with the Province I would like to see the Courtenay Slough be limited to smaller vessels which would remove the necessity for the 17th St drawbridge – so it would be much less expensive to adapt it to our growing needs.  Double-laning the bypass from 17th St Bridge to Ryan Road while installing culverts to reduce flooding in the Puntledge Business District. I think it is worthy to note that a study on garbage going into our landfill showed that up to 50% could be diverted through an organics program and education on proper recycling.  This is a major project that I support and will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly and extend the life of our very expensive landfill.  I also sit on the Solid Waste Advanced Technology Committee where we are exploring innovative solutions that could divert up to 90% of garbage from our landfill.  We have met with Andrew Weaver to update our Landfill Regulations to allow for innovation to reduce landfill and greenhouse gases.

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

The City of Courtenay is woefully behind on infrastructure improvements, specifically transportation, for which they bear the greatest burden regionally. Council has historically been reactionary, rather than proactive in this regard and with our recent growth this policy is starting to show cracks. We need to build a bridge to support not just our current demand, but also the demand we can reasonably forecast 25 years in the future. If we had a crossing location decided, and had funding from the province and federal government in place, we would still be 2-3 years away from this plan becoming a reality. Improvements can be made to reduce current congestion on our existing infrastructure, but even if we could improve flow by 25% (which would be an amazing result) it would only be a band-aid solution to the long-term projected increase. Having worked on large projects, I understand the time requirements for this type of project to come to fruition, and commit to getting the ball rolling. Not talking about a bridge and transportation upgrades is no longer an option; we need action.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

Other than necessary infrastructure repair and maintenance, given our tax rate, I don’t think Courtenay is in a position to undertake major new capital projects at this time.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

Quick answer, no we do not need nor can we afford any MAJOR projects right now. That said a MODERATE project I may support is the development of a City fibre-optic network, like Campbell River has done. I have already met with the engineer who developed their network as well as Campbell River city staff. They are ready willing and interested in meeting with Courtenay staff to help develop our own City network. To the best of my knowledge Campbell River is now planning phase two “open air 5G access”. Courtenay needs to be competitive to attract new development to our downtown core. More than tax breaks, high speed broadband access is what will attract new and future development dollars. Campbell River has taken bold steps with their vision to build a modern high tech region on Vancouver Island. We should join them and build a local information economy. Now is the opportunity for our community.

David Frisch

David Frisch

The three most important projects for the city, in my opinion, are housing, transportation, and downtown densification. While not specifically a capital project, we must update our zoning and bylaws to encourage rental housing, both market and below market units, and support our developers in creating more flexible infill housing and mixed use neighbourhoods. For transportation, we must plan and begin to implement a multi-decade vision for how we travel around the valley while maintaining our most valued assets – our environment and our culture. We should be investing, through partnerships with provincial and federal governments, in active transportation, especially walking, biking, mobility scooters, transit, and even car sharing like Uber. While moving people in cars is important, it is also the most expensive and we should diversify our roadways to save taxpayer dollars before committing to millions in roadway expansions at the cost of our access to nature. Finally, we must continue to invest in our downtown. We have developed a Downtown Playbook which outlines projects like improving walkability on 4th and 6th streets, creating a pedestrian street, and building connectivity and access to the Courtenay River right in the heart of downtown. These projects need to be fleshed out and ready for partnership and grant opportunities.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

Here is a list of projects, all of which would be up for debate:   • The re-furbishing of the 5th St bridge is budgeted for 2019;   • The east Courtenay firehall remains as a budgeted item for 2020-21;    • The Filberg Centre is at capacity and will likely need some renovation and possibly expansion;   • We are working with MOTI advocating for intersection improvements, widening the Hwy 19 bypass with culverting to allow rising water to access the flood plain, and improving pedestrian safety on Ryan Rd. Hopefully most of this will be funded with provincial dollars;   • The Transportation Master Plan will speak to capital investment needs in our car, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure;   • Continued upgrading of our water and sewer infrastructure;   • There may be unexpected expenditures, such as the riverbank re-building near Lewis Park that was required on an emergency basis in 2016.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

This is one of my platform pieces. I have consulted with the project Manager of Viridian Energy Co-operative. He has produced a strong business case to install solar power at city hall. The supporting evidence is attached. The savings to Courtenay taxpayers is substantial over the long term. The Official Community Plan reaffirms our commitment to reduce climate change. Renewable energy provides an opportunity to save money and generate power for a variety of uses. Renewable energy is the single most important transition of our times. My daughter is counting on adults to be brave and support the transition to a low carbon society. When 15,000 scientists send a global warning to society about the consequence of not eliminating fossil fuels, we must act at the local level. The long-term goal is to switch municipal vehicles from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Renewable energy jobs are growing in the valley, creating the economy of the future now. The renewable energy meets the Regional Growth Strategy Goals of infrastructure and climate change. The transition to renewable energy is congruent with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Canada has committed to fulfilling these goals. We do have a traffic issue. The solutions I have heard from the public are round about on both sides of 17th street bridge, longer turning lane at Ryan RD at Back RD, a ring road and synchronized traffic lights at certain times of the day.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

There are many capital improvements that our citizens would like, that would improve our community. However, capital spending must be matched to the taxpayers’ ability to pay. All capital projects need to be prioritized to ensure that the citizens are receiving good value. The City is already participating in the valley’s water system improvement project, which is costing $110 million. The City’s 5-year financial plan identifies several other projects, including water, sewer and transportation. There is also a request for a new fire station on the east side. All of these are demands that need to be rationalized. I am not in favour of taking on any additional projects at this time that require taxpayer funding.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

Improved traffic flows and transportation options. Beyond the two projects already planned (a new public works yard and a fire hall for east Courtenay), I would like to see investment into improving traffic flows at the 17th bridge and improved multimodal transportation options near downtown. The next council will have the Transportation Master Plan delivered. Council will need to determine our priorities and how much we want to invest in our transportation improvements. Traffic issues are a major concern for people, and our capital project priorities should consider what investments we can make from our transportation plan to see the greatest improvement to mobility in Courtenay.  

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

The projects I’m passionate about are affordable housing for seniors and the creation of a town square, possibly on the corner where the theatre once was. According to statistics provided at the recent affordable housing town hall, seniors are the fastest growing group at risk of homelessness or who are homeless. We have been making progress on housing initiatives through partnerships with B.C. Housing and community agencies. I would like to continue this momentum. Town squares with small shops, perhaps with small suites above, combined with public green space and seating for public events and relaxation, create vibrancy and community connection in our downtown core. Another project I would like to see come to fruition is completion of the walkway between the airpark and Royston.  I’d also like to see a pedestrian bridge at the foot of 6th Street linking Simms Park to the river walkway.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

According to reports from 2014, a 2nd fire hall in East Courtenay was recommended and approved; however, it was not completed. Safety is of utmost importance, and the regional districts agree with the completion of a 2nd fire hall on Waters St.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

Until I am on council I would not have the advantage of hearing staff needs and other councillors and mayor’s needs. I just know that the City must review the capital projects and set affordable goals.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

This question cannot be answered without knowing the state of the budget that will be approved in April and moving forward.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

The painting of the 5th street bridge will be an important project to complete next year if all goes as planned.Addressing the increase of traffic has been a concern of many people I’m chatting with at he doors.Road maintenance and improvements throughout the city would be high on my list. The filberg expansion should be a topic of discussion.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

Traffic congestion is a real concern to the residents I am talking to in our Community.  This must be addressed now, starting with improvements to the 17th Street Crossing.  The cost of these improvements should be shared valley-wide, with the majority of funding coming from the Provincial Government.  We are also in the process of large, very costly projects for water and sewer, which cannot proceed without support from senior levels of government. 

?What can the city do to improve air quality, given that we rate as one of the worst in Canada?

Larry Jangula won the mayor’s race in 2014 with 3,483 votes over one opponent with 2,502

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

One of the major causes is from wood stoves. But for many it is a cost effective way of heating homes. Education forums on using seasoned wood, hotter flue temperatures and more efficient stoves would help with this problem.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

We have already provided grants to those upgrading to newer stoves, however I think the better solution is where we have offered larger grants to those moving off of wood stoves to cleaner forms of heating. This is very challenging as wood heat is very inexpensive and has a personal comfort for many people.  I would enhance the education program to make sure people in targeted “problem” areas are using their wood stoves properly as this has shown promise over the past year. I am in favour of not allowing wood stoves in new homes and for existing wood stoves to be inspected during a home sale to ensure it performs to current specifications.

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

This is a Valley-wide issue, and needs a Valley-wide solution. While localized residential burning is one of the major contributors to this issue, commercial/industrial burning of wood waste also needs to be regulated in the Regional District in order for any action to have a meaningful effect. Courtenay, and its regional partners, need to develop a joint plan to incentivize homeowners to switch to cleaner heating solutions and restrict backyard and industrial burning during high-risk periods. For those residents that will continue, for financial reasons or otherwise, to use wood as their primary heating source, we need to ensure that their burning devices are appropriate and meet efficiency requirements, and adopt enforceable emissions bylaws to that effect.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

I think that we should build selectively on the district wide CVRD Wood Stove Exchange Program which provides rebates for those replacing older stoves with higher efficiency wood stoves, pellet stove, gas stoves and heat pumps. While the CVRD program is a positive step, I believe that we need to add focussed incentives to encourage people to move beyond wood heat altogether. Even the most efficient wood stoves still produce almost 100 pounds of particulate matter per year. Compare this with 1/6 of a pound for natural gas and 0 for electric heat. The CVRD program offers a $600 rebate for those who replace low efficiency wood stoves with a gas stove and $1000 for an electric heat pump. I suggest that the City match those rebates, and only those ones. This would ensure that residents who choose to replace an old wood stove with a non-wood burning option would receive twice the incentive. In addition, I would encourage the CVRD to discontinue rebates for wood and pellet stoves and devote those funds exclusively to incentivize gas and electric upgrades. I also propose that the City implement no-burn days when air quality is at its worst. All homes in the city are required to have a thermostat operated heating system, and on those days, residents will have to use their heating systems rather than wood-based heating. Finally, I support an education program designed to teach people whose wood heating causes excessive smoke how to operate their stoves more cleanly. Opacity (the thickness of smoke) can be observed from the street and by-law officers could be empowered to contact homeowners who’s houses emit heavier, whiter smoke and provide instruction on how to burn more cleanly – by ensuring that wood is dry, that dampers are used to burn at a high temperature, etc. This could be combined with a penalty for those who, after receiving a warning and education about best practices, continue to emit excessive smoke.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

The City must work with the provincial government on a slash burning ban for all of the Island. As a pilot I often see smoke from Port Alberni or even north of Campbell River drift and descend on Courtenay. Smoke from a fire in Nanaimo had no problem travelling 100 km to reach us. On an average day the smoke in Courtenay is generally coming from Royston, and the south east of town. The smoke from the city of Courtenay, can be measured in Tsolum. Once a slash burning ban or restriction is in place, an incentive program to convert from wood to natural gas heat, would make sense to me and be worth pursuing.

David Frisch

David Frisch

Our poor air quality occurs on two occasions: during forest fire season and during high pressure winter conditions when wood stoves are being used to heat houses. Forest fires aside, I think our best avenue for healthier air quality is to create a long term plan to transition many of the homes using wood stoves to either heat pumps or natural gas appliances. This could be accomplished over time as people sell their homes when the cost of upgrading could be absorbed into a mortgage.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

We need to work with the initiatives already underway through the Regional District and engage with the advocacy groups to explore all the possibilities to improve air quality. Steps may include:   • Regulating woodstoves, including investigating new chimney technology;   • Monitoring and enforcing against bad burning practices;   • Provincial regulation of slash burning;   • A CVRD outdoor burning ban, as already implemented in Courtenay;   • Intersection improvements and improved transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to reduce vehicle congestion and excessive idling.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

The City of Courtenay plays an integral role in facilitating and contributing to clean air in the valley. Clean air is a community issue requiring a collective, collaborative, and long-term solution. The Official Community Plan speaks to solving this issue, with its provisions for improving residents’ quality of life and combating climate change. There are many potential solutions for addressing this important issue, which affects the health and well-being of the citizens of Courtenay. One would be for the municipality to introduce a bylaw for all new builds prohibiting the installation of wood stoves. The issue of transitioning to heating alternatives would require both public consultation and an inventory assessment of wood stoves in the City. Additionally, Courtenay should lobby the Regional District and Province for a complete ban on brush burning in valley. Alternative options for farms and the forestry industry to deal with waste would need to be facilitated. The Regional District, BC government, and BC Hydro offer subsidies to switch to heat pumps. Cumberland, CVRD, and Comox should be lobbied to adopt the same policy. Finding a solution to the issue of wood smoke would align perfectly with the Regional Growth Strategy goals of public health and safety and addressing climate change at the local level. The wood stove solution is also congruent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which Canada has committed to fulfilling.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

Everyone needs clean air to breathe and live. Legislation is not the best way to ensure high air quality is achieved in the valley. Our air is affected by activities outside the control of our region and from activities around the world. An example is the smoke we experienced this past summer,. Air quality becomes a global issue. Therefore, we must also look to education and negotiation to help solve this problem. We must begin to act locally by controlling open burning and minimizing the use of wood stoves. We should be composting rather than having open burning. Through financial incentives, we can encourage replacement of wood stoves in existing homes and eliminate them in new homes.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

Provide incentives to homeowners to convert to cleaner heat alternatives. I would support incentives, such as grants or rebates, to convert homes from wood heated to cleaner alternatives. I would also support a ban on installing wood stoves in new homes or homes that use a different type of heat, i.e. replacement of old wood stoves the only type of install allowed. I would also like to see bylaw and enforcement of stoves that are burning with excessive smoke pollution.

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

Although a wood burning fire has economic and other benefits to homeowners, we know the environmental and health impacts are a major concern. While the current council explored ways to ease out wood-burning stoves after the Guardian newspaper in the UK wrongly accused Courtenay of having the second-worst air quality on the continent, I also want to see our council promoting green energies such as solar panels to heat our public buildings and, eventually, our homes.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

Education and information is key for students, realtors, homeowners, wood sellers, insurance agents, etc. Bylaws could require that any house that is sold should require any and all wood burning stoves be wet-certified. All inefficient stoves would need to be upgraded. Open fireplaces should be taxed or boarded up. Insurance agents could charge extra for open fireplaces and credit homeowners with efficient stoves. Wood sellers could be certified, rather than anyone with a truck selling green wood. Air advisory could let people know when stoves should not be used.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

Probably the phase out of wood burning stoves could and should be considered

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

Last year the City granted monies to people that upgraded their wood stoves. I think that is a great start. We cannot just ban wood stoves overnight. Many people cannot afford to change and that would be a giant financial burden on many.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

I believe that much of our air quality challenges comes from outside Courtenay’s boundaries. We are taking steps of improvements through wood stove initiatives.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

Courtenay Council did address this issue in December, 2017, with a motion to offer residents an incentive to improve their wood stoves, due to their impact on the air quality in our City.  I support this initiative.

?What are your views about amalgamating Courtenay and Comox to take advantage of shared resources?

The last councillor elected received 2,488 votes in 2014, with 13 candidates on the ballot

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

Amalgamation is a great idea in theory, but the cost of incorporating under-serviced areas will be very expensive. Until the senior levels of government bring out their check book, it is simply unaffordable.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

I think the word “amalgamation” has been tainted over the years.  As Vice-chair of the Regional District and sitting on many boards I already see how we take advantage of shared resources such as water, hospital, sewer, solid waste and recycling.  As chair of the Water Committee I work regularly with other municipalities to ensure we are providing safe drinking water to over 45,000 people.  We have already initiated a utilities governance study to look at other options for how we provide core services to our communities.  I look forward to seeing what advantages result from the options.  I supported the ballot question for Courtenay voters to see if they would like us to continue to look at options even though all other local municipalities have refused to: Are you in favour of conducting a study, in partnership with the Province of BC, to review the governance structures and policies of the City of Courtenay and other local governments within the Comox Valley to consider the feasibility and implications of restructure?

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

Many pundits and fellow candidates that I consulted prior to announcing, warned me that the issue of amalgamation was an election losing issue. I disagreed. The make-up of the Comox Valley has changed dramatically since the last time this issue was brought forward, and was narrowly defeated in a referendum in the late 1990’s. Since that time, the problems of inefficient and compartmentalized thinking across municipal governments has festered and grown. Combined, we are a population of 66000 people, with our largest Municipality representing only 26000 of them. This weakens our ability to effectively plan infrastructure improvements, dilutes our voice at both the federal and provincial level in regards to grant funding, and increases the administrative costs for core services. Together, we can present a strong, united voice when discussing the larger issues facing our Valley instead of sitting miles apart having similar discussions about the same issues in separate rooms. Since I rolled out my platform, I am encouraged to see that even long-time Courtenay politicians, the very same ones that warned me to avoid the issue, have adopted amalgamation into their own platforms. Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery. The City of Courtenay needs forward thinking politicians that are not afraid to take point in discussing the big and divisive issues for fear of losing at the polls; I believe I can be that united voice for change.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

Courtenay council should work on a sector by sector basis to find efficiencies through collaboration with Comox wherever possible. As we see the results of each joint effort, we will gain a clearer idea of whether wholesale, across the board, amalgamation would be a benefit to each community. I believe that it is a discussion worth having, whether the final conclusion is amalgamation or not.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

I am all for it, let’s open a dialogue and start talking.

David Frisch

David Frisch

Courtenay and Comox could definitely benefit from sharing resources. In addition to transit, water and sewer services that we share now, I would like to see us share recreation and do more long term planning and visioning together, especially for roads and transportation. In particular, I imagine us being able to access all the valley’s recreation services with one membership. Amalgamation is a long term idea that takes partnership building among our governments to realize.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

There are many pros and cons so I would need to see the business case. The potential benefits might include:   • cost savings through merging senior staff complements;   • better co-ordinated planning and environmental stewardship;   • greater convenience for business in terms of regulations, permitting, etc;   • possible better negotiating position and grant eligibility vis senior governments as a larger entity.  The downside might include:   • Other municipal amalgamations have not produced the level of savings expected;   • The cost of studying and implementing an amalgamation would be significant, including the disruption inherent in such major re-organizations;   • Potential loss of local autonomy, community identity and municipal engagement present in smaller community;   • Comox taxes would automatically rise as residents and businesses would pay a larger share of policing costs, as Courtenay does now (Good news for Courtenay!).  Of course, the primary tension in the Comox Valley is our urban rural divide, with many fearing amalgamation would increase development pressures and further threaten the qualities that make this area so very special. Others feel that our challenges would be better met through a streamlined local governance structure. I note that Courtenay has the question of a governance review on the Oct 20th ballot, while our other communities do not, so it looks like the issue will remain marginal. Our alternative is to continue promoting mutual co-operation through the CVRD and our other tables, while finding ways to minimize duplication and share our civic amenities.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

I do not think we need to amalgamate Courtenay and Comox to become more efficient with shared resources.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

The question of amalgamation has been discussed for many years. A referendum was held in1999, an was turned down by the electorate. There have been subsequent discussions involving other communities in the valley. None have been successful. In 2018, an amalgamation referendum for Duncan and North Cowichan also failed. Amalgamations and governance reviews are not connecting with the taxpayer. Even without amalgamation, our communities can still work together on projects of common interest. We already collaborate on services such as water, sewer, transportation and recreation. In order to get the best value for our taxpayers, we need to investigate and identify other projects and services that we can collaborate on. As your Councillor, I will initiate discussions with our surrounding jurisdictions to increase our collaboration and sharing.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

It would save the taxpayers money and enable more efficient delivery of services. Amalgamating Courtenay and Comox would enable more efficient delivery of services, as well as  better planning around transportation improvements. There are however, reasons why this change will not be well supported by Comox residents. Courtenay pays much more for protective services (fire and police), due to the funding model for RCMP set out by the Provincial Government. Protective services is the second largest budgetary item for Courtenay costing the average household $707/year. Comox pays significantly less per household for their protective services, at $486/year. This discrepancy will be a deterrent for Comox residents to support amalgamation with Courtenay.  A referendum for amalgamation would have to pass by majority in both municipalities for the provincial government to implement the change. Additionally, Courtenay has significantly more municipal debt than Comox, another reason their community may not be in favor of making this change. That being said, I would like to see the question of amalgamation studied. Despite the inequity in RCMP costs, there may still be a business case to be made to the residents of both communities to support this. Additionally, I would advocate for the provincial government to examine the inequity in RCMP costs.  

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

When this question has come up over the years, there has been minimal appetite from Courtenay and Comox voters for amalgamation. I am open to exploring and possibly implementing ways to increase cost sharing in some areas. I would be in favour of a governance review if the public supports it.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

Amalgamation is a great idea, but I believe it will happen only if the provincial government mandates that change. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs apparently takes leadership in supporting local governments, but I can’t find anything about amalgamation on their website.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

We definitely should work toward the amalgamation of Courtenay, Comox, and area “B”. This has been my position since 1996 when I first got elected on council.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

I would agree with the amalgamation of Courtenay and Comox. We would still have to do some studies to get some answers to many questions and a referendum would have to be brought forward for the citizens to vote as well.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

Shared resources is worth exploring the benefits.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

I have said for years that a re-structure of governance in the Comox Valley is needed.  A variety of services should be brought together which would benefit the whole Comox Valley.  I am not an expert when it comes to environmental issues, however I have the greatest respect for the many professionals in our area, including Staff at our various municipalities and Regional District.  What I would like to see is our planning departments combined into one.  Our environment has no boundaries, therefore how can we effectively conserve and plan for out future working in isolation from one another.   Also,  funding applications to Senior levels of government are looked at much more favourably when we apply as one jurisdiction, as opposed to two or three.

?What do you think of Cumberland’s nation-leading social procurement policy that leverages community benefits from planned expenditures, and should other local governments follow suit?

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

The idea of reducing costs by purchasing in bulk has its merits. But with the smaller communities like Courtenay it becomes a question if the savings will be offset by additional administration costs and holding costs on pre-purchased material.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

I am fully in support of Social Procurement – which is being rebranded as Strategic Procurement to better emphasize its purpose.  I invited Sandra Hamilton to speak at our City Council to discuss the benefits of Social Procurement so that we could implement them into our procurement process.  For the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project it is one of the metrics used.  It is unfortunate that Courtenay was not a founding member, but as Mayor I will join the Vancouver Island Community Benefit Hub.

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

My background in procurement and project management for large scale energy and infrastructure projects puts me in the unique position of being able to comment on this issue having both submitted bids, and written tenders with social procurement elements incorporated into them. Social Procurement, in its most basic form, gives a weighting when assessing bid submission to social benefit and not strictly the lowest bid as the traditional tender process does. This allows us to look at the projects within the broader scope of net benefit, rather than simply focusing on the bottom dollar. Social procurement can be used to favor local contractors, encourage skills training, and other assorted social benefits that are not present during the traditional tendering process. Most importantly, incorporating social procurement into our local system has been shown to not markedly increase the cost of projects, and in fact the spin-off benefits ultimately result in better bang for our buck as we can deal with social and infrastructure issues simultaneously. We need to ensure that we establish clear guidelines for the application of social procurement, as like any policy it can get carried away if not managed correctly, but there is no financial reason not to fully support social procurement policies in the City of Courtenay.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

Cumberland’s social procurement policy works to ensure that money spent by local government on behalf of the community provides maximum benefit for the community. Sometimes it is through bidders proposing to work with local businesses or individuals to get the job done. Other times it is by bidders finding ways to incorporate community goals into their proposal (like the company bidding on road work on Dunsmuir Ave., which offered to provide free fill from their work to the skate park – meeting a community objective and saving the Village money). Not surprisingly other communities are following Cumberland’s lead. Courtenay would be wise to join Victoria, Nanaimo, Parksville, Tofino, Port Alberni, Powell River and Campbell River, Port McNeill and Port Hardy which are all working together to develop a regional network with common practices for social procurement. This network will create a single standard, making it easier for businesses to bid and sparing each community the time and expense of developing a policy from scratch.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

I think it’s the new way forward; all public expenditures should always benefit the community. The broadband network is a perfect example; Courtenay Airpark is another example, with a small tax exemption our community has access to a full service General Aviation Airport, benefiting not only Courtenay but Comox, Cumberland and the regional district. The Airpark complex also provides well paying jobs and is a major contribution to the cities economy.

David Frisch

David Frisch

Absolutely yes. Courtenay Council has an outstanding motion to create a social procurement policy and I think we need to do that!

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

I applaud Cumberland’s initiative and agree that Courtenay should follow suit. I believe many companies want their projects to have redeeming social value beyond the hard assets or services produced, and that municipal procurement can achieve community benefits without sacrificing other factors, including the bottom line.  The Cumberland initiative has helped spur development of a Vancouver Island Hub that will promote this concept across the Island. Other communities are embracing the concept and the VI Construction Development Association has engaged as a partner in the development of the Hub. While Courtenay has a related staff report and a social procurement policy under development, our municipality has not made the strides alongside Cumberland, and the explanation may be in the attached video of the May 30/16 Council meeting where social procurement advocate and respected business person Sandra Hamilton presented as a delegation to Council, a meeting I was regrettably unable to attend. 

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

I support Social Procurement.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

The Social Procurement framework at the village of Cumberland seems to be very successful. The program looks to obtain a social benefit whenever the village is tendering for services. This strategy appears to be gaining acceptance across the island and is being studied at the federal government level. The Association of Vancouver Island coastal communities (AVICC) endorsed this in 2017 and will take a leadership role in promoting the practice. I support this initiative for the City of Courtenay.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

Courtenay should follow Cumberland’s lead and develop their own social procurement policy. Cumberland has developed a their own approach to achieving greater public benefit from their municipal spending – particularly their capital projects – which has seen impressive added benefit from their planned capital expenditures. Funding has also been approved for a Community Development Hub that seeks to assist island communities to develop policies, training and expertise in this area. This is an innovative approach to public spending and I see no reason why Courtenay would not want to take advantage of these new resources to realize added benefit for planned municipal spending.

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

Of course I am very much in favour of this and would like to learn more about how we can incorporate it in Courtenay.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

I think social procurement is an excellent way to go, as there are benefits to the individual workers who make a living wage, families and the community.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

Would look at it more closely if on council.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

Cumberland’s procurement policy is one of the first on Vancouver Island and I think it is a great move forward. Much work was done to see this policy come to life. I think it would be prudent to investigate if this can happen in Courtenay.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

No response

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

I commend the Village of Cumberland for their social procurement policy, however I need to do more research on this issue before commenting.

?What parts of the Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy do you agree with or disagree with?

Harold Long -- Mayor

Harold Long -- Mayor

The only part I disagree with is the size and interpretation of the Report. I believe the intent is correct to make services, roads and transportation as efficient as possible. This is the main reason I see the 3 L development as a future problem. The land owned by the First Nations south of Royston (Sage Hills) would be a better direction for major development.

Bob Wells -- Mayor

Bob Wells -- Mayor

I agree with the Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy.  I’m proud that the per capita water use in the Comox Valley has gone down as well as the Solar Panel bulk purchase program partnership between the Regional District and Hakai Energy. I see these as proof that we can find opportunities and partnerships to move the dial to a more sustainable future. As Mayor I will continue to pursue innovative opportunities that are win-win.

Brennan Day

Brennan Day

The Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy as a guiding document sets lofty goals across a range of sustainability issues, some of which are within the control of our municipal government, and some of which require provincial and federal guidance and funding to achieve. Many of the points in this strategy run counter to not only the Valley’s growth requirements going forward, but also to other issues contained within the same document. The challenge with the implementation of this strategy then, is to navigate the multitude of goals that are outlined in this policy, and be prepared to negotiate with the various stakeholders when growth and infrastructure requirements run at odds to this strategy. As it is outlined in the Sustainable Growth strategy, integration is a key element of making these goals achievable. Building inroads towards amalgamation and furthering cooperation between jurisdictions is the biggest challenge facing this initiative. We can work towards a more sustainable future if we work together.

Will Cole-Hamilton

Will Cole-Hamilton

I am a supporter of the Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy (CVSS). The CVSS is a comprehensive strategy which covers all municipal government (Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland and the Regional District) as well as major institutions (like the school district, North Island College, CFB Comox, etc.). It was custom made to fit the needs, challenges and resources of the Comox Valley and contains over 500 specific phased, targeted recommendations covering the time period from 2010-2050. I would promote the implementation of 1.1.3 c which favours infill and redevelopment within the existing city footprint. My reasons for favouring this are set out in answer 1. I also favour implementation of 7.1.2.c, which advocates innovative housing for the homeless. The BC government has announced significant investment in housing including $1.9 billion in the next 10 years for supportive housing. We should ensure that we are well placed to take advantage of this funding. While there are 46 beds of supportive housing set to be built, there is a clear need for more, particularly for women leaving abusive relationships. Earlier this year I met with Amber Zirnhelt, Manager of Community Planning and Development in Campbell River who told me that she has had great success working with urban planning graduate students from VIU in researching and developing new programs. I would like to bring that same, highly cost-effective, approach to Courtenay. We could engage a student to review our needs, land resources and BC Housing’s funding options to identify the best options for funding new supportive housing in Courtenay. Once those options are identified Council should work actively with BC Housing to advance the proposal and to fast-track zoning applications. Rather than trying to go through the rest of this detailed document point by point, I would simply say that Courtenay Council should, as a matter of standard practice, refer back to the CVSS whenever decisions are made. If possible, Council should work to implement the relevant CVSS recommendation, and if it is not possible to do that, Council should seek to incorporate elements of the CVSS recommendation into its decision. The CVSS is a detailed and costly (roughly $250,000) plan which was created at the request of all four governments of the Comox Valley. I think that we owe it to taxpayers to make effective use of this valuable document.

Darwin Dzuba

Darwin Dzuba

Sustainability Strategy?… I see no evidence of a STRATEGY do you?

David Frisch

David Frisch

I see the CV Sustainability Strategy as a guiding document that reflects values and ideas that should influence our decisions. In particular, I agree with the strategies to encouraging a wide range of housing, conserve our natural ecosystems, investing in active transportation, creating strong cultural connections among citizens, and promote economic development that benefits and strengthens our community.

Doug Hillian

Doug Hillian

The Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy, adopted in 2010 in conjunction with the Regional Growth Strategy, provides an aspirational vision for regional sustainability and outlines targets for the year 2050 related to climate, energy, water, ecosystems, food, economy, and society. It also identifies strategies for reaching targets in the domains of Housing & Land Use, Buildings & Site Development, Infrastructure Services, Transportation, Ecosystems, Natural Areas & Parks, Food System, Social & Community Well-being and Local Economic Development.  I am in general agreement with the document but there are over 60 specific targets identified, some of which we are challenged to meet. Unlike the Regional Growth Strategy, which is “a mandated regulatory document”, the Sustainability Strategy is a guide. It will take some work to consider how our ongoing policies and practices are measuring up to the Strategy, and I would be in favour of us doing exactly that. While I believe the City’s efforts in promoting environmental sustainability have been significant, we can certainly do more.

Kiyoshi Kosky

Kiyoshi Kosky

I support the whole document.

Penny Marlow

Penny Marlow

The Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy was developed in 2010 through Community collaboration and was meant to be a cross jurisdictional initiative. The CVRD has moved forward with select recommendations over these past 8 years. We have not seen real collaborative actions involving the other 3 government participants (Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland) in the report. The report is strategic. It does not provide sufficient specifics for implementation, but is subject to interpretations. I support the principles in the document. We must continue to move forward with these concepts. If elected, I will promote the establishment of an empowered inter-jurisdictional committee, including the pubic and interest groups, that will define annual actions and see them through to implementation.

Melanie McCollum

Melanie McCollum

I agree with the Sustainability Strategy and want to prioritize some areas over others, such as higher density growth, a multimodal transportation network, and improved walkability in neighbourhoods. There are no parts of the Sustainability Strategy that I disagree with or take issue with. There are certain areas of the strategy that are of higher importance to me as a candidate, as they relate very closely with the priorities that I’ve outlined in my platform. The sustainability strategy outlines actions local government can to take to encourage higher density growth, develop a multimodal transportation network and improve the walkability of neighbourhoods. The goal of achieving improvement in both of these areas is what motivated me to put my name forward as a candidate for council. Many municipalities in BC, including Vernon, Campbell River and Kimberly, employ a Sustainability and Long Ranger Planner, a position tasked with implementing goals outlined in  this strategy. For Campbell River, this position has been able to secure $2 million in grants to implement sustainability projects in their community. This had me wondering if Courtenay isn’t missing opportunities by not having a similar position on staff tasked with grant proposals for sustainability projects.

Wendy Morin

Wendy Morin

I admire the work and commitment involved in creating this document. I agree with the multitude of ideas within it that benefit our community environmentally, socially, and economically.  As a lifelong Comox Valley resident, I have a special connection to our natural environment, especially to our waterways. The estuary’s ecosystem is recognized for its significant biodiversity. I appreciate the commitment in the sustainability strategy to protect 100% of this area. I fully support the Kus kus sum project that will take this protection further by restoring this area to its natural state. Another area of the strategy I would like to see enhanced is food security. I propose expansion of community gardens and density housing developments incorporating food gardens in to the plans.  There are many housing recommendations in the sustainability strategy that I support such as the encouragement of secondary suites, more live/work spaces, truly affordable housing, and walkable transit-oriented neighbourhoods.  Focusing development in existing settlement nodes and avoiding urban sprawl is vitally important to sustainable practices. I am excited about the direction we have been going in to incorporate ecological infrastructure and urban forest strategies as this will mitigate the impacts of climate change and contribute positively to sustainability.

Judi Murakami

Judi Murakami

147 pages is much too long. The 8 community topics of: Housing & Land Use; Buildings & Site Development; Infrastructure Services; Transportation; Ecosystems, Natural Areas & Parks; Food System; Social & Community Well-being; Local Economic Development; are fine as they are under the purview of municipal government, but the 8 global targets of climate, energy, water, ecosystems, waste, food economy and society with dates leading up to 2050 make this an incredibly complex document.   If the sustainability strategy were to focus on the 8 community topics, with target dates of 2022, (4 year term) it would be easier to plan measurable strategies and determine successes. Let’s Keep it Simple.

Murray Presely

Murray Presely

How could I disagree with the Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy with two grandchildren growing up in the Valley. We all hopefully realize that we need to be better stewards of the Valley we pass onto latter generations. We should however, were possible, ensure that any enactment of the Sustainability Strategy that has significant negative impacts are phased in or be subject to further review.

Deana Simpkin

Deana Simpkin

Sustainability Strategies are all written with the best intentions at the time of their publications. These strategies cannot stay stagnant from the date written, they are working documents, they must be updated and amended as the community grows.

Mano Theos

Mano Theos

Having a long term plan is valuable and a blueprint of how we move forward is responsible. For this document to be useful there must be flexibility and the willingness to adapt.

Starr Winchester

Starr Winchester

I attended the Comox Valley Sustainability Forum2 on September 19th.  I found the event interesting and very informative.  I’m anxious to learn more and will then provide an informed answer.