Alison Nicholson (incumbent)
Social Media: www.facebook.com/Alison Nicholson Area
- Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I am an ecologist, farmer, grandmother, and Area E director (2014-2018) who loves the Cowichan Valley and our communities. I believe that a community working together is the most powerful force there is for positive change. Helping transform Cowichan Station’s beloved former school into the “HUB”, I have seen what can be accomplished and overcome when people have a voice and involvement in building a liveable, sustainable community. I am running to work with you to plan well and shape our community for the future.
- Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?
YES. We need to manage our precious water and watersheds differently if we are to adapt to the intensifying droughts and storm events coming our way. Local stewardship groups have been leading the way and it is past time for the CVRD to help out. The bylaw will enable the CVRD to help fill critical knowledge gaps about the state of our water/watersheds and how to improve land use practices to protect water quality and water supply.
- Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw?
YES. I want our children to be able to afford to stay in the valley. I want people living on low incomes to have secure, safe housing so they are more able to find and keep jobs, pursue education and maintain their health. The proposed service is intended to provide seed funding to get housing projects off the ground. It will show the community is committed to tackling the housing crisis and with Cowichan Housing Association brokering partnerships and working outside the constraints of local government we are much more likely to see things get done.
- How do you plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as provincial and federal governments?
Working across jurisdictions requires building respectful, meaningful relationships. This isn’t something that happens quickly. The work requires:
- listening and learning about the community – e.g., I attended a Hul'q'umi'num' language program which was a wonderful introduction to the culture of the Cowichan people.
- being accessible – e.g., outreach and attending events/workshops to meet the players.
- connecting and communicating– e.g., I regularly visit with Ministry of Transportation road manager about issues and Sonia Furstenau and Alistair MacGregor are always important resources.
- Identifying common interests to pursue – The new Cowichan 2050 framework will help nurture cross-jurisdictional discussions and planning.
- One Cowichan supporters have expressed concerns about climate change, especially local impacts on our water resources. What local climate change mitigation and/or adaptation strategies would you support if elected?
Mitigation requires planning to stop urban sprawl, improving options for getting around on foot by bicycle, and on transit, and adopting progressive green building requirements. Adaptation requires focusing on ecosystem protection and shifting to land-use practices that maintain the ecological services ecosystems provide in terms of water storage, filtration, heat amelioration, pollination etc. It's also important to update our infrastructure to cope with increasing volumes of stormwater, plan for more compact communities where we can effectively deliver services like fire protection and provide information and support for the community so they can prepare for emergencies. I support raising the weir at Cowichan Lake.
- How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?
This is a time of great change and we need to draw on the wisdom and ideas of local people to shape our future. We need expanded teams of committed, involved citizens bringing expertise to tackle the various complex issues. Growth needs to be tied to carrying capacity which I expect will be largely related to water supply/storage capabilities. Better baseline ecological information for the land tied to good mapping is needed. Then working regionally, across jurisdictions and with the province, to understand opportunities, fix past mistakes and change policies and practices, will help manage growth sustainably.
- What do you consider the three most pressing issues facing local government and the one most important thing local government should do on each one?
- Shifting the government culture from one of “being in charge” to one of community partnership and collaboration. To do: If there is a new water service, develop a plan collaboratively with the watershed stewardship groups for moving forward.
- Most of our watersheds are privately owned and ecosystem protection on private lands is challenging due to the inadequacy of current regulations and enforcement capabilities. To do: Advocate to the province for changes to forest management practices and support for sustainable watershed management.
- Population growth and concomitant pressure on lands, existing infrastructure, resources etc. To do: Regional thinking and cross jurisdictional planning with better information.
- Our citizen surveys indicate a desire for more consultation and accountability between elected officials and their constituents. If elected, what would your approach be to those issues?
I will continue to advocate for more opportunities for constituent input and meaningful consultation processes. On contentious land use issues, I will continue to canvas neighbourhoods when needed to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Accountability is about saying what you will do and then reporting back on what you did. On my website I provide my track record and my commitments moving forward. The few dedicated citizens who take the time to follow our deliberations and ask questions of the Board provide an invaluable accountability service – particularly in the absence of media coverage.