Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/LynneSmithforAreaGDirector/
- Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I am a retiree with an accounting and business background and Chair of the Saltair Water Advisory Committee. I have been a resident and taxpayer in Saltair for 27 years. I decided to run because small groups persuaded someone who did not live in Area G to run. Most residents want Area G represented by a resident and taxpayer. Expectations and knowledge about issues, opinions, taxation and services need to be based on experience within the electoral area. A director must know what the community thinks. This knowledge is acquired by living in, paying taxes in and serving Area G.
- Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?
No. While I enthusiastically support the need for drinking water and watershed protection, I cannot support this bylaw. This is a region-wide service proposal. It can redistribute money from one area to another without providing a new service in all the areas. I will vote against this bylaw because it would raise property taxes on Thetis Island while the Island Trust, not the CVRD, is responsible for drinking water and watershed protection there. Apparently, Thetis Island would receive no direct or indirect benefit or service under the bylaw. Fiscal equivalence is a key principle underlying regional districts.
- Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw?
I am undecided about supporting the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw. While I recognize a province-wide need for affordable housing, I also know many homeowners in Area G are hanging on by their teeth. I wonder if it makes sense to ask these homeowners to pay more tax to help those earning no more than they earn living somewhere else. I also wonder if it makes sense to raise money for affordable housing through taxation instead of development fees. I look forward to seeing the analysis and participating in the debate, which will no doubt be ongoing even if the bylaw is approved.
- How do you plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as provincial and federal governments?
Cooperatively. Thankfully, my 27 years of community involvement has allowed me to connect and work with a multitude of groups and levels of government. I have formed good relationships with MLAs, directors and staff that allow me to know where to go for information, advice and help. I look forward to working with the people I know and facilitating and establishing effective partnerships with more community groups, local First Nations, industries and different levels of government.
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?
As Chair of the Saltair Water Advisory Committee, my involvement with water issues has been extensive. I have attended many meetings, workshops and conferences concerning climate change and water stewardship. There is much work to be done and a multitude of strategies to pursue. However, the most important is organization. We need to establish partnerships with local First Nations, industries and water group within each major CVRD watershed. The Cowichan Watershed Board/Cowichan Watershed Society serves as a model that should be replicated in Bonsall Creek, Ladysmith and Area, North Cowichan and Yellowpoint-Cedar.
- How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?
Area G’s role and approach to managing growth sustainability is described in two official community plans. There is one for Saltair and one for Thetis Island. Each is under different governance. Thetis Island’s plan is promulgated by the Island Trust. Saltair’s plan is promulgated by the CVRD. These plans need to be discussed, updated and followed. There needs to be more public consultation and a consensus around these community plans in Saltair and on Thetis Island.
- 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?
Government transparency, taxation and spending. Thetis Island has received fewer grant dollars than it should. Saltair and Thetis Island are facing potential tax increases because of the referendum questions. Saltair is also facing potential increases for sub-regional recreation, garbage and recycling and fire protection. In addition, Saltair taxpayers need to fund their share of $6M for a new water filtration system and, over 10 or more years, up to $3M for maintaining and updating the old school building. Electors need information and a real opportunity to provide input. These things will happen in Area G if I am elected.
- 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 want to achieve the highest possible standard of community engagement and provide representation that is responsive to the wishes of the electorate. My cornerstones are community endorsed taxation, prudent spending, responsible budgets and open communication. I will hold regular community meetings in Saltair and on Thetis Island. I will use these meetings and all the communication tools at my disposal to ensure residents know the facts and I know what they want. I am committed to moving forward with consensus.