Candidate for North Cowichan Councillor: Paul Fletcher

Paul Fletcher

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  • Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?

I'm a 65-year-old self-employed photographer and photography teacher at Brentwood College School for the last 18 years. I've lived in the Cowichan Valley for 32 years. I'm founder and President of Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, served on the board of Cowichan Wheels for 8 years and was a Duncan city councillor from 2005-2011. I enjoy documenting social and environmental issues in third world countries. I love the Cowichan Valley and I have the skills and experience needed to work collaboratively and collectively with others. My lengthy community service, on both sides of the council table, provides me with enough knowledge and maturity to contribute to a positive future for North Cowichan.

  • Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?  

Yes. I cautiously support the CVRD’s referendum on the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw. I am concerned about the operational costs and administration of the money but hoping that the new CVRD board can mandate most of the funds into the hands of the groups already doing the on-the-ground work.

  • Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw? 

I believe action on housing is urgently needed but I have not learned enough about the 2 sides of the referendum to choose my position yet.

  • How do you plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as provincial and federal governments?

I would encourage council to lobby for a North Cowichan leadership role in encouraging the CVRD to lead a comprehensive Regional Growth Study with the goal of striking a balance between development and protection of the environment in the Cowichan region. The Study could include an economic development alliance with our neighbours to work strategically together to seek funding opportunities to encourage sustainable new businesses to establish themselves here. I would also like to see Cowichan become a ‘Centre for Education Excellence’ where cultures and communities mix to educate and be educated amongst many of the natural assets we have to offer throughout the Cowichan region.

  • 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 a councillor, I would like to see alternative energy options presented in staff reports including reports to council that offer energy alternative comparisons and ecosystem service values, when seeking recommendations. Being that transportation is a key player in emissions, I would encourage ways to lessen the stop and go traffic on the Island Highway corridor through Duncan. I would support the return of the train if the cost analysis favoured it’s return. As an alternative to rail, I would support a trail to Victoria on the road bed and keeping the corridor complete in case of future transportation needs.  

  • How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?

I would support a partnership amongst neighbours to encourage the CVRD to lead a comprehensive Regional Growth Study with the goal of striking a balance between development and protection of the environment.

  • 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?

Homelessness and lack of affordable housing including social issues around drug use--Council needs to expedite all possible avenues to ease the housing crisis  including exploring various levels of housing, ie transitional and treatment.

The need for a Regional Growth Study--Council needs to lobby at the CVRD table for a regional growth study

Water quality in Quamichan and Somenos Lakes--Council needs to take a more aggressive stance towards all runoff, urban stormwater and agriculture, to reduce the phosphorous entering the lakes

  • 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?
  • Changing council meeting times to a more convenient time for working folk.
  • Open a downtown Duncan office to provide accessibility for North Cowichan residents living in the urban core.
  • Create a Citizens Advisory Committee to advise on potentially divisive Issues.
  • Hold important public hearings in a larger space closer to the urban area affected