Candidate for North Cowichan councillor: Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas (incumbent)

Website: http://www.robdouglas.ca

Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/robdouglas.for.northcowichan/

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

I was born and raised in North Cowichan and have live her my whole life. This is a great place to grow up and to raise a family. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. However, we face real challenges from a lack of affordable housing, climate change and continuous increases in our cost of living. I hope to continue serving on Council so that we can work together to address these major issues facing our community and to build a better future for everyone.

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

Yes. I have concerns about adding to the tax burden on residential property owners. However, in this case I will be supporting the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw, despite reservations. With significant growth anticipated in the Municipality of North Cowichan and the Cowichan region over the coming years and decades, local government needs a better understanding of the carrying capacity of our watersheds and aquifers, especially in making important land use decisions regarding future development. That being said, I would like to see the CVRD Board monitor this function closely on an annual basis to ensure citizens are getting fair value for tax dollars.

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

The Cowichan Housing Association has done excellent work in recent years – including programs to help prevent homelessness, and research on housing in the region. The CVRD should support this work.

However, I do have concerns with the $500,000 Housing Trust Fund, and would prefer to see these funds under the control of the CVRD Board.

I would also prefer to see the CVRD take North Cowichan’s approach. We are working with the Community Land Trust Foundation to build co-op housing on municipal land. This is at no cost to the taxpayers, and allows us to show “skin in the game” when applying for federal/provincial funding.

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

I have a great relationship with Chief Seymour and Cowichan Tribes Councillors. We worked together to develop a regional forestry strategy with the CVRD that I hope can move ahead during the next term. I also know MP Alistair MacGregor and MLAs Doug Routley and Sonia Furstenau extremely well, and hope to continue working with all three to get our fair share of funding from senior levels of government – including securing federal and provincial grants for affordable housing, raising the weir, building a new high school, and other major infrastructure projects.

  • 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?  

Local government is best positioned to mitigate and adapt to climate change though land use planning and investments in infrastructure, which can reduce our dependence on automobiles and cut GHGs. My priorities would be to:

 

  • Build compact communities by encouraging infill development and directing future growth to commercial cores of municipality while preventing suburban sprawl into rural and environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Continue investments in pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure including bike lanes, multi-use paths and walkways.
  • Update North Cowichan’s award-winning Climate Action & Energy Plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the municipality by 80% by 2050
  • How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?

 

  • Prevent suburban sprawl into rural and environmentally sensitive areas by encouraging infill development and directing future growth to commercial core areas of the municipality.
  • Introduce policies that protect greenspace and rural values, including conservation subdivision design, site adaptive planning and protection of scenic corridors.
  • Update the Official Community Plan, Zoning Bylaw and Subdivision Bylaw to include stronger focus on protecting rural areas from suburban sprawl.
  • Defend the Agricultural Land Reserve and protect agricultural lands from inappropriate development.

 

  • 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?
  • #1 Affordable housing
  • Continue to utilize municipal land for affordable housing projects, as the Municipality of North Cowichan is currently doing to build 100+ co-op and non-profit housing units with the Community Land Trust Foundation of BC.
  • #2 Environmental protection
  • Prevent suburban sprawl into rural and environmentally sensitive areas by encouraging infill development and directing future growth to commercial core areas of the municipality.
  • #3 Fiscal responsibility
  • Aggressively lobby senior levels of government for our fair share of grant funding for affordable housing and major infrastructure projects.

    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 would empower citizens and neighbourhoods in the decision-making process through the following policies:
  • Adopt a new land use procedures bylaw to improve public consultation for development applications.
  • Ensure all neighbourhood associations are assigned a Council member as a liaison.
  • Require public information meetings for significant developments before they are brought to Council for consideration or bylaw adoption.
  • Provide notification and referral for development applications to neighbourhooad associations and community organizations.
  • Involve neighbourhood associations in annual town hall meetings to set budget priorities.