- Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
In my experience community organizing with One Cowichan and now working at Social Planning Cowichan I have had countless conversations with people across the region on issues around water, housing, renewable energy, local food and democracy. Through this work, I have been bringing people together to facilitate respectful discussions that allow for collaboration, new ideas and interactive decision making. I believe this experience has prepared me to be a good councilor.
I do fact-based research to understand an issue, ask questions and listen to different points of view with an open mind before making decisions and planning.
- Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?
YES. It is up to local governments to provide clean drinking water for residents. However, how can they do that without also ensuring we will have water, all year round, to provide that service? Some rivers, tributaries and wells have already been running dry in the summer months. It would help to have a fund that supports protecting and preserving this resource that also supports other organizations who have been doing good work in our watersheds for decades. Since there are no real municipal boundaries with our watersheds, I believe a regional service is the right call.
- Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw?
YES. The Cowichan Region is not the only area experiencing a housing crisis. Federal and provincial funds are available for affordable housing projects, but we need to stand out by bringing some investment to the table as seed funding. This is only one piece of the housing puzzle. The Cowichan Housing Association, with community input is working on an overall Attainable Housing Strategy to identify priority needs for each area of the region. With this strategy and some funding, they will be able to move more quickly. Ultimately, it’s up to voters to decide if they are willing to invest in our communities.
- How do you plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as provincial and federal governments?
Throughout my work at One Cowichan and Social Planning Cowichan, I have worked hard to develop relationships with local First Nations and other levels of government. Part of that is showing up to each other’s events, communicating on a regular basis, sharing information and invitations on what is happening in the community in the pre-planning stages and collaborating on projects and ideas together where possible. As a councillor, I will continue to do this especially when there is the potential for overlap within the municipality.
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?
North Cowichan is in the process of updating the Climate Action and Energy Plan. Once complete, I will fully support the recommendations and work to move forward on an implementation plan. I look forward to working with the community, staff and council to see how we can integrate more water storage and conservation within broader public and with the municipality. Transportation is a challenging issue with our rural areas so I am interested in digging into creative ways to address transit. I would also like to promote growing more local food on both a large and small scale.
- How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?
North Cowichan has so much potential to move forward with housing that is attainable for those who really need it. My goal is to make sure we do this not only with the community in mind, but also while preserving our ecosystems and green space. I keep hearing how important shared community spaces, walkability to work and services, forest preservation, water collection & conservation and energy efficiencies for keeping costs low are for affordability and the environment. This means avoiding urban sprawl, prioritizing brownsite development and expanding and promoting secondary suites, carriage & tiny homes on existing properties.
- 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?
Water, housing, the opioid crisis are all important issues in all of our communities, not just North Cowichan. I also believe community engagement and accountability can improve. My goal on council will be to focus on working with the community, businesses, community groups and organizations and the rest of council to ensure all sides of an issue are explored and decisions are made with all voices in mind. We need to ask questions, listen with understanding and keep an open mind when gathering information before making decisions and planning. It’s time to bridge the divide and move forward.
- 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’ve spent a lot of time going door to door on issues around the region. When it comes to making decisions in smaller areas of our communities, I think that is a great way to connect with people where they are at. Tabling at other community events is an option. Community forums are useful if facilitated to engage attendees in dialogue rather than simply presenting information. I’m not sure how effective PlaceSpeak is for constructive discussion but I wouldn’t rule it out for those who only want to participate online. And I am absolutely open to exploring other ideas.