Ross Forrest (incumbent)
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/rossforrestformayor/
- Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I have had the privilege of being the Mayor of Lake Cowichan for the past 10 years. My wife Tracy and I raised our two children in our hometown of Lake Cowichan, and now we are blessed to watch our grandchildren grow up in the same community. Our Town has grown into a more prosperous and vibrant community over recent years and we’ve made significant infrastructure improvements. However there is much more to be completed and I feel my leadership skills and ability to maintain a cohesive council and staff will ensure the continuation of the progress we require.
- Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?
YES. Nothing is more important to our well-being than clean, healthy water and the supply required to service all of our needs. We have had far more droughts in recent years than in the past. A tremendous amount of resources have been exhausted to learn how to protect our region from the alarming consequences associated with loss of supply. It will take money and resources to combat all of our water concerns; to continue to rely on different funding grants for our Watershed is not sustainable.
- Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw?
YES. It alarms me to see the increase in homelessness; many of our communities are effected by a shortage of affordable housing. Our individual communities throughout the entire Cowichan Valley do not have the capacity to tackle affordable housing and homelessness prevention alone. With the potential funding contributed with this bylaw there are significantly more opportunities to leverage the resources that will be necessary to eliminate these situations.
- How do you plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as provincial and federal governments?
I plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as Provincial and Federal Governments by representing my community respectfully. Regardless of personal opinions, gender, partisanship, or differences, everyone deserves the same representation from elected officials.
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?
Regarding impacts on our water resources, I think a new Weir to ensure sufficient water supply is the most important change required. Additional droughts related to climate change can potentially cause severe impacts that will be difficult to recover from. The protection of the Heritage Cowichan River is an absolute must that effects so many people of the Cowichan Valley.
- How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?
Managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region requires the engagement of all citizens. We have some awesome Stewardship groups throughout the valley who are doing great things to ensure development is being done properly, but the participation of everyone is essential to ensure this growth is sustainable.
- 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?
I feel the most pressing issue facing local governments is how to manage the ever increasing services being downloaded onto them. Roughly 8% of the tax pie is collected by local government but the expectations are for them to resource many more services than what was previously required.
- 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?
My approach has always been to be accountable to all constituents. I make it a priority to answer all letters, emails, phone calls and meet with whom ever asks. However we must do more. The numbers of constituents who attend meetings and hearings are low. Public engagement is vital therefore elected officials must identify alternative methods that will be most suitable to inform their constituents. I am certainly open to hearing what those desired methods might be.