Bob Brooke – Candidate for Re-election, Duncan Council
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I am running for re-election in the upcoming Duncan Civic Election. I am a father of 3 and a grandfather of 4. Retired from a career in Real Estate, I saw a disparity in housing availability and affordability throughout our province and decided to try and make a difference. I am a proponent of the ‘housing first’ mindset for social solutions, and work as a director of the Cowichan Housing Association.
The climate science is clear - we need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 45% from 2005 levels by 2030 to address the devastating climate impacts (heat waves, fires, floods, droughts) we face. What priority actions to reduce GHG emissions locally will you advocate to get local government on course to meet that 45% reduction by 2030, less than 7 ½ years from now?
Man’s effect on his environment is quite clear, and modifications of behaviour will influence climate. I believe that we must bring about change by example. Showing the world a different way of doing things will I hope bring a global recognition to this issue and begin the process of reducing GHG’s. I support all local initiatives in search of this goal.
Transportation, mostly in private cars and trucks, is reported to be responsible for 72% of GHG emissions in the Cowichan Valley. What three strategies to reduce emissions from transportation, while also supporting local people getting where they need to go, would you work to implement?
Reducing transportation emissions is difficult in our community because of its large area. Reliance on personal transportation has yet to be superseded by public transportation. Because of that, I fully support the use and electrification of the auto industry. Ride sharing is both beneficial and cost effective.
We're not only in a climate crisis, we're in multiple overlapping crises, including affordable housing, homelessness, and the opioid overdose crises. If elected to local government, what interconnected solutions would you advocate to address these social and environmental crises in the Cowichan Valley?
The multiple social issues plaguing our communities (affordability, availability, mental health, street drugs) have for too long been ignored until we have reached what we see now. I believe that providing housing for homeless people is the first step in the path to recovery from the complex social issues so many we see suffer from. The Trunk Road shelter site (Duncan) has shown us a model that has exhibited success with its, shelter, food and wrap around services model. This is being emulated now in other cities with similar success.
The Cowichan Valley is experiencing increasing climate-related cycles of drought and flooding in our watersheds, as well as other damage to natural ecosystems and farmland caused by development pressures. These trends threaten our salmon and our food security. What actions must local government take to better protect our watersheds and drinking water, as well as increase local food production and food security? What protections should local government put in place?
Encouraging our citizens to shop locally through the Saturday farm market has not only provided out growers a marketplace it has shown the availability of locally grown product to compete with out of area products. We must continue to limit growth in the Cowichan River corridor.
Emissions from buildings are second only to transportation emissions here in the Cowichan Valley. Local groups working together on climate change solutions have asked all five of our local governments to commit to getting fossil fuel emissions - gas and oil - out of our built environment. Do you support this move, and what next steps would you advocate local government take to achieve this?
I do support the reduction of Petro carbon use in our homes and buildings, and believe that the use of heat pump technology is a good substitute for oil and gas for heating. I also support the use of social energy for much of our energy needs.
Most of our local governments have either, like North Cowichan, recently approved a new Official Community Plan (OCP) or are in the process of updating or harmonizing their OCP (CVRD) with stronger social and environmental directions for our Cowichan communities. How would you support the OCP approved for your community in moving forward, including implementing the bylaws?
I was the chairperson of Duncan’s latest OCP and was keenly aware of the desire of locals to step firmly into the 21st century. We must all recognise that change is inevitable, and so sculpting that change to encompass the needs of the coming years will be of benefit to all.
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?
The most pressing issues facing local government are social in nature. (Homelessness, drug addiction and Street crime) Solutions to these issues are only available through the participation of higher levels of government. I have in my term as an elected official continually put these issues in the face of our provincial counterparts and we see slowly understanding, and funding coming to the local levels. The province is now looking at the issue of prolific offenders, which we have also asked them to do.
How do you plan to work with other governments within our region, including working with Local First Nations, as well as the provincial and federal governments?
In my term on Duncan City Council, we have worked closely with our neighbouring jurisdictions as so many of the issues overlap boundaries. We have worked to ensure that the Highway corridor has had a seamless approach to addressing its problems. We have worked with the local Band to provide water and sewer to several of their projects.