Christopher A. Shaw

Christopher A. Shaw – Candidate for North Cowichan Council

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

I decided to run due to my concerns about the lack of bottom up democracy in North Cowichan. This is typified by how the OCP was ratified (see below). 

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?

I tend to worry when any group says something like "the science is clear" for any scientific issue.  The impact of human activity on the planet may well contribute to the climate issue, however, it is simplistic to assume that all of it is of human origin. Controlling local gas/diesel use may not noticeably impact the much larger impact of the thousands of cars/trucks from elsewhere. If the goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, we are simply going to have to work with other levels of government to restore the rail line that runs through the valley.

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?

License Uber or local alternatives, have rapid rail on the North-South corridor running through the valley, establish a user bike plan for the valley for those trying to connect to that N-S line, give tax credits for car-pooling

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?

Yes, there are many key "crises." The solution lies in more bottom-up democracy and local solutions to local problems. 

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?

An obvious one would be to prevent any large-scale development and heavy industrial activity close to riparian areas, curtail nitrogen-based fertilizer in the same areas, and empower local councils to come up with more local solutions to pollution and flooding.

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 think this is an overly simplistic approach, fine in Hollywood movies, but less so in the real world. As always, if those groups want all fossil fuel emissions out of the built environment, they need to come up with local solutions. These are the sorts of things that Council could provide through mediation and consultation.

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 needed?

I don't support the OCP as it currently exists, largely for the reason that it was not democratically derived. Having the input of approx. 1000 people in a voting population of 22,000 is not democratic. This is a clear item that needed to go out to referendum. (Fact check:

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?

Housing and homelessness, high taxes, and democratic decision making.

Housing: license private property for laneway homes, carriage houses, RV and small homes. Homelessness links to the overall fiscal crises and transportation. Poorer people can't get to jobs if they have no realistic way to get to those jobs. 

Taxes: Shift some of the tax burden from property owners to a use pay model for other services. Consider a freeze on property taxes for the term of Council to enable businesses and homeowners to begin the process of recovering from the pandemic.

Democratic decision making (see above OCP).

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?

-Through respectful, but forceful advocacy for all of the people of North Cowichan.

Thanks for the questions.

*Note: Data from MNC shows at least 1,200 people and organizations participated in the development of the 2022 OCP - 4 times higher than the approximately 270 for the 2011 OCP.  North Cowichan received more than 300 written responses from individuals and organizations for the 2022 OCP versus 135 for the 2011 OCP. Written responses for the 2022 OCP totaled more than 500 pages versus 100 pages for OCP 2011.