- Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
My name is Debra Toporowski ~Qwulti’stunaat. I was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, with a First Nation and Chinese Heritage. I wish to work towards finding the right balance of economic, environmental and social issues that we all care about. There are many critical issues, for example water, affordable housing and many other issues which are important to you and your family. I have experience working as a Community Assistant for 12 years for 2 MLA’s. I am a third term elected Cowichan Tribes Councillor. I am a caring person who knows how to listen.
- Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?
YES. I am passionate about fighting for the protection of our local water. We have had several near crisis situations affecting the Cowichan River and our communities need to develop solutions to preserve water in times of plenty. Cowichan Tribes has also had serious concerns about the worsening impacts to traditional fisheries and to salmon stocks. I will be voting yes for the referendum because; we need to seize this rare opportunity to make sure we have enough water for the future, for fish, our environment, and for our communities.
- Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw?
YES. I support this because the best solution for homelessness is to find a shelter solution; without solutions we will continue to see tent cities in our community parks or other community spaces. Progressive communities throughout the world have proven that providing affordable house solutions is the first step to help in dealing with the homeless situation. When people have the dignity of shelter this could lead to other life changing benefits.
- 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 lot of experience working collaboratively with Provincial, Federal and Local First Nation governments. As part of my BC MLA Constituency work (12 years), I worked with my federal counterparts and became familiar with many community issues involving federal government concerns and I worked collaboratively with our local federal MP’s office, as well as our Provincial government office and Cowichan Tribes elected representatives. As a Community advocate and First Nations Councillor, I am passionate on working on continuing to build bridges and to find fair solutions for all our communities.
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?
I am passionate about dealing with climate change impacts to our heritage Cowichan River. In order to mitigate and adapt to climate change we must find ways to store water. We need to work with community water boards, provincial, federal governments and Cowichan tribes to find solutions and collaboratively take action. We have had several near crisis situations on the Cowichan River and the community needs to develop solutions to preserve water in times of plenty. Cowichan Tribes has also had serious concerns about the impacts we are now seeing to our traditional fisheries and to clean water use.
- How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?
I believe we need to work collaboratively with other councilors and the Municipality staff to come up with solutions to the multitude of issues that confront our community.
- 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 three most pressing issues are Water, affordable housing, and social issues. We need to work with community, provincial, federal governments and Cowichan Tribes to find solutions and collaboratively take action. As a community advocate and Cowichan Tribes Councillor, I am passionate on working on continuing to build bridges and to find fair solutions for all our communities.
- 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 am a caring person who knows how to listen to you and to your community issues and then will take action to pursue a better, fairer process for us all. I have years of working in collaboration with all levels of governments and a multitude of community groups.