Area I: Gail Dawson-Russell

Gail Dawson-Russell

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

In 2003 I achieved my CPA, CMA accounting designation with honours. I have an extensive 40 year admin and finance background with government, public and private industries. In 2008 my partner Max and I bought our home on Youbou Road, where we now operate a CPA/CMA licensed practice, in addition to Lake Cow Storage. Why do I want your Area I vote? "I am concerned about the current Leadership being provided to the residents of Area I, and feel I can do better. I want to bring a higher level of social, environmental and fiscal responsibility to our area.

  • Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?  

YES. I first want to let Area I know that this referendum doesn't include the replacement of the weir or meters on wells; if these happen they will be separate referenda. This referendum is related to the protection and management of the region's water resources, including riparian and wildlife habitat concerns. As the region grows it will be vital that we know where our water resources are and capacities, to allow for optimum planning opportunities. This new CVRD service will also open up further provincial and federal funding available related to water services. The fee of approximately $20 per household is minimal compared to the benefits.

  • Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw? 

No. I support the establishment of a CVRD service related to safe affordable housing. However, I'm not convinced that the Cowichan Housing Association is the right group to give control of these funds to. Why spend our tax dollars, and possibly years, to develop the CHA, when there are already organizations with the necessary resources to fulfil the mandate of getting ‘bricks and mortar’ projects underway. The need is great and urgent. We shouldn't waste our time and money on “reinventing” the wheel when great wheels are already available. What other options were considered? Without involvement of the CHA, I would support this initiative.  

  • How do you plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as provincial and federal governments?

It is difficult for me to answer this question as I am new to the municipal government arena. However, rest assured that I will learn quickly. I have a great deal of respect for the First Nations peoples and will welcome the opportunity to listen to their concerns, or discuss opportunities and challenges. Through communication, negotiation and collaboration I will work within my capacity as a CVRD Area I Director to respond to these concerns and to lead change. I intend to diligently seek out provincial and federal grants and funding for Area I and the region.     

  • 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?  

To some extent the proposed water referendum would address impacts to our water resources by climate change. I encourage the region citizens to support this initiative. I would be interested in learning more about what climate change mitigation and/or adaptation strategies are currently being considered. I will listen and learn. I will meet with local NGOs to further discover their thoughts, findings and research. Again, through respectful communication and collaboration we can impact and limit the effects of climate change in the region.

  • How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?

The management of growth sustainability is already an important component and mandate of the CVRD. I will seek out more social, environmental and fiscally responsible options when addressing these concerns, opportunities, and challenges. Affordable housing options are urgently needed throughout the region and should be a priority for 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?

1) Safe Affordable Housing. Young families and seniors need affordable housing options now. Local government needs to find land, developers and funds to build low-cost/affordable housing options in the near future, not the distant future.

2) Water Protection and Management: The water referendum is a step in the right direction. With it in place, local government will be ready to act. Constituents need to support this initiative, and then hold government accountable.

3) Economic Development: Too many commercial spaces are sitting vacant. We need to determine and confront barriers to entry. Local governments need to find options for encouraging businesses to come to the Cowichan Valley.

  • 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?

It is my position that I speak for the Area I constituents, my voice is their voice. I intend to live by this philosophy. I will regularly reach out to Area I to inform, discuss, and challenge issues and pursue opportunities. I will make use of social media, email, phone calls, and in-person community meetings. I will seek majority consensus, and will act with their input and direction.