Hilary Abbott – Candidate for Director, CVRD Area D Cowichan Bay www.hilaryabbott.ca
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I’m a 30-year resident of Cowichan Bay and have served on the Cowichan Bay – Area D Planning Committee and as a member of the Official Community Plan Committee for our current OCP, as well as a CVRD Economic Development Commissioner. I’m a 30-Year Rotarian and spent 15-years working close to the land and operating an Artisan Business with my wife Patty in Cowichan Bay. I also have 20-years experience working in the not-for-profit sector. Community service is close to my heart.
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?
As a region we need to do our part to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions. We can do more to create a safe, walkable bikeable community that gets people out of their cars (I’ve been enjoying campaigning using my e-bike) and there are many more things we can do. We also need to adapt to the impacts that are already here to protect our water and watersheds and safeguard against increasing extreme weather events. It’s good to know we have a team working on that at the CVRD.
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?
More active transportation options are important (safe walking and biking trails and advocating with BC Transit for smaller buses and more frequent service), and more EV charging stations will help, along with supporting development more compact neighborhoods close to services.
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?
We need to advocate with senior levels of government for more supports for more below market affordable housing in the valley, as that’s a provincial and federal area of responsibility. Access to housing is also key to addressing both homelessness and the addiction crisis.
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?
I will advocate for safe drinking water - quality and quantity - for Area D, and for the health of our Cowichan watershed and estuary. As someone who has lived and worked on agricultural land, I understand how our water and local food supply are interconnected.
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 understand that the City of Victoria making this move in 2025, and Saanich is looking to follow their lead with the support of the Capital Regional District, so I think this is something we need to look at in the Cowichan Valley.
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 look forward to being engaged in the CVRD’s Harmonized OCP process, as it seems like a lot of good community consultation has taken place and there is more to come. I will encourage the community to stay engaged and involved as community input really matters.
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?
Only three? My priorities are: 1) affordable and available housing, 2) a safe, walkable, accessible community, 3) Improved public and active transportation, 4) supporting existing businesses and new business opportunities in Area D, 5) encouraging more green space and preserving and protecting what we have, 6) acting to mitigate climate change, and 7) protecting our water
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?
Respectfully and collaboratively, seeking partnerships and working together whenever possible.