Karen Deck - Candidate for Director, CVRD Area I, Youbou/Meade Creek www.facebook.com/karendeckyoubou
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I grew up in Calgary where my parents taught me my earliest lessons about being a good neighbour and an engaged citizen. My husband I moved to Youbou when I retired from teaching. It was here where my education about watersheds started and continues to this day. Joining conservation and stewardship groups solidified my belief that everything in nature is connected; but heightened my concern that the climate emergency is unravelling these connections. When I found out that local governments are making decisions that are helping to create a livable world for future generations, I decided to run.
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 would concentrate my efforts on these initiatives that I believe could make important reductions to GHG emissions:
creating bylaws that require new buildings to be heated and cooled using "no carbon" energy. (solar, hydro)
ensuring there are programs and facilities in place to remove organic waste from the solid waste system.
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?
The three strategies I would work to implement are: increasing access to public transportation, increasing the number of public EV charging stations and creating more safe, walkable, bike-able communities.
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?
I believe that housing is a human right. I would advocate for an evidence-based program like "Housing First" that would focus on meeting basic needs for housing for those with addictions and mental health issues, but also on supporting recovery and healing.
I would advocate for providing a variety of housing options to individuals and families. Affordability, access to public transportation and regional growth containment boundaries must be considered. I support densification where conditions are in place to ensure water safety and security and to reduce the necessity to drive to access basic services.
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?
To protect our watersheds and drinking water we should continue testing for quality and quantity of water in aquifers and expand testing protocols to components of fertilizers and herbicides. We need data collected over time guiding decision-making regarding potential developments.
To increase local food production and food security, farmers could be incentivized to use their land to grow food, not just feed for cattle. We could also promote land sharing and community gardens. Since provincial regulations are in place to protect agricultural lands, I need to learn more about how we can create added protections within the CVRD.
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 definitely support this move. It avoids the costs of retrofitting as society moves toward clean renewable forms of energy for heating and cooling in all buildings.
The BC Building Code addresses energy efficiency, including how to respond to inefficient energy performance of buildings or building components. Assuming that clean, renewable forms of energy are also more efficient, it would be a matter of changing CVRD building codes and bylaws to mandate heat pumps in new builds.
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 would enthusiastically support all objectives that address the urgency of action on the climate emergency. Objectives are aspirational, so if elected, I would work very hard with my colleagues to prioritize objectives, create bylaws that would be most impactful and would create incentives for compliance.
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?
I think it is critical to inform, engage and empower the community to take on the challenges that the climate emergency presents and to measure and celebrate progress made by the CVRD, communities and individuals.
The CVRD must demonstrate the courage of its convictions by being prepared to stand behind its bylaws with consistent enforcement.
As pressures on sources of water increase, it will become more critical for the CVRD to support and strengthen strategic partnerships with jurisdictions and entities who share responsibility for water security and protection of watersheds.
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?
When opportunities arise, I will respectfully collaborate with local First Nations and with the provincial and federal governments in the work of achieving a safer, healthier, more equitable future.