Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I’m a 46-year resident, raised 4 kids here, former EA, School Trustee, Library Trustee, and personal and professional development facilitator. The passing of the OCP in North Cowichan and the promise it allows for the big changes needed were a big reason for me to want to continue to contribute. I’d like to be at the table for the decisions on the highest and best use of the Municipal Forests as well as the new Biodiversity Plan and the Master Transportation Plan. As a three-term Councillor, I will bring the most experience of all the candidates back to the table.
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?
We have a pathway to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. We may not reach 45% by 2030, as much depends on citizens, a large municipality. Urban Containment Boundaries, growth in walkable communities, bike lanes, more transit. Using our .5% dedicated tax wisely. Move forward on the step code. Encourage local food and business. No greenfield development whenever possible. Support carriage houses, secondary suites, top up senior government grants to retrofit homes to electric heat. Encourage ductless heat pumps and car shares in the apartment and multifamily developments we are approving. Work with developers on the energy step code.
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?
Focusing growth in commercial cores, increase active transportation offers, pressure BC Hydro to provide more buses that meet the work/shopping needs of citizens.
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?
Work with experts and lobby the heck out of the Province to assist with housing the homeless and addressing the illegal drug problem. Push for a legal supply of safe drugs and more treatment options here. Work with developers to get 10% of new developments non-market. We have had success here in recent developments and millions of dollars in other amenities were also obtained.
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?
Raising the weir will allow for more water when it’s needed in the Cowichan River. I think a similar type of storage at the headwaters of the Chemainus river is necessary. Work with the Minister of all things water and the CVRD data to ascertain what is required. In North Cowichan our drinking water is carefully monitored, yet increasing rain could affect the recharge. Require new builds to be set up for greywater use and study how we might implement provincially approved compositing toilets. Linking grey water to standard toilets is an option to explore.
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?
Yes, I do commit to exploring how to get gas and oil out of our built environment. Certainly, we can regulate that all new builds are heated with electric heat pumps. Retrofitting is currently assisted by senior grants and may be assisted by the PACE program or one like it down the road. This is going to need some heavy lifting from Canada and BC for a municipality our size to eliminate fossil fuels from buildings in North Cowichan, and working with local groups whose focus is climate, and pressuring BC Hydro to pay a fair return on net metering.
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’d make the required motions to implement the needed By-laws, particularly updating the Zoning By-Law. Stick as closely as possible to the OCP. I don’t support opening it up in anyway. It is meant to be a 30-year document. In 28-years we will be at 2050, so that progressive plan needs implementing and the only tinkering I may support must make it absolutely better for climate/environment and housing needs (within growth centers).
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?
Climate/environment, housing shortage, and affordability.
Follow our Climate Plan, continue to encourage multi-unit developments such as those recently approved, keep lobbying for senior government investments in affordable housing, and do what we can through programs such as linking land to future farmers, providing space for community gardens etc. to get more local food production. Cycling lanes and exploring using the NEV’s that some other communities are using, which are a very cost-effective way of getting around your small town.
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?
Seek them out whenever necessary, build relationships with Ministers and their staff at conferences and through requesting meetings at the Leg, or when appropriate, invite them here. Consult with First Nations and build authentic relationships with them. If elected and reappointed by Council to the Treaty table, I support Land Back for First Nations to have the stability the rest of us are seeking in our communities. All of these answers depend on the support of a majority of Council, they are my goals and commitments. Like-minded Councillors are needed to begin them and move them forward.