Candidate for North Cowichan Councillor: Marilyn Palmer

Marilyn Palmer


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

I’ve been involved in advocating for community values to local government for the last few years through the Quamichan Lake Neighbourhood Association (QLNA) and the Cowichan Communities Coalition. My experience as President of the QLNA has allowed me to see first-hand how the decisions of municipal government impact our quality of life, our homes, our pocket books and our future. It’s clear to me that engagement and dialogue between Council and the citizens who elect them must evolve to a more robust level, to build a culture of successful collaboration and to create the world we want.

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

Of course I support the concept of protection of our water and watersheds! An integrated approach is certainly essential but I’m unsure if this tax is the only way to accomplish that. I trusting that continued discussion with members of the CVRD will provide me with the information I need to decide.

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

YES. We must address the housing crisis for those who can’t find afford housing. If it’s true that we can’t access provincial and federal money without additional investment of dedicated tax dollars to leverage investment, then it seems we have no choice but to support the tax. I’d like to see a conversation with private sector developers and with UDI, (Urban Development Institute), to explore ways in which they could be incentivized to participate in delivering affordable housing, as they do in other municipalities. As a municipality we must ensure we are not unduly constraining the supply side of the equation.


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

Collaboration must occur between North Cowichan’s Council and each of the other levels of government, so that with our neighbours, we can improve communications and information sharing; establish more coordinated planning on critical, region-wide issues; and understand our shared progress and responsibility for regional livability, sustainability, and resilience. Collaboration must be action-oriented.  

  • 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?  

We need to move quickly to evolve our land-use policies and regulations to contemporary standards. My suggestions include:

  • Adopt the provincial Energy Step Code to supplement the requirements of the BC Building Code.
  • Adopt Site Adaptive Planning measures so that development is no longer destructive of the natural environment.
  • Adopt the Canadian LEED building certification program as a goal for construction in the Valley. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

As an architect with 30 years of experience, I believe we can make real progress in protecting our environment if we choose to do so.

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

Our first objective must be to understand the carrying capacity of our Valley. There are environmental, social and economic limits to growth but we haven’t defined what those limits are yet. Once they are defined, we can plan responsibly, as a community, based on our shared values, in this beautiful Valley we are lucky enough to call home.

  • 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?

My three goals, if elected, are:

  • To develop a collaborative culture around the Council table and communicate much more frequently with the citizens who elect us
  • To understanding our capacity for sustainable growth: socially, economically and environmentally.

With respect to the use of municipal taxes, to link those who decide, to those who pay, to those who benefit and make sure taxpayers can see value for money. Tax dollars must be seen to be well stewarded.

  • 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 share the concern about a lack of consultation and accountability by municipal government arising from my experience as an advocate for community values in Quamichan South. It’s one of the factors that led me to the decision to stand for election.While ultimately Council votes on motions and the majority vote sees the decision made, in favour or opposed, I believe there is great potential for consultation before the vote – townhall meetings, workshops, informal gatherings with community – all can be regularly and frequently scheduled as each community proposes. Frequent consultation is a must!