Candidate for North Cowichan Councillor: Peter Rusland

Peter Rusland

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

I covered all Cowichan councils as a 27-year reporter. I know much of the background of MNC’s complex issues, most seated in environmental crises spanning water and sprawl to sewage, burning and trash. I want to work on an environmentally cooperative council team committed to solving these and other ugly situations by making North Cowichan a green-economy showpiece.

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

YES. There are other ways to address our surface water and aquifer crises, but buying in to this function allows Cowichan taxpayers to annually demand answers and action from staff and politicians while the CVRD to leverages federal water-protection funds. I’m against more lame bureaucracy but assume our CVRD board hadn’t the will to tackle and solve our water issues, or they would have by now.

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

YES. I support this bylaw to demand action from staff and politicians on our housing crisis. Match developers and citizen-based need to grants and land and right location. Define ‘affordable housing’ by creative, green housing for all folks, spanning street people, working poor and families to seniors. This bylaw must have annual results, as in homes built, as soon as possible.

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

Hold regular meetings with other local governments, including at the CVRD table. Opening far more doors with local First Nations elders’ and boards is key to a prosperous, cooperative valley. Provincially, Cowichan must chase and invite provincial and federal ministers to tour and see our good and bad situations, hence understanding our crucial needs. We must have shared goals and communicate face to face far better.    

  • 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?  

I would support all measures to locally fight climate change by banning more plastics, banning open burning and new wood heating, treating sewage to pure water, determining our surface water and aquifers toward limits to growth, supporting green companies and groups, passing tree-cutting bylaws, and putting green innovation into our building bylaws.

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

Establish limits to grow levels numbers soonest. Determine how many people Cowichan can support while preserving our environment and lifestyle. Prioritize free, zero-emission buses and rail-based commuter lines. Freeze farmland rezoning applications. Install rental caps and tie them to cost of living hikes.

  • 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?

Environmental degradation, unfair taxes due to economic stagnation, and a lack of creative, cooperative solutions to all three. Local governments must use bylaws to reject growth that isn’t ecologically and socially sustainable.

  • 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?

Citizens and local groups must feel heard and welcome to give ideas and criticism to local government during regular board and committee meetings, plus ongoing town hall meetings. Politicians are sadly not listening to locals, but increasingly relying on staff, consultants and OCPs to make decisions.