Tom Duncan - Candidate for re-election, Duncan Council
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
I have been on Council for 14 years, I have a background in union governance and was on my union (MoveUP) executive for 35 years, the education provided me with experience in Budgeting, Bylaws and Policy, when I was nearing retirement from ICBC I decided to use my experience to benefit my community.
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?
The City of Duncan has a transportation master plan which will assist in continuing to make our City a walkable and public transit friendly hub of the Cowichan Valley I support continued collaboration with our municipal neighbours to reduce GHG emissions.
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?
As noted above implementing the Master Transportation Plan to create better cycling and walkable pathways will assist with reducing GHG emissions, lobbying for more electric Transit vehicles and safer highway crossings will encourage our citizens to get out of their vehicles.
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 have and continue to advocate for more assisted housing. I put forward a motion at the last Council meeting in 2018 to enter into a partnership with BC Housing to build affordable assisted housing which is nearing completion on White Road in Duncan. The current Council has passed zoning amendments to encourage Secondary suites and carriage homes in our City, Also, when the developers of the new apartment on Garden Street brought the proposal to Council, we negotiated a written agreement that these apartments will always be rental inventory and rents will be based on a regional average income.
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?
The City has a Food Charter to encourage local food production and we continue to provide some of the best drinking water in the Province from the local aquifer. We also lobbied to build the flood protection around the City after the flooding of 2008.
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?
Most homes in Duncan no longer use heating oil, as most home insurance companies no longer insure residences with oil heating. The City has also had a grant program to replace old wood stoves with more efficient wood stoves.
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?
The City of Duncan is currently in the final stages of approving an updated Official Community Plan, I support this plan. I also feel the Cowichan Valley Regional Government must review their regional plans to support stronger social and environmental standards.
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?
The major issues in our community are affordable housing, addictions and future developments, our Council has implemented zoning changes to promote densification. We continue to lobby the Provincial ministries responsible for addictions and mental health meeting with the Minister at the recent UBCM conference, we have a safe injection site, a homeless shelter, many municipalities do not have these services, only through continued collaboration can we improve these services.
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?
Our city has a very good working relationship with the local First Nations and we have several agreements to provide services, such as, water, sewage and fire protection. Also, as an example of leadership the City of Duncan was one of the first municipalities to adopt renaming of local streets and we are currently involved in a First Nations Mural project.