Please tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to run in this election?
Since the moment I moved to Shawnigan I wanted to be part of the community. I volunteered at the schools and in the community. I helped organize rallies, hikes, fundraisers, tours of the Contaminated Soil Dump, Earth Day Celebrations, parties for our local volunteers and even a First Nations Pipe Ceremony. The event that really got me hooked on making a difference was the Blue Dot Walk at the Trestle. It attracted 200 people and persuaded the CVRD Board to sign the Blue Dot Declaration. Later I became Sonia Furstenau’s Alternate and took the Office of Director in May 2017. In September 2017 I won the by-election. This role has a big learning curve and many of my initiatives are just starting to get momentum. I hope to continue with what I’ve started.
Do you support the Drinking Water & Watersheds Protections Service bylaw referendum?
a. Yes I only have one vote, just like everyone else; as Area Director I cannot undo or change the outcome of the referendum. However, if there is one thing the community of Shawnigan knows it is that water is a valued resource worth fighting for. Most importantly the CVRD needs to make better land use decisions that take into account where the aquifers are and the effects of climate change.
Do you support the Cowichan Housing Association Service Establishment bylaw?
a. Yes, I can’t think of two more important issues than Water and Housing... and again, like you, I have just one vote for the referendum questions. Water and housing are extremely important for our area and the region. I know the people of Shawnigan care about each other, our local environment and the ability to have safe affordable housing for children, youth, families and seniors. Currently it is very difficult for youth and aging seniors to stay in Shawnigan Lake if they want smaller more affordable housing. With this in mind, I have also started a conversation on our zoning and bylaws in support of the housing crisis. I look forward to additional conversations on how Electoral Areas can play a role in creating the housing stock we need in our community by reviewing and modernizing some of our bylaws and zoning.
How do you plan to work with other governments within the region, including local First Nations as well as provincial and federal governments?
I would continue as I have been. I already have a relationship with our MLA, Sonia Furstenau (both as a mentor and a friend) and our MP, Alistair MacGregor. Through activism, I realized that most politicians are simply trying to do their best for the communities they serve and are usually very accessible. Now I meet people from all levels of Government, including First Nation Leaders, on a regular basis. It’s all about building relationships and listening to all view points.
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?
Given the importance of water, I think the CVRD should be acquiring environmentally sensitive land in our watersheds to help protect our supply of surface water. It is also very important that we continue the momentum to move toward a lower carbon footprint. I would support initiatives both these areas. I am happy to say that our family just recently purchased it’s first fully electric car.
How do you propose managing growth sustainably in the Cowichan Region (e.g. transportation, environmental/agricultural protection, land-use, housing, cost of living)?
I think we will be much better off if we work on these issues as a region, rather than working on this issue as 9 Electoral Areas and 4 Municipalities. The New Cowichan 2050 initiative is a good start.
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?
For Electoral Areas we are limited to the Community Charter. We need to put pressure on the Province to give us better tools. The top items in Shawnigan Lake, Area B are;
A Viable Village Core
Watershed and Riparian Protection
At a local level we have very limited control. People feel frustrated, disappointed and helpless. This is when I hear people say they don’t get enough for their taxes. If we had some of the tools Municipalities have, we could better reach our goals.
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 feel I am doing a good job communicating out and asking for input from the electorate. Once a month I hold a Director’s open house, I write a monthly update in the local paper, I have a blog and I am active on social media. I have made suggestions to the CVRD on how to be more creative at engaging the public, but the community needs to make an effort to be informed as well. As for accountability, that comes from understanding. I can say I’m going to do something, but if I can’t build consensus at the board table, it’s not going to happen; I am simply one vote out of 15. I did, just recently, initiate a review of the time between committee meetings and decisions at the Board in an effort to extend the public input period, which would hopefully improve transparency.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer some questions before the election.