I’d like to represent you on North Cowichan Council. I envision a resilient community that shares ideas openly and works together to make our future strong.
To help this happen, we need Council to get in the habit of earlier, more thorough communication with residents. More listening than telling. For instance, I support the idea of local area associations being asked for input early in the process when developments in their neighborhoods come forward. This is the kind of cooperative, consultative approach we need, and it makes local people a part of the process early on.
I’m pleased to see North Cowichan is at last ready to approve the “blue store” property development. Bringing this to the action point took communication and negotiation.
I’m sad that we have fallen so far short in dealing with our neighbors on sharing water resources that BC’s and Canada’s supreme courts have been drawn into the discussion. I promise you that on Council, I will use my professional and personal skills to do better.
I’m grieved by the hard feelings between neighbors just because our opinions differ on issues, like Echo Heights. You should know that I think it’s wise -- fiscally, as well as for our future -- to preserve Echo Heights. I support forward-thinking development, but the fact is that housing developments cost each of us in higher taxes over the long term; they never do produce enough tax revenues to cover the services they require.
Selling lots on Echo Heights could net the municipality some short-term cash; yet I firmly believe that in the long term, losing that forest isn’t worth it. I grew up in Vancouver, and I can’t imagine it without Stanley Park. We need green spaces close to our town center.
It’s not like there’s a call for more expensive housing in Chemainus. Ask anyone who’s been trying to sell their home lately. We need affordable housing, close to downtown.
And we’ve got to redeem a 10-year-old promise and build the skatepark.
I’m concerned that many folks are unhappy with the proposal to locate the library in Water Wheel Park parking lot, and I tend to agree. It seems to me a great space to beautify and continue to use for festivals and events, as well as central parking.
I’m also concerned by the proposed partnership with St. Joseph’s School. The public already owns two school buildings and a third school site in town. Chemainus Elementary and Chemainus High are fine facilities, either of which can accommodate the programs a community center would provide. Our remarkable senior center already offers wonderful programs to the 55+ crowd (that’s me in three months!) and the cost can’t be beat. A small community meeting space, with a one-day-a-week satellite municipal office, could be accommodated in the new library building.
New buildings and streetscapes, a real waterfront area and revitalized storefronts are wonderful. What we need most, though, is real economic health -- a more resilient, sustainable local economy. There are far too many empty storefronts in Chemainus; and the high cost of housing, plus the shortage of liveable-wage jobs in the area, has pushed our school enrollments way too low.
Yet -- we’ve pulled ourselves up from the brink before, and we can do it again. Look at how the murals infused new life into our town. This idea came from local people, with government listening and acting as a partner. The face of tourism has changed since the 1980s, though, and now we need reasons for folks to come here -- and stay awhile.
For instance, I’d love to see Chemainus become the Island’s Stratford or Ashland. We have many fine stages where productions can be mounted. We could invite VIU, SD 79 and Chemainus Theatre Festival to offer credit courses in theater arts -- from acting and set building to costume making and theatre managing. In tourist season, we could have weeklong drama camps for all ages, culminating in public displays and performances.
As the world seeks a more sustainable future, Chemainus can again be at the forefront of a renaissance. This is one of the most beautiful places to live in Canada, and one of the richest in creativity, energy and caring. If anyone can do it, we can.
Above all -- property taxes have to stay affordable. We can’t make life here impossible for folks on fixed incomes. I’ll be constantly looking for ways to save -- especially on big capital projects. For example, I firmly believe in joining with other agencies to find more uses for existing buildings, rather than mortgaging our future to build new ones.
Our community is at a crossroads. In every decision, we must balance growth with keeping taxes affordable. We must balance today’s needs with the rights of future generations. We must always consider what we’re leaving for our grandchildren – what burden we may be laying on their shoulders, what doors we are opening for them.
I know we can do this, if we work together. Because I know local politics -- I served two terms on the Cowichan School Board, managing a $ 42 million budget. I then took time out to raise a second family. Now, I‘m a professional leader of workshops, retreats and teleseminars. I serve on the Chemainus High School Planning Council, and the Chemainus-Crofton Community Schools board. And I volunteer at Cowichan Valley Hospice, working one-to-one with clients and training other volunteers.
I’ve also been privileged to participate in the Regional Affordable Housing Directorate. I’m honored that the directorate and Social Planning Cowichan have invited me to help design a project to address our affordable housing needs in the Cowichan region.
Ask anyone I’ve worked with: I listen, I consider all viewpoints -- and I do my homework.
On November 19th, make a choice -- for change with experience.
Neighbours working together
to make our visions real