Two nights ago the first all candidates meeting took place in Maple Bay. It came as important events often do, at a most inconvenient time. The evening of the fourth day of an intense training I was giving. My biggest and longest annual workshop I was exhausted and editing my talk in the car on the way (because my read through clocked 3 minutes - a full 1/3 over my allotted time)
So I thought I'd post the full version for those present as well as those who were unable to be there.
I'm a 54 year old grandmother and I've lived in North Cowichan for 35 years.
We need respectful, two-way communication, where everyone feels important and listened to, if we're going to build a resilient community.
A Council that engages people in a positive, proactive way rather than waiting to hear from them when they're unhappy. After all, it's our money that funds government at all levels -- we should have a say about how its spent.
The people of North Cowichan have a wealth of experience, insight and creativity -- and a vested interest in making this the best possible place to live. Our ideas need to be taken seriously.
Like your Association's idea that neighbourhoods be consulted early in the process when developments for their neighbourhoods come forward. This is the kind of cooperative, consultative approach we need and it makes local people a part of the process early on. It's the kind of win/win thinking we need.
Look at how the Chemainus murals project infused new life into a town that was losing its industrial base. This idea came from local people supported by government. Crofton's Seawalk is another example. These are the kinds of creative things people can accomplish -- when government listens, and acts as partner.
I know local politics -- having served two terms on the Cowichan School Board helping to manage a $ 42 million budget and creating the then state-of-the-art Francis Kelsey School. Taking time out from politics to raise a second family I've been serving on the board of the Chemainus Crofton Community Schools Association and on the Chemainus High School Planning Council. I'm also privileged to participate in the Regional Affordable Housing Directorate and volunteer with Cowichan Valley Hospice, working one-to-one with clients and training fellow volunteers in the art of listening.
Since holding office, I've built a career facilitating personal and professional development workshops, retreats and teleseminars.
I want North Cowichan Council to be known for creativity and cooperation instead of logjams and lawsuits. Spending our tax money on unresolved disputes is a shameful waste. If we can work together, as neighbours, everybody wins.
We're at a crossroads. We must focus our best energies on building what I call 'real economic health' -- a broad-based, resilient local economy. This means sticking to 'smart growth' strategies and actively seeking and supporting a wide variety of sustainable small and mid-sized businesses.
A more inclusive economy that supports us all. Attracting and keeping companies that pay liveable wages -- and municipal taxes. Senior governments low income tax policies continuously download responsibilities to local governments.
Take housing. How can we address this added responsibility? Partnering with other agencies, lobbying senior governments and working with our First Nations neighbours on affordable housing. For 40 years housing prices in BC have risen more than any other province, while wages (adjusted for inflation) have stagnated.
We need homes for everyone -- pensioners, young people, the differently-abled, single parents, empty nesters and families. Our elders deserve to live with dignity and our children to be able to raise their families here.
A self-sustaining economy that creates wealth and keeps it. This means encouraging local food security, and promoting local industries that process and re-process our natural resources. We can't just ship raw logs and fish -- or the profits from our labor -- overseas.
Every decision has to balance growth with keeping taxes affordable - to balance the rights of future generations with the needs of today.
Of all the places in Canada to live, North Cowichan is one of the most desirable. If anyone can draw innovative green businesses, and entrepreneurs who want to be long-term contributors, it's us. We can create a broad-based, resilient, inclusive economy that
helps us all flourish -- with a wide variety of liveable-wage jobs, affordable housing, local food security and fair taxes invested wisely. Working together, we really can make this the best place possible place to live.
I intend to help that happen. Join me.
I'm passionate about this beautiful place we call home and take my service as Councillor at North Cowichan and Director at CVRD very seriously.