During the lead up to the election in 2011 I started this website to let folks know the kind of person I am and what I stood for.
I planned to write regular blogs, but a series of deaths and losses took up a lot of my free time this past last year and well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.
Not to say it hasn't been a busy year around the municipality. There are many projects in the works, from roundabouts to a new square at Chemainus, a Local Area Plan for future growth in Crofton and the University Village Local Area Plan. We worked for a year on a Communications Plan designed to improve the relationship between the District and residents by improving communication. Further in that vein we met with Chief and Council of Cowichan Tribes and the City of Duncan to open the lines of communication, cooperation and where possible, collaboration. We may finally break ground on the long awaited Chemainus Skate Park this fall. And recently Council voted unanimously (a rare occurrence) to use some of the extra gas tax monies to build an artificial soccer turf. These are just a few of the items off the top of my head. And of course the Echo Heights issue is finally put to rest.
I've learned how challenging it is to be able to make anything happen on Council unless you have majority support. I had hoped 100 % of Echo Heights would become a park. In the end I voted for 91%. Not my first choice, and not one that would make everyone happy, but hopefully one that the majority of people can live with.
All we can do as elected servants is our best. Each Councillor has only one vote in seven and sometimes we have to compromise our best and highest hope for the best we can get. The Echo Heights example is one of those times.
On July 10, there was a special Council meeting to decide how to expand the Urban Containment Boundary into the space now being dubbed the 'dry side of the dike' north of Beverly Street. Though the dike admittedly cuts off the southern portion of the marsh from the rest of it, that land still provides ecological services and habitat for
other species. Also, going back to the days of Rex Hollett, the Someonos Management Plan calls for some reforestation there.
It's my preference to have the UCB end at Beverly Street, but a small tract of land belonging to SD 79 was already included in the UCB. At the special Council meeting, I moved a motion that gained no traction that the Fun Pacific Property also be included, but nothing else. That was a big compromise on my part and I was hoping I could convince a majority on Council to support it. It made sense to me because it abuts the SD land currently in the UCB. Despite unheeded requests from the City of Duncan and The Cowichan Tribes to reconsider moving the UCB to the dike Council voted to move the UCB to the dike, and at a subsequent meeting passed a plan with some suggested land uses.
Community input and consultation mean a lot to me. Over a period of about 16 months a Strategic Planning Group comprised of business people, educators, environmentalist as well as representation from the province met with NC staff and NC Mayor and some members of Duncan Council on an ongoing basis to come up with the University Village Local Area Plan.
It was comprised of reps from all facets of the community and the majority of them were in favour of leaving the UCB where it is.
I agree with them, but realized most of my colleagues did not. At it's last meeting, Council voted 4 - 3 for a land use plan that would see mixed commercial and residential zoning on a much bigger portion of that area than I feel comfortable with.
This current Council has spent much time building a relationship (that includes a protocol) with Duncan and also has worked on building a relationship with the Cowichan Tribes. To ignore their requests and push through this vote felt wrong to me.
You might hear that about 175 people signed a petition in favour of it. I have my own reasons for not wanting it moved. As well, I can't get past the fact that the Strategic working group, (which included two NC Planners and the consultant to the plan, as well as representatives from all facets of the community) who worked together for about 16 months, looked at the whole situation and recommended keeping the UCB were it was, for many reasons that are clearly spelled out in the plan.
It is true that if the community comes out strongly against what Council passed, the decision could be reconsidered down the road. Public input and a public hearing are part of the process of finalizing this recent decision. This could very well become an election issue.
If you have thoughts about it, I encourage you to read the University Village Plan
and let Council know your thoughts by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy your summer, and please note starting Tuesday, North Cowichan goes to stage 3 water restrictions.