Communication is key -
if we build community, we can leave a legacy
North Cowichan is a community of communities. Smaller parts of a greater whole -- neighbours who share a common home on the traditional territory of Hul’qu’mi’num speaking Nations.
I am honoured to serve at the Hul’qu’mi’num Treaty Main Table.
Rex Murphy opined local politics are "the atoms of democracy”
Local politics -- schools, zoning, developments hit us where we live. Council has an Official Community Plan (OCP) a Climate Action and Energy Plan, a Parks and Recreation Master Plan and are working on a Transportation Master Plan and a Biodiversity Plan to guide our decisions. There is a new Official Community Plan (OCP) adopted August 17th, 2022 after three years of robust public input.
In my first term Council supported my motion for a report on decisions Council made via a mailout. “Council-Matters”, (a clever pun another writer spun) is posted on the Municipal website and can be sent to your
Email after each Council meeting. Sign up for this and other notifications here. .northcowichan.ca/EN/meta/contact/notifications/newsletters-subscriptions.html
My motion for a public input period at the beginning of each agenda, where citizens can make their views known on agenda items, before Council votes on the issue also passed. Council meetings are live streamed and recorded, Committee meetings are streamed live. Mayor and Council are available by phone or email, or chats on the street. The Mayor, (or in her/his absence, the Deputy Mayor), is the official spokesperson for Council, yet you can contact any Councillors at most any time, the exception being after the close of a Public Hearing, as Council cannot receive any new information between the hearing and adoption, save technical information from it’s professional staff.
To stay informed on municipal projects sign up the ConnectNorthCowichan.ca, a low barrier online space for citizens to stay informed and give feedback. The Cowichan Valley Regional District is using the same ‘Bang the Table’ technology which requires a separate registration at PlanYourCowichan.ca.
Continue to work to improve communication with the public and to support seeking input and sharing plans at the outset.
Continue through education, communication and consultation to get support for major plans. This takes discernment, Council must be able to take the pulse of the community. It is not always the loudest voices that are the temperature of the community, and Council has an obligation in my view to always take into consideration best practices.
In 2011 I promised to press for a better designed and more user friendly website and I am proud of the website that NC now has which includes Council Live so that citizens can catch Council meetings from their own homes, either in live-time or later when convenient. www.northcowichan.ca/EN/main/municipal-hall/meeting-agendas.html
With a humble posture of learning, cultivate a respectful relationship with First Nations. This has been one of the most rewarding and growth producing parts of being on Council, and relationships between Council and neighbouring 1st Nations continue to be built, especially pre-Covid, through meetings, meals and tours.
One of our most important needs is communication, where everyone feels important and listened to. Feeling we have been heard is crucial for us to build community.
The politics of opposition and argument polarizes people, driving us apart instead of bringing us together. We need consultation, cooperation and collaboration, among all levels of government, all residents, First Nations and all Council members.
Forming and maintaining true community is a collaborative process. A two-way process.