Communication is key -
if we build community, we can leave a heritage
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 draft OCP going to public hearing July 18th virtually and July 19th at Mellor Hall. So why don't more of us get involved? Partly we're busy on the every-day-athon of life. Partly we don’t realize how big a difference we can make.
There is an ongoing consultation underway, broad and deep to consider the highest and best use of the six municipal mountains.
In my first term Council supported my suggestion for a report on decisions Council debated and took on them via Council-Matters, a clever pun, gets you an overview of the week’s decisions via email. You can also sign up to receive info on other topicswww.northcowichan.ca/EN/meta/contact/notifications/newsletters-subscriptions.html
I also requested 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. I was pleased the Council of the day passed the motions I moved to create two of those things and that meetings are now live streamed and archived. And Mayor and Council are available by phone or email, or chats on the street.
To stay informed on municipal projects sign up the ConnectNorthCowichan.ca, a low barrier online space for citizens 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 seek input and share 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.
Early in my 1st term I pressed for a regular "Council's Matters" column in local papers and online, to inform citizens. NC currently publishes Council Matters online and you can have it sent directly to your email inbox.
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.