Judy Johnson is running for a seat on Comox council in the upcoming byelection. Photo supplied

Judy Johnson is running for a seat on Comox council in the upcoming byelection. Photo supplied

Council byelection candidate Johnson wants to bring community spirit back into Comox

Judy Johnson is one of four candidates running in the Comox byelection for the vacated seat on council. The Record has offered each candidate the opportunity to introduce themselves to the community and explain why they chose to run in the byelection.

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I have long thought (and written letters) about the actions and potential of town council to serve its community.

I wrote, directed, produced, sang and acted in The Town that FUN Forgot, a political spoof of our safety-conscious town, where we have the smoothest roads to nowhere very fun. Whether people realize it or not, the Lorne Hotel was the heart of the community, and when it burned down, so did our meeting place.

My desire has been to bring some life and fun to the town so that we don’t have to go into Courtenay for our best social outings, or all the way to the Waverley to enjoy regular dancing and live music. Perhaps the town could support the Little Red Church with some funding so that locals could provide weekly entertainment. Perhaps we could buy the Lorne lot to build a replica Lorne. Perhaps we could make a more extensive beachfront walkway, like Campbell River’s, that takes us more than 50 steps out into the ocean or directly into the mudflats. There’s no sense of community here because there is no heart-place (or reason) to gather.

A vibrant community needs to care about each other. Mental illness (anxiety, depression, PTSD…) is the social norm, rather than the exception. I have all three. And I blame most of our troubles on a lack of community: We are so programmed in our society to “do-it-yourself” that we don’t ask for the help that we need. And often, there isn’t any help for what we need – just a lot of paperwork.

One thing that both the town and the individual citizens could do to create a community is to turn Shakesides into the nature house that Mack Laing intended when he willed it to the citizens of Comox. Mack Laing Heritage Society has created a business plan with committed donors and volunteers from the trades and the public to renovate Shakesides into the most environmentally self-sustaining building.

Maybe Shakesides will be our new heart of Comox. Besides giving us a common purpose to work at, it can become our common gathering place. Maybe the museum is just the beginning. The key part of creating a vital community is having a common meeting ground – both literally and philosophically. Mack Laing played the fiddle, for God’s sake! Let’s bring some life and music back to the place.

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