Comox Valley Regional District candidates respond to questionnaire

Candidates discuss water as a resaleable commodity, aquaculture pollution and more

Comox Valley Regional District candidates were sent a series of questions by the Comox Valley Record.

Responses are listed by electoral area, then candidates. Candidate responses are posted in rotating order.

Area C incumbent Edwin Grieve opted not to participate.

1) Would you be in favour of the RD appealing to the province for the immediate banning of any future licences to draw water from common aquifers, for the purpose of resale?

Area A

Daniel Arbour – NO – The BC Water Act allows the Province to issue water licenses. There may be situations in the future where regional resale could support farming or other desirable activities in unserviced areas. I would prefer to vote on the merit of each application, even if most/all of them end up turned down.

Jim Elliott – YES – Water for sale by private individuals is not something I support, particularly from aquifers that others rely on for their water source.

Area B

Arzeena Hamir – YES – Bottling water from an unmapped aquifer in a region that is seeing substantial growth makes no sense to me.

Rod Nichol – YES – Also the province must consult with local government before issuing any kind of permit or licence for any other purpose

Area C

Jay Oddleifson – NO – I would prefer the CVRD appeal to the province for a greatly improved ground water stewardship program that increases local involvement and better protects the sustainability of our groundwater for human and animal health, agriculture, not for bulk export. It’s not yet clear, to me, that an immediate ban is justified.

2) Are you in favour of increasing the number of settlement nodes within the Regional Growth Strategy, to facilitate future development in the Comox Valley?

Area A

Jim Elliott – NO – I believe the number of settlement nodes currently is adequate for development. Future nodes should be where servicing for water,sewer, hydro and roads can be easily accessed or where lot size is adequate for individual servicing i.e. wells and septic.

Daniel Arbour – NO – At this point, there are numerous and sizeable opportunities for development within the settlement nodes framework, including in my Area (A). I favour doing a great job of supporting these first.

Area B

Rod Nichol – NO

Arzeena Hamir – NO – No, as this would mean amending the current Regional Growth Strategy. I would need to see the data that supports the need for more nodes.

Area C

Jay Oddleifson – YES – Yes, if future development is “smart development,” embodies the sustainability principles, adheres to the intent of the RGS and respects the multiple values and stakeholders within our community, including residents, businesses, ecosystems, recreation, agriculture, etc. I would also want to know that we were already on track to fully develop the capacity of the municipalities and current settlement nodes, before committing to additional settlement nodes.

3) Do you support the proposed amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy to facilitate the residential development near Stotan Falls?

Area A

Daniel Arbour – NO – The land is set aside as “Rural Area”, defined as working landscape in the Regional Growth Strategy. Neither a park or a high density subdivision support the primary goals for this section, and the onus is on the developer and community together to argue the merits of a change. It is important to protect designated working landscapes, otherwise we will end up with urban sprawl across the valley. This would undermine the character and appeal of the Comox Valley.

Jim Elliott – NO – Any amendment to the RGS requires careful consideration and public input. Again, ease of servicing should also be a consideration.

Area B

Arzeena Hamir – NO

Rod Nichol – NO

Area C

Jay Oddleifson – NO – I support the RGS. I support the amendment process. The RGS itself contains the amendment mechanism. The current application to amend is in progress. While this process is underway , directors should be listening and not deciding until public consultation is concluded. This discipline both upholds the RGS and respects the rights of the applicant.

4) Are you in favour of stricter bylaw regulations to combat the pollution caused by the aquaculture industry?

Area A

Jim Elliott – YES – The amount of the debris that litters Baynes sound is unacceptable and somehow needs to be addressed by the industry.

Daniel Arbour – NO – Not yet. There are problems as with other sectors, but I am more in favour to work constructively with the businesses and communities to solve those problems. Shellfish aquaculture should be one of our greenest local industries: it produces local, healthy food; it relies on healthy watersheds and ocean ecology for its products; and for the little bivalves to survive it encourages us to address climate change. Let’s implement practical solutions to the plastic pollution issue. It is my understanding industry and community leaders want to solve the problem permanently, so let’s get to it before we have to enforce.

Area B

Rod Nichol – YES

Arzeena Hamir – YES – I just saw how much plastic washed up on Denman. Microplastics in the ocean enter the food chain and end up contaminating our water and food.

Area C

Jay Oddliefson – NO – I do not believe that stricter bylaws are the answer without more details. Aquaculture is already heavily regulated (DFO, ASC) and I’m not able to comment knowledgeably on the effectiveness of those laws, policies and regulations. I do believe, however, the CVRD can work more effectively with industry and other levels of government to address public concerns, including pollution.

5) Are you in favour of the Comox Valley Agriplex project, as it is currently being proposed?

Area A

Daniel Arbour – NO – But not a firm no. I can’t seem to find enough information to pass judgement. I look forward to learn more about it from the Comox Valley Farmers Institute – I will attend a forum with them before election day.

Jim Elliott – NO – I need to do more research before I could support this or not. I do support the concept of such a facility, given the connection to agriculture we have in the Comox Valley.

Area B

Arzeena Hamir – NO – Not as it’s currently being proposed. It’s far too large and doesn’t meet the needs of the farming sector. Something smaller, in the middle of town, with a food and farming focus would be much more feasible and something I’d get behind.

Rod Nichol – YES – In principle, yes. The Regional District has provided a letter of support of the idea. In the big picture it could benefit many user groups and provide a place for larger agricultural events as well as equestrian. I do see a benefit for the whole Valley. The groups working on the concept are coming back to us with a business plan. There will be a lot more work and meetings before any decision can be made that would involve committing to this project.

Area C

Jay Oddleifson- YES – There is still much to do, however, to gain agreement between the various groups, Farmers’ Institute, Mid Island Farmers’ Institute, Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, that their needs are identified and met and there is consensus as to what the multiplex facility is and does. Also, how Vancouver Island MusicFest, for example, could benefit and contribute. A detailed and funded business plan is needed to define what monies are required, what portion is tax funded, what are the long term obligations. I think this could be valuable Community infrastructure. I’d like to work to see this happen.

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