Affordable housing hot topic for three Courtenay mayoral candidates

Affordable housing is a hot topic in Courtenay, and the three men vying for the mayor's seat had a chance to address this issue Monday.

Affordable housing is a hot topic in Courtenay, and the three men vying for the mayor’s seat in the Nov. 19 municipal election had a chance to address this issue Monday night.

About 250 people attended the Courtenay all-candidates’ forum at the Florence Filberg Centre featuring mayoral candidates Greg Phelps, Larry Jangula and Bill Bate — along with the 16 men and women running for a seat on council.

Jangula, who has served as a councillor for nine years, is seeking the mayor’s seat for the first time.

“Our city is now facing many important issues that require thorough and careful consideration; those decisions will affect our community and taxpayers for many years to come,” he said. “The city needs civic leaders that are capable of making these challenging decisions in the best interest of all of our community and not just a few.

“This needs leaders who will go the extra mile to understand the issues and the impact of their decisions on our community, all the time making sure that everyone is included in the process. I believe I am one of those leaders that is capable of meeting those challenges.”

Challenger Bate has lived in the Comox Valley for 32 years.

“I’ve witnessed some of the same changes that many of you have,” he said. “The lines between the communities have become so blurred that it’s become difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends. We appear to be growing together, but are we really working together for the greater good? Our economic advancement and environmental sustainability depend on our focusing on shared goals and a mutual respect.”

Bate believes the mayor and council and the administration they oversee are supposed to reflect the positive in the city, but too often, there is divisiveness and indecision.

Phelps is seeking a second term as mayor, and he highlighted a number of achievements in the city during his time as mayor — including the widening of Cliffe Avenue and refurbishment of the Native Sons Hall, hiring more police officers, increased support to arts and culture and the Purple Ribbon campaign.

“As we get set to vote on Nov. 19, there’s really only one question: has Courtenay improved in the past three years,” he said. “Absolutely. Let’s keep up the momentum with leadership skills and a philosophy that values diverse opinions and collaboration. I offer progressive leadership that will keep the city moving ahead.”

Affordable housing came up often during the forum, and candidates were asked what they consider to be affordable housing and what would they do to promote affordable housing when a developer brings forward a proposal to the city.

“Affordable housing and where that line exists for all of us is quite different,” said Bate. “What an exact number, an exact line in the sand would be, it’s different to each and every person.”

He believes that to attract people to the area, the City needs to create more incentives where there are additional opportunities.

“To have city-based housing would be an alternative, but, of course, there are a lot of costs associated with that,” he said.

Jangula felt the question should be put to the Valley’s federal and provincial representatives rather than municipal representatives.

He pointed to a housing development in the Dingwall area that was started by a partnership between the federal and provincial governments and is run by the Lions Club in which people’s rent is based on their income as an example of the type of development the city should be encouraging senior governments to do.

“But I think it’s very dangerous to assume that somehow we as municipal government are going to solve people’s homelessness problems,” he said. “It cannot be done under the municipal framework.”

Phelps believes Courtenay council has done a fair bit to address affordable housing, including securing affordable housing contributions from developers and providing land for Habitat for Humanity and bonus density incentives for developers, while the city can provide supportive transitional housing and emergency shelters — “where we fall woefully short.”

In answering the question, Phelps quoted writer and political satirist Stephen Colbert: “If this nation is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then just admit we don’t want to do it.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

Col. Bryn Elliott is the new wing commander of 19 Wing Comox. Photo submitted
New wing commander at 19 Wing Comox

The ceremony was presided over virtually by the commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.

Comox council voted to change the speed limit from 50 km/hr to 30 km/hr along a stretch of Lazo Road. Photo submitted
Speed limit change coming to Lazo Road in Comox

Racing, pedestrian safety issues presented to council

The new childcare centre on Denman Island opened in April. Photo, Comox Valley Schools
New Denman Island childcare facility opens

The facility offers 20 new licensed care spaces

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read