Comox Q&As: Expanded answers from Mayoral cadidates

Town of Comox: Mayoral candidates - answers

  • Nov. 3, 2014 3:00 p.m.

2014 Municipal Election

TOWN OF COMOX CANDIDATES

 

Each candidate was emailed a slate of questions and asked to respond with a yes or no answer. They were also offered the option of expanding on their answers, which they were informed would be posted unedited here.

 

Candidates were given sufficient time to respond.

 

We asked the public to submit questions to us that they wanted us to ask the candidates. In no way do the ones that were selected represent all the issues and may not necessarily be the most important to the reader.

 

Voting is important and this year we are electing candidates to a 4-year term. It’s vital that you use all resources to help you make the right voting decision whether that’s reading our publications, contacting candidates directly, attending debates or using social media.

 

We would like to thank the public for your input and appreciate the candidates’ candid response to this format.

Mayoral Candidates

 

 

Are you in favour of expropriation of an easement on private waterfront properties for the creation of a public walkway?

 

 

Tom Grant

Expropriation of an easement in Comox on private waterfront for a public walkway:

The tactic of expropriation of private land is very complex and requires compensation to the land owner.  It is premature to ask  if I would be in favour of an expropriation tactic to obtain an easement before other key issues  have been investigated.  For example:  what is the scope of  the  project, has the Town engaged in a formal conversation with the land owners?  How much would this cost our taxpayers?  At this stage, study, consultation and budget planning would be the way forward.

 

Paul Ives

No.  Expropriation is a very expensive method of acquiring public rights of way. The Town has been following a long term plan to acquire pieces of the waterfront walkway, either through redevelopment or with consent of the landowner.  Riparian rights (access to foreshore) need to be respected by the Town and hopefully, on a long term basis, the Town will be able to acquire sufficient waterfront walkway rights.

 

 

Would you support tax deferrals or other incentive to encourage densification via secondary suites?

 

Tom Grant

No. At this time, I don’t see the value of the municipality engaging in such a tactic and would need to understand more about how this would be of benefit.

Paul Ives

No. We already have a policy whereby, through a simple building permit application, secondary suites can be constructed within an existing or new home.  That policy also requires owner occupation of the home or the secondary suite.  We have found this approach to be workable for most neighbourhoods.

 

Are you in favour of the private redevelopment of Baybrook House as an interpretive centre?

Tom Grant

No. Are  you  asking about private for profit or a not for profit society?  As the Town is an owner of this property, I am opposed to a private for profit interest on this property.  And further, the neighbourhood would need to be on board to move forward.

 

Paul Ives

No. Baybrook is situated on a midden and within close proximity to Brooklyn Creek. Costs to restore and maintain Baybrook would become a burden on the Town’s taxpayers.  It would be better for the Town to consider working with the adjacent neighbourhood and the Mack Laing Heritage Society on a proposal to construct an open-air pavilion-like structure that could be used to honour Baybrook’s role in the history of this area.  Town staff are working on a report to address issues around land use zoning, building code requirements, and legal concerns regarding use of current Mack Laing Will’s trust funds.

 

 

 

Are you in favour of tax incentives for businesses to address vitalization of the downtown core?

 

Tom Grant

Yes. Our Council has already voted to adopt a downtown development incentive plan.

Paul Ives

Yes.  Town council has approved an incentives bylaw in collaboration with Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) and with support from Comox Business in Action (BIA).  Council has identified a number of properties within the downtown core that could take advantage of this incentives plan, including the Comox Legion, Comox Centre Mall, and the Lorne Hotel site redevelopment project.

 

Would you be in favour of committing more of your municipality’s roadways to bike lanes?

Tom Grant

To answer thoughtfully, more information is needed.  Is there a demand or need for more bike lanes?  What is the scope of the project?  How would the bike lanes be funded?  Study, consultation and budget planning would be required.

 

Paul Ives

Yes.  As part of the Regional Sustainability Strategy, Regional Growth Strategy and Town Official Community Plan, we have committed to encouraging and fostering multi-modal transportation.  In the past number of years, we have utilized federal gas tax funding, 19 Wing Comox infrastructure funding, and provincial transportation funding to install bike lanes, traffic circles, sidewalks, crosswalks, etc.  A long range 20 year transportation study commissioned by the Town identifies any required infrastructure.

 

 

Do you support amalgamation of Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland?

 

Tom Grant

To answer thoughtfully, more information is needed. Amalgamation is a big issue that demands careful study before forming an opinion. The Chamber of Commerce is collecting signatures to request the Provincial Government conduct a comprehensive survey on our local governance.

 

Paul Ives

No.  Not at this time.  In 1999, Comox residents voted against amalgamation with Courtenay, largely to do with financial implications such as increased policing, debt service and infrastructure maintenance costs. Comox pays 70% towards policing costs as a community under 15,000.  Comox has very low debt in relation to Courtenay (less than $3million compared to over $20million). Comox has taken care of its infrastructure on a “pay as you go” basis to ensure sustainable and affordable taxes.  Any amalgamation of Comox with other communities in the Comox Valley would require a thorough assessment of costs and benefits and, if implemented by a majority vote of all communities, transition funding from the provincial government to alleviate the additional property tax burden that would, in all likelihood, fall on Comox’s taxpayers as a result of paying more for policing costs (90%), and more for debt servicing and infrastructure maintenance costs.

 

 

Should the board for the publicly-funded Comox Valley Economic Development Society be elected by the public?

 

Tom Grant

No. The governance model for CVEDS is working.  A portion of the funding for CVEDS comes from the Town of Comox and our elected officials vote as part of the overall Town Budget each year.

 

 

 

Paul Ives

No.  Comox Valley elected officials already sit on the board of CVEDS, along with other non-elected representatives.  Several service/contract reviews have been done to support this hybrid governance structure, and there are mechanisms in place to ensure CVEDS accountability to all local taxpayers.

 

 

 

Would you support an increase in property taxes in order to assist in the homelessness situation in the Comox Valley?

 

 

Tom Grant

There is a question on this year’s election ballot and each citizen will be able to answer this question directly.

 

Paul Ives

No.  Property taxes represent only 8 cents out of every tax dollar paid by Comox residents.  The other 92 cents goes to federal and provincial governments through sales, income and capital taxation.  There is a role for the Town to play in regards to housing affordability through working with developers and non profit groups – e.g., Dawn to Dawn, Habitat for Humanity, Transition Society, Salvation Army and Wachiay Friendship Ctr.

 

 

 

Are housing solutions solely a municipal responsibility?

 

Tom Grant

No. In Canada, housing solutions are a shared responsibility with CMHC federally and BC Housing provincially taking their share of the load.

 

 

 

Paul Ives

No. Housing is a multi-jurisdictional issue; however, Town’s primary role is around land use planning.

 

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