Courtenay Q&As: Mayoral candidates’ extended answers

City of Courtenay: Mayoral candidates - answers

  • Nov. 3, 2014 9:00 a.m.

2014 Municipal Election

CITY OF COURTENAY 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.

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

As opposed to spending money on a lawsuit, would you approve of taxpayer dollars being spent helping to bring the Maple Pool Campground into compliance with zoning regulations?

Jon Ambler

Yes. Courtenay Council has committed to proceeding with a unilateral rezoning application, at taxpayers’ expense, and to suspend legal action until the New Year. This is intended to provide time for the property owners to either meet flood construction and provincial guidelines, or prove that the land may be used safely for the use intended. This must include a commitment by the property owners to ensure that their rented units meet the minimum safety standards for residential use.

 

Larry Jangula

I am strongly in favour of ending the Maple Pool lawsuit but unfortunately am unable to answer yes or no to whether taxpayer dollars should be spent to bring Maple Pool into compliance with zoning regulations. Their property may very well already be compliant as “legally non-conforming” and therefore there would be no expense to the City of Courtenay.

 

 

Is Courtenay in need of a third crossing over the estuary?

Jon Ambler

Yes. The 25 year Master Transportation Plan proved we will need a third crossing over the river by 2040, by which time the population of the Comox Valley will be over 100,000. The need to build it can be slightly delayed within that time period, however, if we invest in other modes of transport: walking, cycling and transit.

Larry Jangula

Again, this question assumes that a third crossing would require the encroachment of the estuary. I am in support of the much needed third crossing but much work and study as well as public involvement will need to be done before a proposal is brought forward.

 

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

Jon Ambler

Yes. Increasing bike lanes improves traffic flow for everyone, cars included. It also creates a healthier population, and our health care bill is staggering.

Larry Jangula

This also is not a simple yes or no question. The City has added to it’s bike lane system but before expansion can take place we need to identify and prioritize which corridors should be considered/included and how the funding will be provided to create them.

 

 

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

 

Jon Ambler

No. I don’t see why such incentives would be necessary. The tax increase when adding a secondary suite that does not increase the overall size of the house is minimal (the actual amount is calculated by BC Assessment). If one compares that minimal tax increase to the average rent for a one bedroom suite in Courtenay, which is on the order of $600 to $800 a month, the revenue possible from a secondary suite is far greater than the increase in costs from municipal taxes. There is an increase in annual costs due to the extra municipal services needed by the residents of the secondary suite: typically they would be around $800 a year. The greatest single obstacle to encouraging densification by approving secondary suites occurs when the affected neighbours attend public hearings and vehemently oppose the rezoning.

 

Larry Jangula

No. I do not support providing tax incentives to private property owners to provide additional income or increase their property value at the expense of the others.

 

 

Are you in favour of the construction of the proposed Braidwood supportive housing project?

 

Jon Ambler

Yes. The need is clear, and I believe Canadians are compassionate and caring. This issue transcends municipal borders, and requires a Comox Valley wide initiative, supported by higher levels of government.

Larry Jangula

Yes. I have worked hard to get the project to it’s present stage and commit to work hard with our Provincial Government to see it become reality.

 

Are you in favour of the city taking responsibility for the operating costs of such a project?

 

Jon Ambler

No. The City must operate within its mandate as defined by law (The Community Charter) which does not include covering such operating costs. The City can, however, be a leader and champion in approaching the Federal Government and Provincial Government, BC Housing etc. to get the necessary resources for an appropriate operating agency to run the project.

 

Larry Jangula

No. All long term funding to provide the services and support of this facility are clearly a responsibility of our Provincial Government.

 

 

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

Jon Ambler

Yes. This can be a powerful tool, but there are many other things a Mayor can do to support the downtown core. The key here is for the Mayor to be the leader, the champion, the cheerleader and the ambassador for our downtown. Finally, our downtown core includes shops, stores, restaurants, banks etc, however it is also the heart of our vibrant arts and culture community. Our museum, art gallery, theatre, community halls, library and public assembly areas are all part of the downtown core. All of these need supporting and encouraging, which includes supporting events that fill our streets. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts!

Larry Jangula

Yes. It is important to me to have a healthy and vibrant City core. I have worked hard over the last three years to help make that happen. City supported initiatives need to be undertaken in partnership with all of the stakeholders and should be results based.

 

Do you support amalgamation of Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland?

Jon Ambler

Yes. I believe local governance in the whole Comox Valley should be reviewed by an independent study to establish the facts of how the present structure is operating, and what can be done to restructure our local governments to be more efficient in delivering services to citizens.  A thorough study may develop a number of better options than only amalgamation of the three municipalities or the status quo. The potential exists for a new, greater community local government, but one that is structured to maintain the individual character of the three municipalities. Elsewhere, ward systems have proven ideal for this, with representation of each municipal community guaranteed.

Larry Jangula

Unfortunately, this question is premature. The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce has undertaken the task to ask the Provincial Government to conduct a thorough study of our current Valley governance model and provide valuable facts, data and recommendations concerning how to, if necessary improve and/or change it. Until we receive that information it would be premature to make a final decision. I have signed the petition which the Chamber of Commerce is circulating to have a study done on Governance in the Comox Valley.

 

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

Jon Ambler

No. The CVEDS is a not-for-profit agency established by the CVRD Board, all of whose members are already elected. Furthermore, the local government representatives on the CVEDS Board itself are either elected, or directly appointed by their associated and elected Councils or Boards.

Larry Jangula

No. We have been extremely well served by a voluntary board for many years and I see no reason to change it.

 

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

Jon Ambler

Yes. Once again, the need is clear, and I believe Courtenay residents are compassionate and caring. This issue transcends municipal borders, and requires a Comox Valley wide initiative. We are all paying a lot of money on issues resulting from homelessness, such as health care and crime, we would be better off to spend money on prevention of homelessness, rather than dealing with its aftermath.

Larry Jangula

This question will be asked on the ballot by the CVRD. I put great value on what our community and taxpayer wishes are and am very interested to see the result of that non-binding referendum question.

 

Are housing solutions solely a municipal responsibility?

Jon Ambler

No. Under Canada’s Constitution both the Federal Government and the Provincial Government have established Ministries and Agencies with shared responsibility for housing the vulnerable. These Ministries and Agencies are funded by the taxpayers. Courtenay Council must effectively champion our concerns and bring those resources to our community.

Larry Jangula

No. In the hierarchy of government the municipalities are neither the primary or secondary partner. These positions fall to the Federal and Provincial governments. At the municipal level the financial responsibility will vary proportionate with the size of the problem. Their primary role concerns zoning issues and/or deferment or exemption of property taxation.

 

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