Courtenay Q&As

City of Courtenay: Expanded answers from Options supplement

  • Nov. 4, 2014 7:00 p.m.

2014 Municipal Election

CITY OF COURTENAY 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?

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

Maple Pool Campground is a private ongoing business and as such provincial legislation prevents using tax dollars to enhance a specific business. As a Council; we have committed to undertake a unilateral rezoning of the property and have suspend legal proceedings to allow the Friends of Maple Pool to address the outstanding concerns. This allows time for the Friends to undertake the work that they have committed to complete and provide the opportunity to find a workable solution for the residents.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

Yes – to stopping lawsuit; No – to spending taxpayers dollars

 

 

 

David Frisch

Yes. Every time city staff work on something, they are spending tax dollars. I believe that we can better spend tax dollars by working towards a solution to allow Maple Pool Campground to continue doing business. I would rather work toward a solution, than continue to spend tax dollars on a team of lawyers.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

It would be a significant precedent to provide tax dollars to a private business, no matter how worthy their enterprise. I support an out of court settlement whereby City staff work with the land owners towards a solution that protects the residents and taxpayer liability. I still believe we can find that compromise.

 

 

 

George Knox

Yes, not overnight but with a developed dedicated plan.

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

Once again this question brings me back to the point that Maple Pool is over shadowing bigger issues, such as our need for affordable housing and an emergency shelter. Using taxpayers money to help an individual business is illegal. While the Lins offer a much needed service it is still a business. While I don’t think it should have gone to court, I believe that the citizens of Courtenay should not have to foot the bill should the emergency services have to be dispatched to Maple Pool a third time. The City of Courtenay has offered to start the rezoning process, if the Lins will sign a waiver claiming all responsibility of their private business and land. It is of the utmost importance to our community to have this issue resolved as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

Yes. As I go door to door the message I’m hearing is from you is clear. END the court case regarding Maple pool. I fully AGREE. We must work together with the property owners and the community members that have offered personal time,resources and skills in order to help. I firmly believe together we can create a safer environment for the residents that enjoy living at Maple Pool. In my opinion an in kind contribution of city staff time, expertise and guidance. I feel this is a more appropriate community investment,rather than tax payer dollars being used in order to achieve compliance.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

At this point there has been no request from Maple Pool or the Friends Of Maple Pool for public funds to pay for any improvements. I beleive the time, energy and funds that have been wasted on the lawsuit could be better used finding a collaborative solution to homelessness in the Comox Valley.  Although council has postponed the lawsuit to try and work out a solution, it is impossible to find the best possible resolution when many options are off the table as they are part of the ongoing lawsuit.  Ending the lawsuit is the first step in allowing for a truly collaborative solution.

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

Maple Pool is privately owned, therefore legally I could not commit to spending taxpayer’s money on this property.  I do appreciate the fact that private enterprise has stepped up to the plate to help our most vulnerable citizens and sincerely hope that, working with Mr. Hamilton and his team, we will come to a satisfactory resolution soon.  This is a very complex issue with no simple solutions unfortunately.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

At this time “NO”; we have recently completed the Master Transportation Plan that indicates we will need to address a crossing by 2040. This assumption is tied directly to population projections and modes of transportation utilized. The cost of a third crossing would currently be largely borne by the citizens of Courtenay regardless of who uses it. With this in mind we have to be responsive to leveraging funds from all sources and working with the Comox Valley as a whole to address our transportation infrastructure.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

No. If we ever do build another bridge, it should be after we phase out the large boats that berth in the Slough.  There would then be cost savings as to the type of bridge we would need to build.  It may also be easier to deal with environmental issues if it is decided to build a bridge further into the estuary (29th street, for example).

 

 

 

David Frisch

As I drive around town, I rarely find myself in unreasonable traffic of any kind. Considering the extremely high cost of such a project, I feel it would be wise to ask ourselves: How might we avoid the cost of a third crossing?

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

Probably not for many years. It would be a huge cost in dollars and to the environment. I would prefer that we invest in reducing traffic through increasing transit ridership, carpooling initiatives and support for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, including a pedestrian bridge.

 

 

 

George Knox

No. Where is the research to warrant this?

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

I don’t think it should fall on Courtenay financially to build a bridge that would serve all of the Comox Valley and visitors, as this would be a huge cost. Our estuary is a highly sensitive ecological area, it is a First Nations heritage site, IBA (Important bird area) and plays a huge part in the salmon runs. We need to protect it, not cause greater damage. Increasing public transport and supporting alternative means of travel, will help avoid having to build expensive infrastructure. Alternative means of transportation also improve health and air quality, and sense of community .

 

 

 

Manno Theos

I am NOT prepared to spend over 35 million of tax payers dollars on a third bridge at this time. As growth continues a third bridge in the correct location may be of  higher priority.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

At this point a third crossing seems like a necessity, but not in the immediate future.  There are other options to help alleviate traffic on 5th and 17th street bridges such as a northern connector on Dove Creek Road and upgrading the bridge from one lane to two.  A third bridge is an undertaking that will require a lot of time to research and public consultation before making a decision on when and where.

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

City of Courtenay Master Transportation Study was recently completed, and it was not recommended that a third crossing over the estuary is required at this time.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

Any and all options must be on the table when discussing our Transportation Plan. As with most issues there are multiple points of contact that have to be addressed. The needs of all of our citizens have to be addressed. This means that as we continue our road upgrades we have to be open to looking at the appropriateness of bike lanes and the cost of implementing these additions. The Cycling coalition has identified routes that are most in need and these priorities have been identified. Where appropriate I have and will continue to support infrastructure changes that advance our Plan

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

Yes

 

 

 

David Frisch

Cycling infrastructure is proven to be the most cost effective way to reduce traffic and transportation costs. Furthermore, alternative transportation creates stronger economies and more resilient communities. While I drive a car, I also use other methods of transport, as do my children and grandparents. We must provide infrastructure for all people.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

I favour the complete streets approach advocated in our 25 year transportation plan, whereby we incrementally make our streets safe and effective for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. This is what is happening in cities large and small all over the world.  We are committed to increasing ridership, and more people will ride if they feel safe, thus the need for dedicated bike lanes. Courtenay has many roads wide enough to accommodate bike lanes, and the response to the Fitzgerald lanes has been very positive, with virtually no complaints.

 

 

 

George Knox

Yes. Again with a dedicated plan.

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

Yes. For the cost involved it is a simple solution to help with traffic problems, safety concerns and the overall health of our city. As noted in question 2 it has many benefits of long term financial savings for the taxpayers, healthy city living and strong communities.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

Yes. Really depends on if the location makes sense. Also on the costs and benefits.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

Yes

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

I’m in favour of any measures taken to increase the safety for people on bikes.  I recognize that people of all ages ride bikes, it is becoming more popular every year, and we must provide the infrastructure to ensure safety for bikers, pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

The use of tax deferrals in this case is not the appropriate tool to use. I do believe that there is room to look at the utility fees that are charged to secondary suites given their relative small size. The reality is that the provision of secondary suites has a net benefit to both the home owner and the rental market. The secondary suite allows for the rental income to be used in qualification for mortgages addressing affordability. While the addition of available accommodation takes pressure off existing housing stock.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

No.

 

 

 

David Frisch

Yes. In fact, tax deferrals are likely unnecessary to promote densification in downtown Courtenay. Changes to our bylaws and zoning, and making the application process simpler will provide the incentive.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

I support infill development and densification, while maintaining the character of our neighbourhoods. Staff are reviewing our secondary suites policy and I would support research on the potential impact of incentives towards the goal of increasing our affordable housing stock.

 

George Knox

Why are we supporting secondary suites? Densification is part of the overall plan.

 

Rebecca Lennox

There are currently some incentives in place, however rezoning is still a requirement. I would like the City to be exploring through local area planning, how to accommodate affordable housing within neighborhoods.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

No

 

 

 

Bob Wells

Yes

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

The City of Courtenay has reduced the re-zoning fee from $3,000 to $500 for anyone wishing to re-zone to accommodate a secondary suite.  This reduction is consistent with our Affordable Housing Policy.  I am very much in favour of increasing density, particularly in our downtown core, and support any reasonable measures to accomplish this.

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

I have committed to do what we can to support the creation of supportive housing in our community. We have worked hard to advocate with the Minister of Housing to source the necessary capital and operational funding required for providing these services in the community. There is a clear need and we are close to an agreement to make it happen.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

Yes

 

 

 

David Frisch

In principle, I am in favour of supporting those in need of assistance. However, the Braidwood project is far too complicated to sum up with a simple yes/no.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

I supported the original plan for a supportive housing/shelter project on Cliffe and it distresses me that four years have passed and we still haven’t built any social housing. I endorse the Braidwood project as long as we can assure sufficient support is built in to make it safe and effective for the residents and for the neighbourhood.

 

 

George Knox

We need to take a stand, move forward, and deal with the issues. Housing is the most important factor in managing homelessness.

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

Yes. We need to support many kinds of housing solutions.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

Yes. The Braidwood housing project along with ending the Maple Pool lawsuit are the two most important issues facing the new council. I believe we are close to success on the Braidwood project. I’m very excited about the impact this housing will have on many at risk people throughout the community.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

Yes

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

I am on record as supporting the construction of this project, partnering with BC Housing, Island Health, and other local agencies.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

The City has to be clear what its responsibilities are and what its mandate is to provide services. This is one area that is clearly rests with the Province, which is why I have advocated with the Minister to provide the much needed operational funding in our community in a timely manner.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

No

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

It has never been suggested by anyone that the City should cover operating costs for social housing. We simply do not have the resources to do so. The Braidwood project and hopefully additional much needed housing projects will be operated by a housing organization such as the Transition Society, Dawn to Dawn, M’Akola, the Salvation Army, Wachiay, etc. The operating costs will need to come from federal and provincial funding, where the responsibility appropriately rests, along with rental revenue.

 

 

 

George Knox

We need to partner with the federal and provincial governments. We all need to take responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

The tax that individuals pay (in income tax) to the provincial and federal government has not gone down, but services have been cut. Including funding for operating supportive housing. The more off loading that comes from the higher levels of government, the more pressure is put on Local Government to fill the void. I see a lot of support in the community for such a project and i think it is a matter for local Government to harness that energy to build new partnerships and innovative solutions.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

No. We provide the land and the plan.The role of senior Gov’t is to provide Capital and operating resources. That’s what makes it a partnership.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

This is a project that would be for the entire Comox Valley, not just Courtenay.  As such, operating costs should be shared amongst the municipalities as well as Provincial and Federal governments.  A proper supportive housing complex would not just be beds, but also the services that go along to support those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.  I think that a lot of money has been spent studying the problem and the time is now to take action.

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

I am not in favour of Courtenay citizens paying for the operating costs of this project.  This is the mandate of both senior levels of government, not the City of Courtenay citizens.

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

As the Council Liaison to the Downtown Business Improvement Association I’m acutely aware of the need for this type of stimulus. As part of a total package I do support the use of tax incentives to address this issue. This method has been utilized in countless municipalities with great success. If government wants to spur a particular type of redevelopment; it has to do what it can to enhance the economic viability of these types of projects. I have been working with CVEDS and Staff to develop a program that would be clearly defined and have targeted areas that would receive this type of stimulus to keep our Downtown vibrant and relative to all of our citizens

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

Yes

 

 

 

David Frisch

Yes. The revitalization of Downtown will provide a stronger tax base for our city. It will attract new business and citizens. This is vitally important important to the long term health of our community.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

The City has been working on this, with input from the Downtown Business Association, the Economic Development Society and others. I’m willing to consider any creative initiatives that improve the viability of downtown commerce, including mixed zoning and incentives to build housing in the downtown core. I also support promoting the downtown by improving the ambience and staging events that make downtown a happening place that attracts people.

 

 

 

George Knox

We need an overall plan. Bringing in business is part of the plan but we must not neglect our public responsibilites (health care, seniors, infrastructure).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

While it is hard to lose any money on our tax revenue It is getting to a point where something must be done to help the downtown core. In the long run tax incentives could even out so I would be in favour. I would really like to see new, green businesses getting more support. the technology and eco tourism sectors can offer long term environmentally friendly jobs and we desperately need more of these types of opportunities.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

Yes. Tax incentives are absolutely needed in order to attract greater investment in Courtenay’s historic Downtown. I believe we need a mix of residential and commercial business for downtown to be progressive and sustainable. If DCC’s costs or parking requirements are needed to be reduced. I’m prepared to do what it takes to enhance the heart of Courtenay.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

Yes. There needs to be a clear vision with metrics to measure success in place.  Often money is spent (or in the is case not collected) but it is unclear what the outcomes are supposed to be and more often not measured in a timely fashion to see if the program is successful or needs tweaking.

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

The City of Courtenay Staff are presently working on a policy for revitalization tax exemptions which will enable Council to encourage various types of revitalization.   This program is outlined in Section 226 (Part 7, Division 7) of the Community Charter and provides many options, up to a maximum term of 10 years.  If elected, I will be very supportive of this policy coming forward to Council.

 

 

 

Do you support amalgamation of Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland?

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

I support the Governance Review that is currently underway and will support it when it comes to council. The biggest advantage of an amalgamated area is the voice it provides when dealing with higher levels of government. A 65,000 strong voice has a greater impact then three smaller ones. The information that the governance review will provide is the first step that will allow all residents of the Comox Valley to determine the best possible options when it comes time to decide our future.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

Yes – and regional district. he time for multiple governments in the Comox Valley has passed.  Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland will never disappear as communities in a united Comox Valley government, just as Black Creek, Merville, Royston, Union  Bay, etc didn’t disappear as communities when Regional districts were formed.  But, we are all closer together now, and therefore, I think it is time for a change.  Services should be coordinated better and we should speak with one voice to access programs provided by senior levels of governments.

 

 

 

David Frisch

I support the Governance Review proposed by the Chamber of Commerce to gather information on the efficiency of our service delivery.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

It seems probable this area will eventually become a district municipality, but many are wary of losing rural values and risking further sprawl in that process. It is also likely that taxes will increase as infrastructure upgrades would be required in many areas of a Comox Valley municipality. Given the number of years since amalgamation was defeated by referendum, I would not oppose a provincial study on the economics and environmental/social impacts of such a proposal. Regardless of that process, I think it vital that we continue working in co-operation with our neighbours to share services where practical.

 

 

 

George Knox

What are the benefits of amalgamation? Is it in the best interests of the public?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

If the citizens of the Comox Valley really want to start studying this again then as a councillor I would support opening the conversation. However from all the research I have done, I have not found an instance where it saves the taxpayer money. I also feel that each has it’s own direction and needs, but would like to see more support and camaraderie between all three.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

Yes. I’m all for finding the best efficiencies in order to not waste tax dollars. I believe Cumberland has wanted to retain it’s status in the past. Adding parts of the regional district may be more realistic.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

Yes. I am hopeful that the Governance review goes forward so that we can have the data to make sure that any form of amalgamation makes good economic, social and environmental sense.  I am aware that the process will not be quick or without consequences, but with proper planning it could help the Comox Valley tackle larger issues like homelessness and have centralized services like Fire Protection.

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

I support the Province of British Columbia initiating an independent Governance Review of the Comox Valley so that collectively we can determine what the best form of governance is that will efficiently provide the resources and services we require.  Our Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce has undertaken to present a petition with 5,000 signatures and I fully support their efforts.

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

They currently are a contract service provider that provides economic development functions in the Comox Valley. The service level provided is dictated by the terms of the contract which is voted and approved by the elected officials on the CVRD board. CVEDS is a not for profit Society governed under the Society’s Act. Their board composition and membership is dictated by their Letters Patent. The board is comprised of elected officials from each of the municipalities and each of the Electoral Areas is represented as well as the K’omoks First Nation. The remaining seven directors come from various business sectors in the Comox Valley.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

No. The Society should be more accountable to municipal government, but not  separately elected.

 

 

 

David Frisch

Yes. Absolutely

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

The EDS is an important organization with a vital mandate and a very significant investment of tax dollars, but there is considerable dissent about the approach it takes. I don’t know that a publically elected board is the way to go but would like to see a broader conversation about how we make the EDS board more representative and accountable.

 

 

 

George Knox

No. The elected council should be trusted to choose the experts to assist with the overall plan.

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

Yes.  I support any changes that bring more accountability to the public.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

No

 

 

 

Bob Wells

Yes.

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

Comox Valley Economic Development Society recently completed a governance review, and the board now consists of six elected officials, six individuals from the private sector, and one voting member from Comox First Nation.  I think this is an effective governance model, mixing private sector leaders in our community with elected officials and First Nation to deliver effective Economic Development for the Comox Valley.

 

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

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

On a personal level; yes as long as the money is spent addressing the lack of available housing stock. While studies are important we have studied this issue enough and it is time for action. Using short term contracts for planning staff for project management makes sense but the majority of the money has to go to solutions and not for administrative costs for me to support it.

 

 

 

Erik Eriksson

Yes. We need to join together as one municipality so we can speak with one voice to senior levels of government which provide most of the funding for housing.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

It is unfortunate that we are in this situation, which results from the federal and provincial governments abdicating their responsibility for housing. We need a national housing strategy and proactive senior government action to address the housing crisis. Municipalities and social agencies should not have to go begging cap in hand for the resources to house vulnerable people. Yet this situation is getting worse, so what do we do?

Local governments do not currently have the resources, financial or otherwise, to organize housing projects, and local agencies cannot get adequate funding without municipal support to provide land. The Regional District is asking us if we would be willing to contribute an additional 5 – 10 dollars to address this situation. I think most people would say yes if they knew there was a clear plan but, in the absence of a plan, I fear the plebicite will be defeated and we will continue to spin our wheels.

I would prefer that the Regional District had advanced a plan, for example to fund a social planner attached either to the RD or to a community agency. The planner’s function would be to co-ordinate the efforts of our housing advocates and to work with the development community and leverage federal and provincial funding to build creative projects to provide housing for low income working people and those who are on the streets due to addiction and mental illness.

 

 

 

George Knox

I believe we should share the responsibility with the federal and provincial governments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Lennox

This is a question that is being put to the public on November 15th. Although it is unfortunate that is a very vague question it is one that has been decided will be on a ballot. The problem with homelessness will unfortunately probably continue to rise as the cost of living does. We are already paying more than $10 a year in regards to homelessness through costs such as policing, park maintenance and bylaw enforcement.

For the problem of homelessness to be helped it takes recognizing that many of them were people just like you and I.  The City budget has to be balanced in a way that serves all members our community.

 

 

 

Manno Theos

That question is on the ballot. Let the people inform us.

 

 

 

Bob Wells

I am not in favour of simply throwing money at the problem.  However, I think a comprehensive solution could have a positive impact that would save more money in the long run that it costs.

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

Funding for the property  recently purchased on Braidwood Avenue to construct a supportive housing project was shared equally amongst all citizens in the Comox Valley.    Moving forward, I would like to ensure that any costs relating to homelessness are shared in the same manner, as Homelessness has no boundaries.  We must also continue to strongly lobby our Provincial and Federal governments to do their share as Municipalities simply cannot afford any more downloading of responsibilities.

 

Are housing solutions solely a municipal responsibility?

 

 

 

Mayor Candidates

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Councillor Candidates

 

 

 

Bill Anglin

Providing solutions is not even remotely a sole responsibility of municipalities. The Federal and Provincial Governments are responsible through their lead agencies that already exist. We can however work collectively with them to ensure that the needs are being met and to advocate on behalf our less fortunate residents.

 

Erik Eriksson

No

 

 

 

David Frisch

No. Housing solutions should be a joint effort with the federal government. If a solution is only at the municipal level, we will see a shift of demand from one area with poor services to another with better services. A municipal only scenario will create a disincentive to deal with housing issues. We must lobby higher governments for assistance. We do, however, have a moral obligation to do what we can with what resources we can afford.

 

 

 

Doug Hillian

The municipality has a role to play, for example through zoning policy encouraging secondary suites, carriage homes, alley flats, etc. As stated above however, local municipalities like Courtenay do not have the resources to build housing. The federal and provincial governments need to step up and acknowledge what we all know, that it is costing us more to leave people on the streets that it would to build decent housing. With a national housing strategy, the municipality can be a viable partner to develop solutions. Meanwhile, we must do what we can through local planning, provision of land where appropriate and collaboration with our housing agency partners to access such limited federal/provincial funding as is available.

 

 

 

George Knox

No. There needs to be partnerships, but we might as councillors take the lead as we are on the ground to see what is needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manno Theos

No

 

 

 

Bob Wells

No

 

 

 

Starr Winchester

Housing solutions are the responsibility of all levels of government.  Each level has a role to play, and working together, we can achieve great results.  Partnerships with such agencies as Habitat for Humanity, Dawn to Dawn, Women’s Transition Society, Salvation Army and many more can make an incredible difference if we all work together.  We have seen such results in Courtenay, but we still have work to do.

 

 

 

 

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