Cumberland Coun. Jesse Ketler is the new chair of the Comox Valley Regional District board.
Directors elected her over fellow nominees David Frisch and Edwin Grieve, directors for Courtenay and Area C respectively, Tuesday at the inaugural CVRD board meeting.
Ketler replaces Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells as chair of the board. Area B director Arzeena Hamir was elected vice-chair.
Following Tuesday’s vote, the board affirmed its four strategic drivers — fiscal responsibility, climate crisis/environmental stewardship and protection, community partnerships and First Nations relations — “lenses through which we will deliver and administer our services,” Ketler said.
“When it comes to the climate crisis, I would like to see us act with urgency without re-inventing the wheel. So recognizing the serious impact that climate change has on our local systems — infrastructure, water, food — but at the same time acknowledging the limited resources and capacity we have to address the issue at the local government level. In order to do this, we will need to keep informed about how governments, local and others, are addressing the climate issue and take on the emerging best practices that are applicable to our region. We will also need to advocate for support from upper levels of government for the new initiatives that will help us address the crisis.
“We are all stewards of the land, air and water of this valley,” Ketler added. “But the members of this board are particularly so, and in taking on that responsibility, we need to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers, and we need to seek knowledge through partnership with others. A key partner in the region is the K’ómoks First Nation people, whose ancestors have stewarded these lands since time immemorial. In an effort to continue to build relationships and foster cultural understanding, the board would benefit from familiarizing ourselves with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”
Along with recognizing traditional territories, Ketler would like to add one of the 46 articles contained in UNDRIP to start board meetings.
“Each meeting will have a different article that will help us reflect on the principles and help guide us in our decision-making.”