CVRD Q&As: Candidates’ expanded answers

Comox Valley Regional District: Director candidates - answers

  • Nov. 3, 2014 4:00 p.m.

2014 Municipal Election

COMOX VALLEY REGIONAL DISTRICT 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.

 

Would you support an increase in the number of small scale sustainable farms producing food for local consumption?

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

Yes.

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

Yes

 

AREA B Jim Gillis

Yes. Thirty percent of Vancouver Island farmland is in the Comox Valley; we must nurture and support it. Small sustainable farms should encourage younger farmers to get into farming and then we have to get our hospitals, schools and colleges to procure local food so we can support our local farmers. FEED Comox Valley is supported by Areas A, B & C with a $50,000 matching gas tax grant with the McConnell Foundation which is supporting ten such local procurement of food projects across Canada. This is the kind of support we should be getting from the Economic Development Society.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

Yes. I would support an increase in the number of small scale sustainable farms producing food for local consumption because there is a growing trend to ‘eat local’ and I believe that it is healthier for our communities as well as our bodies to do so. Some ways we might consider to support small scale sustainable farms include eliminating the surcharges for water use in order to lower production costs for the farmer, and/or giving farmers a reduced rate for their water use – similar to the land tax reduction for farm status.

 

AREA C James Derry

Yes. I can think of several small scale farms represented by the weekly Farmer’s Market, which everybody enjoys.

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

Yes of course. As part of the the Rural Official Community Plan, extensive consultation with the Agricultural community was undertaken.  Numerous stakeholder meetings were conducted with the farming community and policies compiled into a Agricultural Policy paper.  As much as 33% of all Agricultural Land Reserve on Vancouver Island is located in the Comox Valley and language from the ALC’s own policies were used as well.  The final version of our ODP captures all this and supports farming in the Comox Valley.

 

 

 

 

Is the widening of the Dove Creek Bridge a priority?

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

No

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

Yes. The province is already looking into this as it will improve access to the new hospital.

 

AREA B Jim Gillis

Yes. The one-way Bailey Bridge has to go. This is the access to the East side of Courtenay off the Inland Island Highway. The present mayor speaks of a bypass. Our “bypass” is the freeway at 120 kph to exit 130 and then down Dove Creek Road, over the four lane Dove Creek Bridge and into East Courtenay to the college, new hospital, big box stores, Air Force base, and the airport. With a new bridge and proper signage on the freeway this would relieve the traffic on Cliffe and the 17th Street Bridge.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

NO, at this point, I don’t see that the amount of traffic regularly crossing the Dove Creek Bridge warrants the financial investment required to widen it. There are many different access routes to the Dove Creek area, not just this one bridge.

 

AREA C James Derry

NO. Inconvenient at the moment, but not a priority.  It actually slows traffic down for the 90 degree bend.

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

Yes for many reasons. At a recent conference of the  “UNION OF B.C. MUNICIPALITIES”  the Mayor of Courtenay, our MLA Don McRae and myself as the Chair of the CVRD, sat down with MOTI Minister Todd Stone with pictures of the one lane “Bailey Bridge” that forms our “Northern Connecter” to the Vancouver Island Highway.  We explained that this was the connector most probably used to access our new Hospital as well as the C.V. Airport and BC Ferries to the mainland.

The minister turned to his executive assistant and said “This is a no brainer.”

 

 

Would you support tax increases to improve flood protection measures?

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

No. To answer anything but “no” to this question, I would need to know that flood protection measures are being considered.

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

There is already such a service in place the “Courtenay Drainage Service” ( HYPERLINK “http://www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/assets/Department/Documents/FIN_EASC_Courtenay_Flats_Drainage_Financial_Plan_Presentation_4Feb2013.pdf”http://www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/assets/Department/Documents/FIN_EASC_Courtenay_Flats_Drainage_Financial_Plan_Presentation_4Feb2013.pdf) and it is currently adequately funded and paid for by the small number of property owners in the service area. Other flood protection could be provided if those property owners who were affected by flood issues agree to the creation of a flood protection service area for their area. Again such protection would be paid for by the property owners who benefited from the service and only if they agreed to support such a service.

 

AREA B Jim Gillis

Yes. We need to do that with rainwater management laws, soft shores protection such as replanting of eel grass and eventually letting the Tsolum River wind its original way through the floodplain to the estuary. We will have to spend funds on reclaiming the Field Sawmill lands and bringing it back to its natural state, and creating an access for the Tsolum River by Superstore into its old floodplain. It will be money well spent considering the possible damages caused by future flooding.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

NO, the flood plains in the Regional District have not changed substantially in hundreds of years and those who have chosen to build within them have done so knowing that periodic flooding is a very real and distinct possibility.

 

AREA C James Derry

YES. If we are talking about protection of our bridges and transport systems for emergency services, absolutely.

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

No…because unlike the municipalities, all roads, ditches, bridges and supporting infrastructure in the Rural Areas are the purview of the Province. Although we work very closely with MOTI on many issues regarding “rainwater management,” our role is to advocate.  This being said, there is now much more shared information and collaboration between all four of our local governments and a understanding that water knows no boundries.

 

 

Should the CVRD consider purchasing the contentious Stotan Falls-area lot of land from the Nanaimo-based developers?

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

Yes. Provided it could be acquired for a reasonable price.

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

Yes. Only under the right conditions of the purchase. We need a net benefit to the residents of the Valley.

 

AREA B Jim Gillis

No. The 3L development is not supported by the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). The Puntledge River is the natural northern border for high density development. Both the current price and the future costs to taxpayers are too high to approve this project. Stotan Falls has been used by local people ever since it was given to Dunsmuir to put his railroad in 120 years or so ago. Those falls are a part of the Regional Parks plan and they will be there when it is the right time to access them in the future to establish a park.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

NO, I would not support the CVRD purchasing the Stotan Falls area because much time, energy, and finances have been expended developing a growth strategy plan that clearly deals with the Stotan Falls area and I would be reluctant to recommend overturning existing decisions at this time .

 

AREA C James Derry

NO. 3L has already offered to GIVE a large part of their area to CVRD, if they can reach some kind of approval.  Already part of their land is in the SEA.

AREA C Ed Grieve

Did not answer.

 

 

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

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

Yes. The current lack of accountability is untenable.

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

Yes. The public already has some say in who sits on the Board this however needs to be expanded.

 

AREA B Jim Gillis

No. The politicians should be removed from the board and a representative group of business people and environmental organizations should serve on the board. We need a board that is responsive to the business and environmental needs of the community. What attracts people to the Valley? It is lifestyle; and that is the environment and the myriad of ways that our residents work, play and live in their community. Bricks and mortar does not cut it for economic development. We need to enhance our environmental attractions and promote them.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

YES. I believe that any publicly funded organization should operate under the direction of a publicly elected board.

 

AREA C James Derry

YES. This could give some transparency to the CVEDS.

 

 

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

No. Through it’s own constitution and bylaws CVEDS has voting directors representing all three municipalities, the three Electoral Areas (A B &C) as well as Komox First Nations. The Society consults and reports out to senior staff and elected bodies as well as bringing forward a budget every year for approval at the CVRD Board

 

 

 

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

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

No

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

Yes. I personally support funding a homelessness initiative. However it will be the public who decide whether or not such a service is created. A regional district cannot provide such a service until it gets electoral ascent from its public. The current ballot question is the first step in this process. A subsequent step would be a binding referendum.

 

AREA B Jim Gillis

Yes. A modest increase in the mil rate would go a long way to helping the homeless. We have to work together on this problem. It can be done and it should be done. We had only one letter against providing funding for the homeless in our alternate approval process. Our citizens want to see the homeless looked after.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

NO. I do not see any advantage to creating another administrative function at the Regional District level to administer funds for the homeless. There are private organizations who deal very well with this issue and I believe that funding is better directed through them via our grants-in-aid function.

 

AREA C James Derry

Yes. Homeless is kind of a catch all phrase.  Do we really mean very low income, the vulnerable, those moving from couch to friend’s trailer?

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

Yes, a few dollars goes a long long way. With the Salvation Army, Dawn to Dawn, Waichai, Larche, Care-a-Van, Habitat and many other hardworking volunteer organizations working on the “Housing Continuum,”  there is a real need to bring together and co-ordinate efforts under one umbrella.  The risk is “burn-out” with so many organizations vying for the same scarce funding.  There is no one among us who hasn’t had a friend, family member, loved one in this situation.  Even $5.00 – $10.00 per year would help fund a “Social Planner” who, in turn, could leverage this into much needed government and private grants.

 

 

Is a new agricultural plan a priority?

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

No.

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

No. However I would consider a quick review to see if it does need updating before expending funds for a new plan.

AREA B Jim Gillis

No. We have just completed our agriculture/aquaculture OCP and there is plenty of room in these bylaws to protect, support and develop those industries.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

YES, I believe that a new agricultural plan is important and that it should be lead by the farmers, themselves.

 

AREA C James Derry

NO. I am not aware there is an agricultural plan.  Will have to research this one.

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

Yes, we have a new Ag. Policy in our new Rural Official Community Plan

 

Should there be an overhaul of CVED’s agricultural strategy, to include small-scale sustainable farming?

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

Yes, but it’s still not a priority.

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

Yes. I support small-scale sustainable farming. It is not clear to me how much of an overhaul would be needed.

 

AREA B Jim Gillis

No. They have done a reasonable job to date and they just have to tweak what they are doing and carry on supporting one of the Comox Valley’s first industries to keep it viable and growing. We need to sell our agricultural product locally and we need to create the distribution centre to do just that.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

YES, I think that the CVED’s agricultural strategy should be overhauled with input from the owners/operators of the small farms affected by it.

AREA C James Derry

YES. See Question #1 (for expanded answer)

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

Yes, both small scale and large scale commodity farming are encouraged.  As a Rural Director I have the benefit of having an Agriculture Advisory Panel  made up of both small and larger scale farmers.  With over 58,000 acres under production in the Comox Valley, farming makes up the largest industry providing “first dollar” economic development to the ares.

 

 

Do you believe that the Alternate Approval Process provides due diligence in seeking approval from the electors?

 

AREA A Wayne Anderson

No.

 

AREA A Bruce Jolliffe

In many cases it is appropriate. For example we recently decided to split Economic Enhancement Service serving Denman and Hornby Island into two services. This required electoral ascent. Everyone wanted this change. The result was a net saving to taxpayers. However where there is contention, such as in the establishment of a new service a referendum would be better.

AREA B Jim Gillis

Yes, if used with discretion. If for a particular reason we have to go to the Alternate Approval process we should have that avenue. However, the best way is to go to a referendum.

 

AREA B Rod Nichol

NO, I am absolutely opposed to the ‘Alternate Approval Process’ . I see it as being on par with negative billing – it’s a backhanded way to get what you want by taking advantage of public apathy.

 

AREA C James Derry

No. Public awareness needs to be increased so a possible rejection can be obtained, before approval is rubber stamped.

 

AREA C Ed Grieve

Yes and sometimes referendum. “Testing the waters” over issues is an important part of an elected officials obligations.  Of course, in the end,  we all face election.

 

 

 

 

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