Hamir brings agriculture to the Comox Valley Regional District forefront

Air quality also high on priority list for new Area B director

Arzeena Hamir said it took a lot of door-knocking to come away with the Comox Valey Regional District Area B victory.

Hamir ousted incumbent Rod Nichol to become the new director for Area B, in the tightest race of all the CVRD electoral districts.

Hamir knew, going into the campaign, that she was up against a popular politician, in Nichol. When Nichol won the seat in 2014, he did so in convincing fashion, defeating incumbent Jim Gillies with 72 per cent of the vote.

“I knew that, but for me, it was also important just to run,” said Hamir. “To have someone acclaimed in Area B was just not acceptable to me. And I also thought there was not as much support for agriculture as there should be, considering much of Area B – at least half of it – is farms. So that was my impetus to run.”

She said while she is well-known in the farming community, she realized in order to have a successful campaign, she would have to introduce herself to much of the non-farming electorate in the constituency.

“I had to spend a considerable amount of time in the more developed areas of Area B… I knew many people in parts of Area B, especially on the Comox side of Area B, didn’t know me. So I made a concerted effort to go out and knock on doors.”

She said the turning point of the entire election was the all candidates’ forum at Dove Creek Hall, Oct. 16.

“I knew there would be a lot of resistance to some of my ideas, from a few people in the room, and I think I kind of convinced a few people there,” she said. “I think I got across my passion for agriculture and to me, that night was like ‘OK, if nothing else, at least my ideas are out there.’ Now we can start working on them.”

One crucial campaign stance was Hamir’s opposition to the Agriplex project.

“I think that was a big moment for me,” she said. “Even though knowing my stance was not going to win me many points in this crowd, it was one of the reasons I ran. When I heard about this project, [it’s] very frightening. So I felt I had to stand up and give an alternative vision… a possible food and farming hub that everyone could get behind, instead of [a project] more geared towards ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.’ ”

Hamir said her first priority as a member of the CVRD board will be to address the air quality issue in the Comox Valley.

“We are coming into wood-burning season, and I know from door-knocking, that was a huge issue,” she said. “It wasn’t even part of my platform – I didn’t even think about that. But when it became quite apparent what people were saying, it needs to be addressed. So I would really like to set up a task force, or a community advisory group that looks at air quality in the Comox Valley.”

For Hamir, being an elected official is a new experience.

“Definitely a first time for me,” she said Sunday, after ”sleeping super-soundly” for the first time in weeks, Saturday night. “I’ve never even run in an election before. I have sat on a number of boards, but have never been elected.”

As for the added responsibilities, Hamir said her work ethic, as a farmer, will guide her through.

“We [farmers] know how to multi-task. That’s all I can say.”



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

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Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. She said a lack of support for the agricultural community was one of the main reasons she entered the election. Farmers now have a voice on the Comox Valley Regional District board, as Arzeena won the Area B vote. Photo by Bill Jorgensen

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