For the third straight term, the Comox Valley Regional District Area B will have a new director – the first-ever Indigenous director for the CVRD.
Arzeena Hamir lost her seat to Richard Hardy by 23 votes – 766 to 743. The third candidate for Area B, Keith Stevens, garnered 89 votes. (Results unofficial as of press time.)
For Hardy, getting a First Nation voice on the board was a main motivating factor in his decision to run.
“The commitment from the Comox Valley Regional District, regarding reconciliation with the K’ómoks First Nation (is important), and to me, reconciliation means inclusion from the CVRD side of things, but also from the KFN perspective… we need to be participants and be part of that inclusion, and be involved in the process.
“So I went to (KFN) Chief and Council and said this is what my feelings are, and they said, ‘yeah, we should do that,’ so they pointed the finger at me and said… ‘good luck.’”
Hardy said there was some confusion as to the eligibility of KFN members to run or even vote in the municipal election.
“That was one of the things I researched back in June – whether or not I could even run as a CVRD director, and the other question from a K’ómoks First Nation perspective was whether the K’ómoks First Nation had the ability to vote for an Area B director. A lot of us didn’t know we could participate in the process, either running or even voting. So it was a real eye-opener for the K’ómoks First Nation, at the end of the day.”
He said that while he leaned on his First Nation family for support, he made sure to campaign throughout the area.
“Wherever there were doors, I went and knocked on them,” he said.
The 2022 election brought out some adverse campaigning, and while Hardy was the victim of one attack ad in particular, he said he tried not to let that tactic bother him.
“I know there was a lot of divisiveness within the Valley – smear campaigning, kind of like Trump stuff… but I just chose not to go down that road. I just tried to stay focused on what it is that I bring to the table, and not focus at all on what other people were doing or saying. I just stayed in my own lane.”
“I was born and raised here in the Comox Valley, so I care very much for the Comox Valley.”
Giving back to the community runs in the Hardy family.
“My father received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his 48 years of community service. So watching him over the years, I will never come close to the service he did for our community, but with that being said, it must be in the gene pool.”
Hardy said he could not have done this without a large group of supporters.
“There are so many people to thank – all my friends who helped me through the campaign process, family members, friends – I really have to give a shout-out to everyone who helped me through this process.”
There was a 23 per cent voter turnout in Area B.
Other electoral area results
The incumbents in the other two areas retained their seats.
Daniel Arbour secured 80 per cent of the popular vote in Area A to defeat challengers Tamara Meggitt and Gordon Kennedy.
Arbour received 1,807 votes, compared to 346 for Meggitt and 99 for Kennedy.
The voter turnout in Area A was 34 per cent.
In Area C, incumbent Edwin Grieve will serve a fifth term, after defeating challenger Matthew Ellis, 1039-356.
The voter turnout for Area B was a region-low 18.8 per cent.
School trustees picked
As for school trustees, Chelsea McCannel-Keene will represent Area A. She garnered 1,112 votes to easily win over Kat Hawksby (476 votes) and Keith Porteous (362). Hawksby was a school trustee for Courtenay in the previous term.
Cristi May Sacht has retained her seat in Area C, defeating challenger Kendall Packham, 600-540.
Michelle Waite was acclaimed in Area B.
Alex Allen (323 votes) and Grant Scott (286) are the new Island Trust Hornby Island trustees. Jeffrey Rabena (269) finished third.
Denman Island’s trustees are David Graham ( 387 votes) and Sam Borthwick (359 votes). David Critchley (246) and Wesley Ritter (55) were also on the ballot.