Woodworker, artist, YouTube entertainer, art education coordinator and former Mirror journalist Mike Davies has announced that he is running for a position on Campbell River city council in the Oct. 15 Municipal General Election. Photo Submitted

Woodworker, artist, YouTube entertainer, art education coordinator and former Mirror journalist Mike Davies has announced that he is running for a position on Campbell River city council in the Oct. 15 Municipal General Election. Photo Submitted

CITY COUNCIL: Former Mirror journalist running for council

Former Campbell River Mirror journalist Mike Davies says after years of reporting on the decisions being made at City Hall, he thinks he can be part of making better ones.

Davies spent most of the last decade as a reporter here in Campbell River, but says he would now like to serve his community in a different way.

“I really felt like I was helping the people of Campbell River make better-informed decisions while I was at the paper,” Davies says in his candidacy announcement press release, “and now it’s time to do the same thing for City Hall.”

Davies is now a custom furniture maker and woodworker, painter, sculptor, photographer, musician, occasional podcaster and YouTube entertainer, family man, as well as working part-time in art education programming for The Crow’s Nest Artist Collective in Willow Point.

He recently finished serving a six-year term as president of the Campbell River Arts Council, giving up his seat earlier this year due to bylaw requirements stating he’d served his maximimum term with the organization. He currently serves as the organization’s Art + Earth Initiative Coordinator, creating and collaborating on various community events like the annual Buskers’ Day event on the Seawalk, the Fall Festival at Haig-Brown House, and many others.

When he looks back on his time reporting what was happening in the community – everything from decisions made around the school district board table, to non-profit fundraisers, to local kids’ sporting events, to structure fires and new business openings – it’s the time he spent reporting on council that sticks out to him as being the most frustrating.

“You’re obviously never going to have a city council that makes all the same decisions you would,” he says. “That’s just the nature of having seven different people and personalities around the table. But even the decisions they made that I agreed with took them far longer than I think they should have, and the ones I disagreed with were too often made in opposition to information that came forward during the discussions from experts on the topic or generally accepted best practices being used successfully in other communities.”

When city council was discussing the possibility of up-zoning the entire community to allow for legal secondary suites city-wide, for example, Davies says the information council was provided seemed to show that the benefits far outweighed any perceived drawbacks and that Campbell River was well behind comparable communities in the province when it came to secondary suite zoning.

“We have a huge problem, obviously, with housing affordability these days,” he says, “and to have all the evidence brought before you suggest that this one relatively simple change to your zoning bylaws could have a huge positive impact on that problem and then, instead of fully exploring it, you squash it before it can even go to public hearing makes no sense to me. I’m not saying I would have pushed to make that zoning change happen, but all the evidence presented suggested that it should at least be considered as a possible option, and then it just simply wasn’t.”

Davies says it’s not just his background in journalism that gives him a different outlook on the community’s needs than those who have been in charge in the past.

“I’m not going to pretend that I know people’s pasts, but I feel like I have a different one than most of the people we tyically see on city council,” Davies says. “I’ve spent most of my adult life being one or two paycheques away from being homeless. Heck, I actually lived in my car for a while at one point and spent more than a few years in my younger days moving to and from friends’ spare rooms and couches. I’m just an average dude who loves this commmunity and I want it to work for everyone, whether you’re a property developer wanting to create a new subdivision or you’re stocking shelves at the grocery store. Right now it’s not working for everyone. It’s not even working for most of us.”

More than anything, however, Davies would just like to see a wider range of voices represented in the decision-making process, and that starts by getting more people engaged in voting.

“If you’re not happy with the way the city is – or isn’t – working for you, you need to be part of changing it by electing different types of people to the positions that do the decision-making. The voter turnout numbers in the past three municipal elections I’ve watched have been worse than abyssmal. I mean, in some ways it’s not a huge surprise that we keep getting the same kinds of decisions being made by city councils when the same small percentage of the population are the ones going to the polls to have their say about who sits on it.

“I’ve put my name forward to sit on city council because I’m not happy with the way things are working,” he says. “All you have to do is vote.”

You can reach Davies by email at daviesforcrcouncil@gmail.com and follow him and his campaign on Facebook @MikeDaviesForCityCouncil

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