In an ongoing series leading up to the Feb. 27 municipal by-election, the Mirror will be asking the candidates a series of questions about why they want to be on Campbell River City Council, what perspectives they will bring to the position and what they hope to accomplish should they win the open seat.
For question No. 2, we asked: In what ways, if any, do you feel the current council has not done enough for the people of Campbell River?
Their responses are as follows, in alphabetical order, exactly as they were submitted. One candidate, Devon Garat, did not submit a response by press deadline.
I think it is wise to build on the strengths of what we do and work toward addressing our shortfalls from our positions of strength. The current Council has begun some very positive initiatives: the Social Procurement Pilot program, Community Action Team, Q’waxsem Place Supportive Housing, Climate Adaptation Plan to name just a few. These need time to develop and community education is key. They are excellent beginnings and demonstrate at least the first steps in building a greater understanding between social goals and economic goals.
But we do need to go further. One major gap within city management is in the Heritage, Arts and Culture sector. This sector is central to bridging understanding between social and economic goals. The rich heritage of Campbell River, including the strength of our First Nations partners, the robust arts organizations in town, the progressive environmental groups, all combine to be a voice that is underrepresented within city management. The links between tourism, economic development, infrastructure, food security, public art, housing options, social services, are indeed developing, but still lack key voices within decision making. I feel it is most important to build capacity within the cultural sector, as an aspect of city governance, if we are to progress toward a more inclusive and diverse community.
This current Council is mid-way through their four-year term. So far, I think that Council, as a whole, has done a good job. In my opinion, there are some things that need to be considered in the future. I have not located the 2020-2029 Financial Plan so these items may already be in the plan. I think one of the biggest challenges is the downtown core. This area needs to be given some attention. I believe there was a study done that proved that a healthy downtown core is one where there is a mix of business (commercial) and residential. One concept would be to slowly redevelop the area with commercial underneath and residential above. I know that the City has tried before to create a development area where developers would receive a substantial reduction in municipal tax rates for ten years to encourage redevelopment. If we need to bring in a consultant who has a lot of experience with this type of concept and redevelopment, then we should do that.
Another concern is the lack of traffic control at the intersection of South Alder and Dogwood, especially since the west side of Dogwood is being developed. Traffic control would also be of assistance for pedestrians when needing to cross Dogwood. With this said, this project may already be in the plans.
With the current pandemic and economic changes, Campbell River citizens are faced with making some very hard decisions right now. City staff have worked very hard to deal with cut-backs, re-organization of departments and heavy traffic from new construction developments. This Council has supported the advice of City staff through and through but I dare to ask … was there enough consultation? Community engagement can be a tricky process and while everyone has something to say, not everyone takes the time and energy to put their opinions forward when asked. Don’t care for the Rockland Round-About? Not sure why your baseball fields weren’t upgraded but the soccer field was? Wondering why there is a sponsored upgrade project on Downtown business frontages but not Willow Point or Campbellton? All worthy projects that needed outcomes but when you asked for answers, did you get them? Did you leave a message for City Council and not get a call back? No answers leaves people wondering and feeling ignored. I have always carried an open door policy with accountability, transparency and integrity and will continue this policy to answer the questions of Campbell Riverites to the best of my knowledge and experience.
I have been a resident of the Campbell River area for the past 18 years. I can see why we are attracting more people to move here. However, I do feel the spirit square toilet was a poor decision. The $200,000 may have been better spent on improving the 2 toilets that were already there.
Like many residents in Campbell River, I have been frustrated over the years at some of the decisions of council. However, having not served a day as a councillor, it would be unfair to criticize the mechanism for which decisions are made without fully understanding or experiencing the burden placed at council’s feet. To that end, no one likes to feel marginalized, regardless of status, and the people need to be heard. I feel as a resident, council needs to be transparent and forthcoming with reasons for decisions and I will champion that cause.
It’s always easier to think that others aren’t doing enough, but I often remind myself that until I’m in that position, it’s really not my place to say what someone else could or should have done. It’s one of the many reasons I’m putting my name forward. I want to be part of the leadership team, bringing ideas and solutions to the table, not lamenting what has or hasn’t been done and feeding into negative actions and behaviours. (With that said, I sincerely hope that when I’m a City Councillor, residents will come to me with their ideas and solutions on how things can be improved within our community!)
I see that participation in some of our public engagement processes is lower than ideal, so I do question how and where City Council’s responsibility is to help find ways to create and encourage more residents to get involved. As the pandemic evolves, I recognize the challenges to communicating effectively and inclusively, yet as leaders, City Councillors need to demonstrate their openness and willingness to meet people where they’re at (safely and responsibly), and invite residents in to fully participate in this amazing community we all call home.
A senior city manager once told me he has never met a councillor that did not genuinely care about the community.
City council needs to empower the city administration to take risks and take on tasks internally rather than hiring costly consultants. These consultants cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars per project to do work that many staff administration have the expertise to perform internally. The city council’s traditional role is to set pragmatic policies and not micromanage the day-to-day operations of each Department. The permitting process for both residential and industrial land needs to be simplified and streamlined. The backlog in permits and bureaucracy have caused a residential and industrial inventory crisis in our community. The Campbell River Official Community Plan (OCP) is currently four years overdue for its mandated rewriting. The OCP has to be reduced in both length and complexity.
When COVID-19 hit in March, other cites immediately created bylaws that applied to all businesses so they could easily maneuver their services and serve their customers outside. In Campbell River, each individual business had to apply for a permit and wait for the approval.
Watch for more coverage of the municipal by-election in the coming weeks in the lead-up to general voting day on Feb. 27 and find more information on the candidates and the election itself online at www.campbellrivermirror.com