The WestShore Chamber of Commerce hosted an all-candidates forum for Colwood’s candidates for mayor and council on Sept. 27.
All candidates answered four core questions on doctor shortages, climate change, affordable housing, and a pay increase for mayor and council.
Here’s what was said.
Incumbent Mayor Rob Martin said he was proud of the accomplishments of this past council, noting the high amount of investment the community has seen. Martin said changing zoning to allow for more medical office space could help with the doctor shortage, but emphasized the province needs to play its role.
“I refuse to allow the downloading of provincial responsibility – financial responsibility – onto the municipal taxpayer. This is the responsibility of the province, they need to be paying for that, they need to step up.”
Martin also said he’d advocated for the Latoria South development to have electric heat pumps and touted Colwood’s record on affordable housing, pointing to Colwood Corners, adding that the city needed to look beyond just single-family housing. Martin said he’d continue to back the citizen committee’s recommendation to give a pay bump to mayor and council.
Current Coun. Doug Kobayashi said the council had “strayed away from the wonderful grassroots of the community.” He wants to work with the Saunders Family Foundation to help tackle the doctor shortage and see the active transportation plan implemented, plus switching the city’s vehicle fleet to alternative energy if it’s financially feasible and building retrofits.
“I would implement… baseline metrics and set realistic greenhouse gas target gas reductions for the city’s operations. You can’t measure – I mean how the heck would we know where are?”
Kobayashi said he’d work with private and non-profit partners – perhaps waiving property taxes and development fees for the latter– to build more affordable housing and consider modular and social housing. Kobayashi maintained his opposition to the council pay bump.
Council candidate Misty Olsen pledged to support the Saunders Family Foundation’s work on health care networks and wants more education on environmentally responsible living to be done in schools. Olsen wants a review of the housing permit process to cut roadblocks and potentially allow for carriage and garden homes. She also wants a review of the council pay bump, saying it’s too much too fast.
Incumbent Coun. Stewart Parkinson says Colwood should support provincial efforts to tackle doctor shortages and be mindful of sea level rise while looking at introducing more heat pumps, electric vehicle chargers, and a hydrogen refilling station. Parkinson said Colwood has already done its part to address affordable housing with the currently zoned projects and is in favour of a pay bump for council.
Incumbent Dean Jantzen wants to advocate for the province to find solutions to doctor shortages and wants Colwood to focus on preparations against the impacts of climate change, like an earthquake-proof emergency operations centre. Jantzen said Colwood should cut red tape for infill, cottage and carriage housing and spoke in favour of a pay bump for councillors.
Council candidate Steven MacAskill wants Colwood to hold the province to account on the doctor shortage and look at a grant program for medical students. MacAskill said he’d back mixed commercial and residential development to make Colwood more walkable and cut car emissions and create more purpose-built rental and condo units. MacAskill backed the pay bump, saying candidates saying no were being disingenuous.
Council candidate Ian Ward wants to back partners like the Saunders Family Foundation to combat doctor shortages and wants to see community-led initiatives, green retrofits and electric vehicle chargers more prominent in city planning on climate change. Ward wants Colwood to go after housing funds from higher levels of government and establish its own affordable housing program and reserve fund. Ward said no to a pay bump and called for a professional review of council pay.
Incumbent Coun. Cynthia Day wants to lobby the province on dealing with doctor shortages and establish commercial centres and live-work options for physicians. Day eyed identifying Colwood’s wetlands as a way to combat climate change and called for more supportive housing and suggested allowing rent-to-own tenants. Day said no to a pay bump, instead calling for another review.
Council candidate David Grove backed the Saunders Family Foundation and wanted to look at working with non-profit clinics. He wants more information available for citizens to volunteer for climate change projects and supports “acquirable housing” of different sizes, including density “where it works.” Grove said a pay bump may be needed but would want more review before saying yes.
Council candidate Kim Jordison wants the city to help doctors with office costs including space and maintain a list of residents without a doctor. She’d push for more transit options including light rail and wanted to see vertical farming be introduced to Colwood. Jordison supports secondary suites and would look into a financial payback program, while she said no to a council pay bump calling for a review into a potential smaller increase.