I entered this election because I’m committed to democracy and to making our community better for everyone. Although new to politics, I have a long history of community volunteering; working for community interests rather than special interests. I’ve lived in the Electoral Area for 25 years, and have no personal stake in land development. I am moderate, fair-minded, inclusive and accessible.
An important issue in this election is land use planning. Good planning is a necessity for a safe, healthy community. With the release of land from Tree Farm Licences, more land will come up for rezoning. Review of Official Community Plans and the pressure for increased development on previously forested lands mean that the community needs strong, balanced leadership. In addition, many residents receive water from local water systems and wells. Good planning is what keeps your neighbour’s septic system a suitable distance from your water source.
Better local governance is directly related to broader community input. All members of a community deserve to be heard and respected. In the past three years, many of the local advisory committees have met infrequently. When elected, I will revitalize these committees so that citizens have a direct impact on decision making. I will also hold town hall meetings in each community to provide an informal setting to express local concerns and exchange ideas.
Electoral Area residents deserve to be represented by someone who will act in their best interest without bias. Decisions made by government impact us all. Electoral Area decisions are closest to home and have a direct impact on where we live, the water we drink, how we move, where we work and how we relax. These decisions are important, and every citizen’s voice should be heard. The time is right for change. Self-determination for our communities represents real change.
The two most important issues in the Juan de Fuca revolve around governance and the land use decision making process. Although both are often related, they stand alone as to complexity and significance.
The Juan de Fuca Electoral area has a population roughly the same as Metchosin. It has two communities Otter Point and East Sooke each roughly the same population as the Highlands. Both the Highlands and Metchosin are municipalities and are represented by a Mayor and four councillors. They share the duties of attending meetings, making land use decisions, sitting on committees , working with their staff and generally running the business of their municipalities.
The lone JDF Regional Director, with help from his alternate, attend to all duties of the mayor and councils. In addition, he or she must convince the other CRD directors to endorse many of the decisions, must share staff with the rest of the CRD, and does not have a chief of staff or administrator. The seven distinct communities in the JDF deserve a more accountable governance system.
The Land Use Decision making process has been changed a few times and currently has a fragile system involving six elected volunteers. The system fails somewhat when a volunteer from Port Renfrew is making a decision on East Sooke or visa versa.
Governance can only be improved with a provincial governance study and land use decisions can be improved with strengthened OCPs. To that end, I have recently met with Minister Ida Chong to hopefully look at a possible governance study in the 2012 and I would again commit Gas Tax money to complete the Otter Point OCP review and start further reviews in East Sooke, Shirley/ Jordon River and Port Renfrew in 2012.