North Cowichan Council Survey

We asked the candidates for North Cowichan Council the following questions:

  1. Do you believe local government should invest significant funds in nature interpretation for tourists and local citizens?
  2. Do you believe the CVRD should have a Regional Growth Management Plan?
  3. Would you support a bylaw to protect large healthy trees on private property?
  4. Would you support a bylaw to prohibit cosmetic uses of herbicides and pesticides on private property and in parks and public spaces?
  5. Do you support increased funding to increase the frequency and coverage of public transit?
  6. Would you support our local government enacting shoreline protection bylaws?
  7. Under what conditions would you support removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve?
  8. Do you have any other comments about the relationship between local government and the natural environment?
  9. How can we learn more about you?

They all answered with “yes” to the first six questions except that Pat Barnes answered “no” to Question 3 about protecting trees and Barb Lines reserved judgment on Questions 3 and 4 (pesticides). Here are their responses to Questions 7 and 8:

 

Tom Masters Only where the land in question is clearly not suitable for agriculture. Local governments can and must incorporate provisions to protect the natural environment in all development approvals; must ensure measures to combat pollution of the air, water and land found in official community plans are rigorously upheld; and conduct their own operations in accordance with environmental protection principles.
Kate Marsh I understand there is a policy in North Cowichan’s OCP not to support the removal of any land from the ALR unless it is replaced by other land of at least equal size. Each such proposal would have to be considered on its own merits.I do support the proposal of the Providence society to remove a portion of land from the ALR to provide affordable housing. And they are putting in another portion, slightly larger and according to Jack Hutton, more arable.I think it makes sense to swap out ALR land in this case because the land that is being developed isn’t prime growing land and the Sister’s of St Ann are in favor of the development, and we all know, we need this type of housing and it’s a perfect location. The idea that a Hospice might also be housed there very much appeals to me. The entire plan should benefit the whole area.If it is prime growing land – it should not be taken out. I feel we need more local food production and capacity, not less. I’d like to see NC release any ALR land it owns for long term lease by young farmers to grow food and our local economy.

I’m concerned about ALR properties being purchased and large homes being built in the middle of them, and the land not being farmed. Local food security is one of my deepest concerns and part of what I call ‘real economic health’.

Local concerns should be listened to, not just at the local level but at higher levels of government.One of my big concerns is the lack of funding or will to deal with the ever increasing problem of invasive species. North Cowichan council had $ 5,000 in their budget to deal with this problem. I recently found two federal programs with significant and ongoing grant money available to deal with invasives and suggested the municipality apply for some. It was referred to their forester.I’m concerned about the definition of managed forest to the municipality. I recently attended a section of managed forest, that had been replanted almost 10 years ago, and the trees were only about 2 feet high. This is not sustainable forestry.I feel we have an obligation to inventory our ecological assets and assess how they are doing.

I want to qualify my answer to the question about investing significant funds in nature interpretation. I believe to do something sustainable we must bring the public along. I don’t want to be a one term councillor, I want to help to education the public about the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits of nature. The big issue in some people’s minds is taxes and keeping them affordable. I agree that is necessary.

Yet much of our projects are paid for by senior levels of government and their prescribed grants. I would lobby for us to have more autonomy and decision making around what we do with monies we are ‘granted’ by the province and the federal government.
After all, they get all their income tax dollars from people in towns and cities all across the country, we should have a say in what we use our money for at the local level, even if they are cutting the cheque.

I’d like to see us get some regional funding for nature interpretation and pubic education.

Locally, we know (or should know) the state of our environment and must protect it where we can. I am in favor of protection Echo Heights for instance. Selling part of it would net some short term cash, but the over riding principle is coastal Douglas fir ecosystems are rare and imperiled and must be saved. Even the province states this, they just won’t provide any funding to do so. I wrote a proposal to the province suggesting the province tie grant money for other projects for NC to the condition of saving Echo Heights and was told the idea had great merit, but all grant money was already spent.

Roger Hart Exchanging poor agricultural land within the ALR for an equal or greater amount of good agricultural land that could be placed within the ALR.However, in general terms we need to be expanding the ALR, reducing the Urban Growth Boundaries (e.g. Echo Heights), increasing parkland (including lakes) and making better use of our municipal forests (e.g. carbon credits, food security, and sustainable forestry). We can learn from other municipalities that are much more proactive than North Cowichan. We already have an Environment Commission within CVRD, but we need to give a Nortth Cowichan Councillor an Environmental Portfolio to start making things happen in a timely manner.
Pat Barnes If the land is not viable for growing crops or is very small, those would be two conditions that I would consider before removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve Local government is there to look after the community. The community includes everything from infrastructure to the natural environment.
Ruth Hartmann None I live in the outdoors, as does my husband and family. I truly believe there is the swing to be more considerate and understand what it means to protecting our environment and what it is all about. Yet slow ..but sure. We are all taking an interest in educating those who would appear to be old school and don’t care. That old fashion attitude of entitlement. What I mean by that is for years it was thought to be endless…trees, fresh water, fishing. And many raped and pillaged for some time. Now through education, I like to think the pendulum is swinging in the other direction.
We “all” have to make a commitment to work on protection.
Hilary Huntley I can’t see any really good reasons to take land out of the Reserve status. For example, the ball fields were built on land that was low lying (according to the guys who lives there and cut hay there) and the grass infrastructure could have been made in a way that was responsible ie run off, fertilizers, cutting waste plan etc. The Forest Discovery Centre was removed and a large parking lot and buildings were approved, at this time there was no consultation about preservign the trees that are there!! Once the designation of Ag. Reserve has been removed the land is dropped from the radar and the developers do what they please!! This us upsetting. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to have a greater understanding of what exactly the municipal level can do, from protecting Heron Rookeries, Giant Hog weed removal, shoreline clean up, Scotch Broom removal, required riparian protection prior to development approval, plots set aside for community gardens, wet land reclamation and awareness, and eel grass programs, so that a small amount of volounteers who actually go out and do the work can help the government learn what can be done. I would like to see these dedicated volounteers find support in the local government.
Robert Douglas Being a proponent of local food security, I am strongly opposed to removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for residential, commercial and industrial development.However, there are certain rare situations where removing land may be acceptable. For example, if the land being removed is of low-quality and is being replaced by higher-quality farmland that is of greater quantity, then a case could be made for removing it from the ALR. That said, there are very few cases of that nature. Both North Cowichan and the CVRD, with their power over land use planning decisions, should take on a much greater role in promoting environmental stewardship and mitigating climate change.Our natural environment is facing growing challenges, which are only expected to become more severe in the coming years. We continue to dump sewage in the Cowichan River, and pursue a land use model that’s leaving our farmland and forests spoiled. With climate change expected to worsen over the next decade, extreme weather events will become more frequent, with droughts and water restrictions hitting us in the summer and flooding and power outages in the winter.We are approaching or have already crossed the region’s natural thresholds, yet many of our local leaders are content to continue with the existing approach to growth and development.The human utilization rate of the region’s land base has grown significantly since European settlement, with our footprint now covering more than 75% of the total landbase (including logging and development). Meanwhile the level of protected areas remains extremely low, with overall representation less than 8%, which is far less than the provincial average (14%). This is well below what is needed to maintain ecological values down the road – the scientific evidence suggests close to 50% of the landscape should be managed with an emphasis on conservation if biodiversity and ecosystem services are to be effectively maintained.

If elected to North Cowichan Council, I would promote a sustainable approach to growth and development. My priorities would be to:

•Ensure all land use planning decisions in the municipality are informed by the Cowichan Environment Commission’s 12 Big Ideas.
•Work with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) to develop a regional energy plan that will recognize the reality of peak oil and recommend strategies to reduce energy consumption and promote renewable energy production.
•Encourage North Cowichan to focus growth in existing communities; encourage well-designed and compact neighbourhoods where residents choose to live, work, shop and play in close proximity; ensure neighbourhoods have safe infrastructure for walking, cycling and transit.
•Protect environmentally sensitive areas and agricultural lands from development.
•Pressure North Cowichan to implement policies to encourage green building by establishing a green building policy for civic buildings, applying for membership in green building organizations, developing a sustainability checklist for the development approval process, establishing in-house green building expertise, creating a website to provide homeowners and developers with information on green building, lowering development cost charges for green building, and offering financial incentives for green design.
•Urge our Municipality to hire an environmental youth team specifically to remove invasive plant species.
•Encourage North Cowichan to develop a green infrastructure program to improve management of stormwater runoff and contain winter flooding. This program would encourage the use of bioswales, pervious paving materials, green roofs, and other techniques to promote the natural infiltration of rainwater.

Geoff Hincks In general, I do not support removing land from the ALR. I am sorry that I am unable to answer more of your survey questions because I believe a simple yes or no response is not sufficient to accurately express my views on these issues.
Barb Lines I would support a trade of equal amounts of non-arable land and arable land. That being said, I would welcome examples of where that has happened and how well it worked. The goal would be to keep land in the ALR.. Local government plays a huge role in what happens to the natural environment whenever they make land use decisions. Research, opportunities for groups such as yourself to have input, and a commitment to preserve as much as possible will guide my decisions.I support the stance of the Official Community Plan re.Preserving our rural setting. “…by continuing to implement policies that reduce development pressures on rural landscapes (eg. careful growth management, buffering and waterfront protection policies), and that support the working landscape while protecting sensitive ecosystems.”I will research the policies mentioned above re. tree protection and use of herbicides and pesticides on private property, as I am not ready to give a yes or no answer.