Thank you to the Quamichan Lake Community association for this opportunity. North Cowichan has let you down, I have let you down, on land use issues within the Urban Containment Boundary, especially near the perimeter. Last year after much heated debate, I recommended to Council that we do a Planning Exercise for the Maple Bay Corridor area. It was a success in getting people out – it was a failure in outcomes. Key staff were opposed to it even happening. They are now gone.
We have a new opportunity to work with the community on issues crucial to neighbourhoods like this. Where should the Urban Containment Boundary lie? What is reasonable density within the UCB, how can it respect features that are important to the community, how can we reflect this clearly in the language in the Official Community Plan, how can we drive new developments to be more compact, less costly and preserve more greenspace?
We have some very challenging work to do on this and it needs to start soon after the election before we face new development proposals. I would like the opportunity to get it right.
Regarding affordable housing, I heard Tuesday night that if we took our coffee money and pooled it together, we could buy the Tim Hortons Franchises in our area. Wow, that sounds like a co-op. What a great strategic investment. We all put in a small amount of money for a common cause and for the rest of our lives we get our latte’ at half price. It demonstrates beautifully the power of all of us investing together. That is what we can achieve if we support the referendum on the affordable housing service. With the horsepower of the 83, 000 people of the Region behind it and with the efficient, competent delivery of the service by the Cowichan Housing Association, we can attract capital funding from the $47 billion dollars committed by senior levels of government.
Affordable housing is a crisis across the spectrum, hurting the least fortunate among us, the working poor, the young and the old, businesses, the economy. We have to step forward, provide seed money, land and have dedicated community organizations to do the work, both within the municipality and across the region, and this regional service will support that.
Water is just as important and we need to do the long term planning for our watersheds, which are not restricted to political boundaries and are facing real pressures with the impacts of climate change.
It has been suggested that we have to stick to our core services like sewer and water. What should I say, when the local McDonalds calls up and says their business is being hurt by homeless people camped on their property, when some truly wonderful people from United Way and Cowichan Women Against Violence tell me that they need Municipal help to locate an extreme weather shelter for women living on the street, when we have cyanobacteria blooms on Quamichan lake, when a business is doing great but can’t hire new employees because there is no housing for them, when we have a chance to attract the new training centre for Rowing Canada? These are just a few of the issues that have come across my desk over the last few years and I will not say that we have no role, that we have no jurisdiction, that we are not willing to partner in a solution, that these are not core services.
We need to be passionate about the challenges facing us and we need to be bold and determined about solving them. We need to work together as a community and partner with senior levels of government to get the capital investment we need. I believe we can do this and I believe we will do this.