Jon’s blog

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in my 15 years as Mayor and on Council in North Cowichan is that people love open, clear, transparent communication, That works for me: it’s against my nature to do otherwise. Here are some of my latest ideas and inspirations. Feel free to comment via the contact page.

Crofton All-Candidates Meeting, Oct.1, 2018

Good evening Crofton. Thank you for this opportunity. The over arching plan for Crofton is to encourage growth within the Urban Containment Boundary , to build up the numbers so that services can be supported locally – that means bringing back the doctor, the dentist,  the bank – so that you don’t have to drive to another place for your basic needs. That will make this a more sustainable and efficient community. It will take time, decades possibly, and we need your support for it to happen. Part of that plan is having a viable water supply. We have been fortunate to have a reliable and inexpensive water supply for Crofton from the Mill. Recently we have been able to add a backup water line from the Southend Water System, along Osborne Bay Road to Crofton. There is potential for that line to become the water supply for Crofton and for Crofton to join the much bigger and more cost efficient Southend water system. That is an important discussion to have with our engineers and Council.

There are things that we need to work on to make progress in Crofton and North Cowichan. They will only happen if we are bold and determined. The most important next step for Crofton is the redevelopment of the ferry terminal and surrounding waterfront. BC Ferries have acknowledged that the Crofton Terminal must be rebuilt or replaced and I want you to consider what could be done because BC Ferries will be bringing a community consultation, on the future of the terminal, to you this fall.

Imagine a roundabout at York and Chaplin, with a new road to the north and then east with stacking lanes, to the ocean, taking all the traffic and parking off Chaplin and allowing us to own and redevelop the boat launch and park area from the skate park to the oceanfront, with places to sit and picnic , perhaps a fishing pier, all without the current congestion. We could accomplish that in partnership with Catalyst, Ministry of Highways, BC Ferries and you. I have met and talked about this with Mark Collins, CEO of BC Ferries, Ned Dwyer, CEO of Catalyst, and Minister Clair Trevena , Minister of Highways.

This can only happen as a partnership with those people and it will only happen with a lot of work and commitment from you, the community and the leadership of North Cowichan.

I want to work on this. I want us to be bold and determined. I don’t want to sit in a room at Municipal Hall and figure out how we can do nothing, simplify regulations  and put a small amount of money back in your pocket. I don’t want to follow a path to mediocrity, I want us to be inspired. I want that skate park that the community pushed for and raised money for, and one of my opponents said was a waste of money, to be the start of great things, not the end. I want to make a difference that matters.

I want to invest in the community, I want to tackle the affordable housing crisis, bring millions in grant money from the Province and the Feds into our community to build the housing needed for those living on the street, for the working poor, for seniors, for single moms. When we provide Housing First for the least fortunate among us, we all benefit.

I want to monitor and protect our precious water resources. Climate change is a reality in our region – we have been dangerously close to having the Province  shut down the Mill water supply because of low flow in the Cowichan River. We need to do the long term planning for our watersheds, to make sure we have sufficient, clean water in the future.

I want to work on these issues with you fully engaged and supportive, to build a better community.

Jon

Duncan Community Lodge All-Candidates Meeting, Oct. 4, 2018

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.

Building Relationships with First Nations

Uy’ skweyul.  (Good day.)

For the last 4 years I have been leading efforts, as CVRD Board Chair and Mayor of North Cowichan, to build trust with the First nations whose Traditional Territory we share. At the Regional District level, the Board has supported the work of the Cultural Connections Program to bring our communities together and advance Truth and Reconciliation. That requires facing the truth of how terribly First Nations have been treated in our country and the crippling impacts of a colonization that attacked every part of a traditional life and culture.

At a recent gathering of Elders from across the Province, Cowichan Tribes adopted the motto “We are still here”. We have an opportunity today to work with First Nations as they rebuild their culture in a modern world. Their success will be our success as a community as we deal with the difficult issues –  affordable housing, climate change, water protection, addiction etc. – that face all of us.

Relationship-building takes time and sincere commitment, something I hope we can all commit to as we create a community together. The Hul’q’umi’num  language has a beautiful word “nuts’a’maut” that literally means working together as one, but has much deeper meaning to those who practice it. That is what we need to strive for as we move out of a dark past  and into the light.

Huy ch q’u (thank you)

Jon

Drinking Water and Watershed Protection

The security of our water supply is a critical issue for our future. You will see a referendum question on the Ballot, asking if you support a CVRD function to deal with Drinking Water and Watershed Protection. If you support this, we can start work in an effective manner on the long-term management plans for the 17 watersheds in our region. These watersheds cross political boundaries and can best be dealt with at the regional level.

These watersheds are at risk because of climate change and development pressures. Some areas of the region are suffering from inadequate water supply already and more will follow. Here in North Cowichan, we know that we can supply domestic water for our residents today but in the face of longer droughts and increased demand, we can not be sure of the future. We need to plan for the future.

Water quality is also a serious issue. All forms of development, from farms to housing to industry, can negatively impact our drinking water. It is vital to monitor our water systems and act when we know of potential contamination.

With a small contribution from each of us, we can start the important work that needs to be done to protect our precious water supply.

Jon

Affordable Housing

I trust you have become aware that there is a referendum question on Affordable Housing on the Election Ballot. I hope you will support our push to create a function that will provide seed money to the Cowichan Housing Association and allow them to attract millions in funding for affordable housing projects from senior levels of government. This is a great opportunity to invest in our community.

We are facing an affordable housing crisis, something that most jurisdictions across the country are experiencing as well. There is not enough housing across the spectrum. For those who are homeless because of trauma, addiction and mental health issues, sleeping ‘rough’ is a common occurrence. They are unable to access health or social services, or be in a position to get a job. There is also  a lack of housing for the working poor and young people starting out, with new home prices so high. The least fortunate among us are suffering and the economic impact is borne by all of us.

The Federal Government has allocated 40 billion dollars and the Province has allocated 7 billion provincial to address the affordable housing crisis over the next 10 tears through the National Housing Strategy (NHS). The NHS focuses on and prioritizes:

  • the social sector, including the community housing sector with non-profit and co-operative housing providers
  • partnerships and collaboration between governments, non-profits, co-operatives, academics and the for-profit sector

We need to step forward with seed money, land and support the community organizations that will make the housing happen.

For the full story,  visit the following link to the National Housing Strategy:

https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/nhs/guidepage-strategy

What is the strategy?

There is no place like home. That’s why we’ve created Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy. This $40 billion, 10-year plan will strengthen the middle class, cut chronic homelessness in half and fuel our economy. Most importantly, it will give more Canadians across the country a place to call home.

Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy will help drive the success of Canada’s housing sector by giving more Canadians affordable homes.

Through the NHS, the federal government is bringing together the public, private and non-profit sectors to re-engage in affordable housing. Using a mix of funding, grants and loans, the strategy will create affordable, stable and livable communities. These communities will be located near amenities and transportation – and have the opportunities needed to succeed. Ultimately, communities where families thrive.

The goal is to ensure Canadians across the country have access to housing that meets their needs and is affordable. To achieve this, the strategy will first focus on the most vulnerable Canadians.

The NHS will spearhead innovative new housing research, data and demonstration projects. This will fill gaps in our knowledge, share the best ideas and shape the future of housing policy in Canada. It will also create new opportunities for the federal government to innovate through partnerships with the community housing sector, co-operative movement, private sector, and research community. The end result will:

The end result will see:

  • strengthen the middle class
  • cut chronic homelessness in half
  • build up to 100,000 new homes
  • fuel our economy
  • create a new generation of housing in Canada

Ultimately, the National Housing Strategy will promote diverse communities and create a new generation of housing that is mixed-income, mixed-use, accessible and sustainable.

Welcome 2018

Welcome and thank you for visiting this website. I hope the posts and videos will give you a good understanding of the challenges we are facing and how I propose to tackle them. Please contact me with any questions you have or concerns that are not mentioned already.

I have kept the material from the last campaign in 2014 because it is still very relevant.

Thanks
Jon

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