Campaigning for the Area H byelection in the Cowichan Valley Regional District is now underway with candidates Ben Maartman and Murray McNab running for the directorship.
Current Area H alternate director, Colin Haime — who is the acting area director — will not be running in the byelection.
Meet the Candidates
Ben Maartman is the owner and operator of Michael Lake Kennel and Soggy Bottom Farm. Maartman has lived in Area H for 15 years, and was inspired to run for office by former Area H director Mary Marcotte.
“Mary Marcotte had always been there as a resource for us. I really respect and appreciate her. She’s retired, and it made me think that if I could do even a part of the job she did, I’d really like to put my name forward, and see if I can help the community some more,” Maartman said.
Maartman’s priorities for Area H are keeping taxes low, and protecting natural resources like water, forests, farmland, and parks. He’s also looking to increase opportunities for agricultural tourism, and support small businesses in the area.
Maartman is in support of the proposed Yellow Point Trail. He has concerns around the issue of how the trail would be funded, and is opposed to putting any financial burden on Area H ratepayers.
“If we can get external funding for it, and have it built over time — or all at once — with external funding, then it would be a welcome addition to the community.”
When asked about the biggest challenges facing Area H, Maartman said water security is top of mind. He also pointed to increased development by the RDN and the Town of Ladysmith.
“To maintain the rural atmosphere here is going to be important to the people here,” he said. “How do you maintain and sustain that when there’s all these pressures around us?”
Maartman is also concerned by climate change, and said he will work to address climate concerns in the area.
This will be Maartman’s first foray into politics.
For more information visit: electben.ca
Murray McNab is the owner and operator of McNab’s Corn Maze & Produce Farm. McNab has lived in the area since his parents purchased the McNab farm in 1960, and has been operating the corn maze since 2002.
McNab ran in the 2018 CVRD election against Mary Marcotte, and received 261 votes — only nine less than the 270 votes Marcotte received.
McNab wants to reestablish community groups like the Area H Advisory Planning Commission, the Area H Fire Commission, and the Area H Parks Commission. He also wants to increase communication between Area H residents and the CVRD.
One of McNab’s main concerns is the expansion of the Town of Ladysmith on Area H borders.
“I’ve never been a fan of the slow creep of Ladysmith,” McNab said. “But there has to be slow development.”
On the note of developments in the area, McNab said he is in favour of the proposed Yellow Point Trail. He is supportive of fundraising for the trail, but does not support spending taxpayer dollars on the project.
“I’m all for it. I’ve even started construction of a trail that I would like to see go from Michael Road down through the gulch, past the farm, and up the other side as the start of the trail,” McNab said.
He also pointed to road widening work on Cedar Road as an area to start development on the trail.
On the issue of climate change, McNab noted that a bulk of the action on climate change lies in provincial and federal jurisdictions; however, he hopes to see more electric vehicles on the road, and wants to expand recycling programs within the CVRD.
McNab has served on the Area H Advisory Planning Commission, the Area H Parks Commission, the Yellow Point Ecological Society, and the North Oyster Fire Department. He was also on the board of directors for the North Oyster Community Centre, and the Nanaimo Airport Commission.
For more information visit: electmurraymcnab.ca
On the campaign trail
Traditional door knocking and in person methods to get out the vote will not occur in this byelection due to COVID-19. Maartman said he will make efforts to reach voters through mail, online communications, and Zoom meetings. McNab said he will be placing signs in the area, and will put out pamphlets at mailboxes. McNab may hold small campaign events with COVID-19 precautions in place if possible.
Where and when to vote
Due to COVID-19, all eligible voters in Area H may choose to vote by mail. Voters must apply for a mail ballot through the CVRD website or make arrangements by contacting the Mail Ballot Presiding Election Official directly at 250-746-2508, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All vote by mail ballots must be received by the Chief Election Officer by 8 p.m. on Nov. 28. Canada Post cannot guarantee delivery times, so those voting by mail should allow extra time for their ballots to be delivered.
Advance voting days will be held Wednesday, Nov. 18 and Tuesday, Nov. 24 at the MicroTel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Oyster Bay, 12570 Trans Canada Hwy.
General voting day will be Saturday, Nov. 28, and voting will take place at North Oyster Elementary School, 13270 Cedar Rd.
Area H includes residents living in the Diamond Improvement District, Yellow Point, Oyster Bay Reserve No. 12 and Chemainus Reserve No. 13.