The candidates for North Cowichan councillors spoke on a wide range of topics at an all-candidates meeting at Chemainus Secondary School Thursday night, hoping their messages would resonate with voters.
The personalities and important issues of the 15 contenders were all over the map, ranging from the humorous with significant insights to the informative to the lame to the plain mundane.
It’s admittedly hard to summarize a platform in three minutes, which is all the time each was allotted, plus another two minutes at the end of the program for a summary.
While many touched upon the contentious Municipal Forest Reserve review and the Official Community Plan, there were other matters they brought up to pique the interest of voters. All were in attendance other than incumbent Kate Marsh, who was ill and stayed at home but appeared by video link and relayed messages to be read to the audience.
In addressing the forest reserve review, “it must take First Nations and the environment into account,” Marsh noted.
Here’s a few tidbits from the presentations of each councillor hopeful in order of their places to speak at the meeting:
Chris Shaw – “We serve all of you no matter how they vote, whether like you or don’t,” he said. “It’s all of us waking up in the same valley.” He’s been aligned with Adrienne Richards, Joseph Enslow and Charles Borg for standing up at another candidates meeting in Maple Bay as believing the municipality’s official community plan process is tied to the World Economic Forum and/or the United Nations.
Christopher Justice – Completing his first term in office, “it’s been a humbling experience at times,” he said. “There’s more to learn and understand than I thought would have been possible.”
Tek Manhas – “I’m running to bring pragmatism and balance back to council,” he said. With stalled housing projects on Sherman Road and Willow Street in Chemainus, if these had been incentivized to developers, “we would have these units built already,” he added.
Peter W. Rusland – “Our unrealized potential will only be reached with citizen participation,” he said. “There is evidence of fear tactics being used here in North Cowichan,” he added on another matter. “Elect a team of people free of any underlying agendas.”
Mike Caljouw – “I want to engage meaningfully with the community,” he said. “I’m a free-thinking, open-minded person and I don’t vote along party lines.”
Chris Istace – “You’ve urged me to continue the serving of the community, as I’ve done for the last nine years, at a high level,” he said. From his previous experiences in the oil industry and being viewed mainly as an environmentalist now, “I learned we need to balance and change as we move forward in our lives,” he added.
Dana Arthurs – “I want to bring a new and cooperative voice to municipal hall,” she said. On the environment, “I feel every decision we make should be looking at the impact it would have on the environment,” she added.
Adrienne Richards – She addressed the issue of standing up during another meeting in Maple Bay, along with three others, when asked if they believed the municipality’s official community plan was influenced by the World Economic Forum and/or the United Nations. She said despite slander and defamation and complete fabrications by local bloggers, “myself and some others have managed to retain our integrity.”
Elizabeth Croft – “There’s some rhetoric hanging around this election,” she said. “Despite the rhetoric, I think you’ll see a lot of commonality among our platforms.” With whatever developments occur, “we want these developments to include affordable housing and rentals,” she added.
Joseph Enslow – He addressed his belief in the UN influence on the official community plan with a question for people about what the real emergency is here. “They don’t even know where the plan to revamp our entire community comes from,” he said. With plans like Chemainus revitalization, “what will it take to complete these projects?” he pondered.
Debra Toporowski – “I’m a caring person who knows how to listen to you and your community issues,” said the incumbent. “We need a balance between our environment and a strong economy. We can truly have both. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.”
Joyce Behnsen – “I am ready to work for the people of North Cowichan again,” said the prior councillor, who served from 2014-2018. “I’ve always enjoyed engaging with people.” On the housing issue, “we need to work effectively with the builders and developers to reduce lengthy delays,” she said.
Bruce Findlay – “I’m a unique candidate,” he said, with a business in Maple Bay, residence in Crofton and property in Chemainus. “I believe we need to increase the supply of homes for all residents.”
Charles Borg – “My vision for our community is businesses, individuals and families working together for peace and prosperity,” he said. He has also spoken previously about his support for the Freedom Convoy earlier this year as it was ruled a peaceful and legal protest.