The Mission Record reached out to the seven FVRD director candidates in the Oct. 20 municipal election and asked them the same two questions.
The questions are:
1. What is the biggest or most important issue in your area?
2. What is your vision for the future?
Here are their responses.
Electoral Area C – Hemlock Valley, a portion of Harrison Mills, Lake Errock, and Morris Valley
1. All community issues are important to each diverse community throughout Area C. None should be discounted.
We need to re-evaluate our Official Community Plan. In 2014, my last term, I requested an already long overdue review of the OCP. It was approved. To date there have been no forward steps in engaging residents in the review. Involving residents democratically pinpoints priorities of individual communities and also the community as a whole.
Important issues expressed to me through community members in the past and recently are:
– Sasquatch – responsible development, avalanche protection, water and sewer infrastructure for build-0ut capacity, keeping the designated park from becoming a parking lot, potholes.
– Weaver Creek and Harrison Mills – costs for sewer, water and garbage.
– Lake Errock – has flood plain septic leaching issues that I would want to continue work on in terms of available grants to not add to the local tax burden.
– all areas – health care, housing, convenient shopping and transportation; health concerns regarding dust particulate from our corridor of gravel pits; drought and watershed concerns; adequate education; better communication and preparedness regarding area fires and emergencies.
2. Including as many community members as possible in the decision-making process. Being the people’s advocate to protect our values, while building better amenities, making for well-rounded communities. Pro-actively bringing Area C’s concerns forward through continued work with peers, provincial government and other special groups. Helping keep all the wonderful things we stay or moved here for intact, so we can all be one big happy Area C!
1. There are a host of challenging issues facing Area C, including the need for public bus service between Mission and Harrison, road and bridge upgrading on Morris Road, paving the road to Hemlock and improving cellphone service, but the number one most important issue impacting the majority of residents of all ages across Area C is the need for a local health care services centre.
Area C residents presently have to look to the adjacent larger population centres of Mission, Abbotsford, Agassiz, Hope and Chilliwack for their health-care requirements. Health services are a lengthy distance from Area C.
2. My vision and one of the reasons I accepted the call to run for the elected position of director for Area C is because I would like to see a more cohesive relationship developed between all residents in Area C. We can do better than operating in silos and hope to be successful in growing and serving our respective communities both economically and socially.
I will advocate on behalf of both First Nations and non-Aboriginal residents of Area C at the FVRD and with provincial and federal government departments and agencies. In other words, I will be a representative for all!
There is a mandate for all levels of government to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation report, but aside from that, we all have an obligation to educate and engage ourselves and our respective communities in how we can go about creating a new, stronger, more beneficial economic and social relationship to our mutual benefit.
First Nations members, non-Aboriginal people and the FVRD have a joint opportunity to help build cohesive, vibrant and united communities, ones in which all residents share a sense of involvement and cohesiveness. I am not a one-dimensional candidate.
1. Although there are many issues that are facing the communities within Area C, I think the one thing that encompasses most of these issues would be the review and update of the Official Community Plan.
This plan is an important document as it encompasses the identification of different land uses in Area C such as zoning, parks and trails, heritage values, the environment, transportation and tourism. As we work through the process of updating this plan, we have extensive community consultations with local area residents, user groups and stakeholders and incorporate the wishes of the majority into the long term planning of the Area C communities.
2. My vision for the future of Area C is for slow sustainable growth. Using a fair, direct and transparent approach, we will work towards updating and implementing the Official Community Plans (OCP) for Area C and Sasquatch Mountain and – in keeping with this slow sustainable growth vision – current services and zoning would be reviewed, parks and trials would be created, and our local heritage buildings and cultural sites would be protected without compromising our rural identity.
Electoral Area F – McConnell Creek and Hatzic Prairie
1. My biggest concern today is for our aquifers and streams, and the threats posed by climate change, forestry, mining, and the increasing demand for water.
This is not about choosing between the environment and the economy – in an agricultural community, neither will survive without water.
2. The FVRD needs to live up to the objectives set in the Hatzic Prairie -McConnell Creek Official Community Plan, and prioritize protection of our water above building excess capacity into our water system. We should be striving to get to the point where we know, with confidence, how much water we have, how much water we need, and how climate change will impact us all.
We also need much stronger communications between the community and the FVRD. Most residents are disengaged and uninformed – we’re too far from Chilliwack for most people to bother making the trip, information relevant to our area is posted too deep and too late on the FVRD website, and, with only 1,300 people in the area, we’re simply too small for the media to pay much attention and bridge that gap.
There’s so much technology today that would enable the FVRD to pro-actively engage the community – we need to start using it.
Electoral Area G – Nicomen Island, Deroche, Dewdney, Hatzic Island
1. Area G encompasses Hatzic Island, Dewdney, Nicomen Island and Deroche. I have been a resident of Hatzic Island for 26 years, and during that time I have been witness to the degradation of the lake to the extent that sturgeon died from a lack of oxygen this past summer.
There are many issues surrounding the lake which need to be addressed. Dewdney, Nicomen and Deroche are strong farming communities with families that have been on the land for generations. Many people have expressed their concern for our natural resources, and our responsibility to protect our environment. Area G is a diverse area, and all residents need to have a voice, and have a right to expect transparency in respect of government process.
2. My vision is to create a community in which all residents have a voice and are free to express their opinions respectfully. Through collaboration, our community can be strong, and be a place that our future generations will be proud to call home.
1. Our many small communities in Area G each have differing needs but first and foremost is a safe and healthy place in which to live. Water is paramount to this desire and, so, is of special concern for each of us:
• This past spring, we once again worried about the possibility of Fraser River flooding. We all depend upon the security our diking systems provide, so we must ensure these dikes are continuously well-maintained and upgraded to maximize protection for residents and the infrastructure which supports us.
• Water-quality issues at Hatzic Lake and the resultant algae blooms and fish kills in August frightened all of us and we must determine what was causal and what remedies can be applied to ensure there is never a repeat of the situation.
• The threat of contamination to shallow ground water is becoming a little more real every day with our steadily increasing population. Potable and plentiful water supplies and effective waste treatment for residents throughout the more populated areas of Area G must be thoughtfully considered as we move forward.
2. We must ensure that development related to the inevitable population growth which will occur in and around Area G is conducted in a manner which demands respect for our environment, neighbours and culture, while sustaining the integrity of our irreplaceable farmland for agriculture, the backbone of our local economy.
* FVRD Electoral Area F candidate Ray Boucher has yet to respond to The Record’s request for answers.