2018 marked the end of the first four-year term for local governments in BC.
For the Ladysmith-Chemainus area, four years seemed to be long enough.
The October municipal elections brought a thoroughly new look to town councils in Ladysmith and North Cowichan, and more of the same to the Cowichan Valley Regional District board.
In Ladysmith, Mayor Aaron Stone was acclaimed for a second term after being unopposed, but his council saw sweeping change. Voters elected five new faces after an election campaign that focused on the Waterfront Plan, construction at the Rocky Creek dip and the proposed building of the Holland Creek bridge.
Amanda Jacobson, Rob Johnson, Tricia McKay, Marsh Stevens and Jeff Virtanen made their debuts on council in November, joining Duck Paterson who has served a total of 30 years on council and consecutively since 1990. Johnson had served previously from 2002 to 2008.
North Cowichan welcomed a new mayor and a significantly different council. Al Siebring, who has spent almost a decade on council in the Municipality of North Cowichan, won the mayor’s position with 3,017 votes in the election, just 10 votes ahead of long-time mayor Jon Lefebure, who had 3,007 votes in the preliminary results.
North Cowichan’s new council includes incumbent Rob Douglas, who took 4,223 votes, incumbent Kate Marsh with 3,821 votes, and newbies Christopher Justice with 3,486 votes, Tek Manhas with 3,010 votes, Rosalie Sawrie with 3,009 votes and Debra Toporowski with 2,916 votes.
Siebring, a former radio broadcaster and a past president of the BC Conservative Party, said on election night that he intends to get to work as quickly as possible to get the business of council on track under his stewardship.
“This council is an interesting mix of people, and I’ve gotten to know some of them during the election campaign,” he said.
“Nobody comes to the council table looking to make things worse for North Cowichan, so I’m looking forward to good things for our community. It should be an interesting four years on council.”
In Saltair, Lynne Smith was excited about becoming the new Cowichan Valley Regional District director for Area G, replacing retiring incumbent Mel Dorey after winning the CVRD’s only four-person race.
Smith, a 27-year resident of Saltair, won the post with 441 votes – well ahead of runner-up Rod Smith’s total of 227.
Smith was especially proud how she didn’t waver among some of the contentious things that were happening during the campaign. Having been given a clear mandate, Smith is anxious to get on with the job of representing everyone’s best interests in the community.
“What’s so good it indicates we’re ready to move forward with change and they want somebody who’s going to represent them,” she said. “Now the community can get away from being so fragmented. It’s going to be really healing for the community.”
The only local area that returned the status qu0 on Oct. 20 was North Oyster (Area H) where Mary Marcotte will continue in a position she has occupied since 1996.
But it was close. Marcotte edged challenger Murray McNab by just nine votes.
Ian Morrison, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s director on the board for Area F for 10 years and vice-chair of the board for the past year, was elected the new chairman of the CVRD at the new board’s inaugural meeting on Nov. 7.
Morrison was challenged at the meeting for the chairperson position by Stone, and Klaus Kuhn, director for Youbou/Meade Lake. Stone dropped out of the race after the first ballot, and Morrison defeated Kuhn on the second ballot in a 10-5 vote.
Morrison said in an interview at the time that his priorities as chairman are second to the will of the board, but he’d like to build on the successes the district has had at improving community engagement and consultations.
He said he wants to take it to the next level and improve the public’s interactions with the CVRD even more.
“The organization itself is on a fairly firm footing, but there are specific areas where I think we can improve,” Morrison said.
“One of those is the time it takes for us to process development, zoning and other applications, which I would like to see sped up. The numbers of applications being received is increasing, but we need more human resources and that’s a problem.”
Other members of the CVRD’s new board include Area B’s Sierra Acton, who will also serve as vice-chairperson, Area A’s Blaise Salmon, Area C’s Mike Wilson, Area D’s Lori Iannidinardo, Area E’s Alison Nicholson, Area G’s Lynne Smith, Area H’s Mary Marcotte and Area I’s Klaus Kuhn.
Tim McGonigle represents the Town of Lake Cowichan at the board table, while the Town of Ladysmith is represented by Stone and the City of Duncan is represented by Michelle Staples.
Siebring, Douglas and Marsh represent North Cowichan at the CVRD’s table.
— with files from Mike Gregory