Former reporter Peter Rusland is making a bid to occupy a North Cowichan councillor seat, putting his name on the ballot for the Oct. 20 municipal election.
Rusland, 62, spent 27 years as a reporter in the Valley at the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial and the Duncan Free Press/South Cowichan Echo/Chemainus Valley Courier between 1990 and 2017. He feels attending countless meetings gives him a vast knowledge of the inner workings of council and a strong awareness of the issues.
“I know the background and understand many of the prickly issues facing our multi-ethnic municipality at a crossroads between smart growth and sprawl, prosperity and rising taxes, long-term jobs and unemployment,” Rusland indicated.
“Reporting locally also lent me a unique appreciation about the reality of municipal policies and procedures, and the efforts needed to address our pressing problems.”
He thought long and hard about making a four-year commitment as a councillor before deciding to enter the race.
“I am in a very good life position to offer team-based ideas and to gather citizen input regarding our list of complex, critical issues facing North Cowichan,” Rusland noted.
“It’s time for change on North Cowichan council to bring fresh, green-based growth to our great municipality.”
He added a clean environment, lower taxes and more jobs top his list of big issues.
“Of course, I sure don’t pretend to have all the answers, but realize council has basically grown stale under our current crop of committed, intelligent councillors,” Rusland pointed out.
“I believe I’m an ideal candidate as a vocal, working North Cowichan taxpayer frustrated and disappointed about how our municipality is run, and how we are missing our potential. North Cowichan residents expect and deserve far more from their elected leaders.
“Action by council is needed now in working with developers to build truly affordable homes for homeless folks and families alike; provide urgent and long-term health care for our aging population; snuff smoke and air pollution afflicting all citizens; treat our waste water to clean levels; protect our forests, farmlands, aquifers and ecosystems from sprawl; and to invite clean, sunrise businesses here to widen our tax base and keep tax hikes low or nil.”
Rusland added no council can operate in a vacuum, it must listen to the citizens who elect and pay them, and act upon residents’ constructive feedback.
“Residents must feel welcome, and have their ideas heard at a creative municipal hall free of secrecy, arrogance and animosity.”
North Cowichan’s welcome mat is frayed, he noted, with public opinion increasingly taking a back seat to staff reports and costly studies.
Rusland cited more public transit, including commuter rail, as crucial for an alternative to cars while fences need mending with local First Nations, youth need hope for a future here and developers deserve timely, fair answers from staff about their proposals.
The situation with the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit and the dispute with neighbours over noise levels is also high on Rusland’s agenda for a resolution.
“I’m not intimate with every issue and nook and cranny,” he conceded. “I’m just a step ahead having covered these meetings.”
Rusland visualizes a green, lean and keen showpiece of community cooperation in North Cowichan. “Indeed, it’s time to make that vision a reality starting on Oct. 20,” he pointed out.