City council has the mayor’s back.
Chris Burger received support from city councillors Monday night when he asked for responses to his speech last week calling for a mayor’s caucus to better represent Island interests in the halls of power in Victoria and Ottawa.
Speaking at a Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce meeting last week at The Beach Club, Burger said Islanders “need to assert ourselves. I’m just not feeling like we’re getting any attention. We don’t have an effective voice, someone to pull us together.”
Those who spoke Monday night at the council table seemed to agree with Burger’s assertion.
“We miss out on Vancouver Island and I don’t think it’s fair and it’s about time someone stood up and said hey, we are over here,” said Coun. Sue Powell.
“It’s about time we started working together as an Island,” said Coun. Carrie Powell-Davidson.
Much of Burger’s complaint centres around infrastructure money, or the lack thereof in his perception, coming to the Island. That includes the Island’s rail system, which Burger believes should be re-started with provincial and federal money to bring back industry.
Coun. Marc Levebvre agreed “our voices are not being heard” and he said he was fully behind getting the railway up to standard.
“Let’s get the rails up and running and let’s get the big trucks off the road,” he said.
In other council news from Monday night:
• Council gave the go-ahead to six different special event applications which centred around the need for approval of street closures, parade routes, park use, etc. The applications approved were from and related to: Ballenas Secondary School graduation prom parade, Coastal Community Credit Union Employee Family Beach Day, Summer by the Sea street market, Oceanside 10K Run and the ALS Walk, PGOSA summer events and the Friends of Foster Park Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween Pumpkin Walk.
• Jan Kretz of Adventures Sea Kayaking made a presentation to council and asked for some changes to her arrangement with the city to use the old hovercraft landing site in Community Park for her business. Last summer, despite an agreement with the city for the use of the site, the city effectively took away the site for the month of August when it painted a labyrinth on the hovercraft landing area. Council directed staff Monday to look into Kretz’ concerns — including signage — and report back.
• Island Health medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback gave council a report on health at the local level. There weren’t many highlights, but Hasselback did point to the region’s lower-than-average birth rate and a higher-than-average death rate from motor vehicle accidents. Coun. Bill Neufeld asked questions about housing costs in the region and how they related to health. He said “housing is a grossly underrated concern when it comes to health issues” and Hasselback agreed.
• In the closest vote of the night (4-3), council passed a staff recommendation related to carriage houses, specifically related to changing the setback for these dwelling from the back property line to six metres from three metres for two-storey carriage houses. Councillors Neufeld, Powell-Davison and Al Greir were opposed.
• Council passed a motion to increase sewer user rates six per cent, with councillors Powell and Neufeld opposed.
• Council unanimously gave three readings to the water service system amendment bylaw.
• Council adopted what were dubbed “strategic priority themes” put forward by Mayor Chris Burger, the culmination of what Powell-Davidson said were many discussions amongst council. Only Neufeld was opposed.