Sunday, October 30, 2011

Black Mold

The following list of 6 issues was put together by the  as part of their campaign to educate and advocate for effective protection and enhancement of natural systems and human quality of life in the Comox Valley. They've identified issues, why they matter, some facts, and provided questions for candidates. Take a look. Ask the people in your town who are running for Mayor, Councillor, and/or Regional Board seats where they stand. CVCS has called these "environmental" issues, but as I think you'll see, they have implications for long term financial and social sustainability as well.

There's a lot of talk about "common sense" and "cutting taxes" as the ways to deal with local government (and senior government) challenges. Don't be fooled. As in a recent issue of Walrus Magazine illustrates so well, by avoiding smart investments in community quality of life, we end up paying big time as tax payers and as residents, in the long term. Be smart. Ask your candidates to be smart. Vote smart!

1. Land Use
Why it matters: As land is developed, the natural balance of water flow, drainage, soil type,
tree cover and wildlife habitat is altered. We must minimize the impacts on the ecosystems
and their services that support all forms of life in the Valley.
What are the facts: From 1992 to 2002, 42% of the Comox Valley's rare, sensitive areas
we re lost, reduced or fragmented. The CV Sustainability Strategy (CVSS), the Regional
Growth Strategy (RGS), and the CVCS's Nature Without Borders all urge change in the
wa y we design our communities: increased densification, preservation of agricultural lands,
and protection of sensitive ecosystems are recommended. Though all local governments
endorse these plans, most development continues to take place on and in natural areas.
Question for Candidates: What will you do to stop and reverse the continuing loss
and fragmentation of natural areas?

Why it matters: Climate change is resulting in rapidly melting ice caps and glaciers, rising
sea levels, more severe weather events, floods, droughts, and is altering life cycles of
ma n y species of terrestrial and marine wildlife.
What are the facts: The Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy set a clear goal of a 33%
re d u ctio n in 2007 by 2020, as mandated by the BC government, and an
80% reduction by 2050. The majority (55%) of GHG emissions in the Valley are caused by
transportation. However, we continue to approve new developments that do not increase
housing densities to levels that would support higher public transportation usage and few
me a su re s to reduce GHG emissions have been implemented.
Question for Candidates: What will you do to reduce GHG emissions and meet
these targets?

3. Transportation
Why it matters: A low density sprawl pattern of land use that separates residential areas
from commercial and business areas, along with limited public transit requires most Valley
re sid e n ts to rely on their cars to get around. Increased automobile use increases pollution,
vehicle congestion and expensive road infrastructure costs.
Wh a t are the facts: Transportation causes 55% of GHG emissions in the Comox Valley.
Many cyclists do not feel safe commuting around the Comox Valley due to a lack of safe
bicycle routes. Many BC communities today are developing systems of walking and cycling
ro u te s. However, in the Comox Valley, few, if any, examples of pedestrian and cycling-
friendly developments exist.
Question for candidates: What will you do to reduce automobile use and develop a
system of walking and cycling routes in the Comox Valley?

4. Unfunded Infrastructure Liability
Wh y it matters: The long term costs of maintaining, upgrading and replacing existing infra-
structure (lifecycle costs) such as sewer and water lines, landfill sites, roads and bridges in
the Comox Valley are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Low density
la n d use patterns and "curb and gutteC infrastructure choices increase costs and damage
wa te rsh e d health.
Wh a t are the facts: The initial cost of infrastructure is only about 20% of the lifecycle cost;
the other 80% represents a future unfunded liability that falls to the taxpayer. Infrastructure
lia b ility can be reduced and watershed health maintained during development by utilizing
green infrastructure, higher densities, and by directing new development to infill areas,
wh e re existing infrastructure already exists.
Question for candidates: What is the total cost of the unfunded infrastructure liability
in your jurisdiction and how will you address this problem?

5. Monitoring/Accountability
Wh y it matters: The best strategies and plans are only effective if properly implemented.
Mo n ito rin g of the progress made toward reaching targets and goals set out in the Regional
Growth Strategy, the Sustainability Strategy and Nature Without Borders, will lead to better
transparency and increased accountability.
Wh a t are the facts: Despite the excellent directives offered in these various plans and
strategies, developments continue to be proposed and approved that do not follow these
documents. Little or no monitoring of the implementation of these plans and strategies is
done to ensure that targets and goals are achieved.
Question for candidates: What will you do to ensure the Regional Growth Strategy
and the Sustainability Strategy have effective monitoring in place to measure how
we ll they are implemented?

6. Conserving Nature
Wh y it matters: Natural systems underlie and support our communities and their economic
and social functioning. They are responsible for a wide variety of services including the
provision of clean water and air, pollination of food crops, absorption and decomposition of
wa ste , and maintenance of healthy ecosystems.
Wh a t are the facts: Local watersheds and marine ecosystems are under increasing stress
due to alteration of natural systems through development, expanding human population,
lo ss of habitat and sensitive ecological areas, and climate change.
Question for candidates: How will you work to ensure that local government land use
decisions are based on an understanding of the value of natural systems and how
they can be protected?

Vote: Comox Valley Civic Elections - Saturday, November 19, 2011

For more information, visit the CVCS website at

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