MP Gord Johns, mid-Island mayors gather for first-ever meeting
PHOTO: Left to right is mayors Mayco Noel (Ucluelet), Jesse Ketler (Comox Valley Regional District chair), mayors Leslie Baird (Cumberland), Brian Weise (Qualicum Beach), Josie Osborne (Tofino), Sharie Minions (Port Alberni), Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, and mayor Bob Wells (Courtenay).
(Supplied by Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns)
Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns wants to make a meeting of the mayors a regular event.
Johns was in Port Alberni on Feb. 12, where he met with mid-Vancouver Island mayors along with the chair of the Comox Valley Regional District.
“I am accustomed to meeting with First Nations elected and hereditary chiefs through their tribal council and Council of Ha’wiih but there has been no similar opportunity to connect with local mayors as a group to examine issues of common interest,” Johns said.
“The result was a thorough examination of the priorities of our municipal governments throughout the riding.”
The meeting was initiated by Tofino’s Mayor Josie Osborne as a means of optimizing access by local governments to federal support through effective communications with the local MP.
“I was struck by how similar the priorities are from one community to another such as wastewater treatment, general infrastructure costs and affordable housing,” Osborne said. “I think it was helpful for Gord to hear this from all of us and to consider how we can to best work together with him to push our ideas with the federal government”.
Among the topics were:
- Infrastructure, including accumulated infrastructure deficit, funding formulas and changes over past decades in federal and provincial transfers to local governments through conditional grants;
- affordable housing;
- the opioid crisis and the need for mental health and addictions support at the community level;
- RCMP costs;
- climate change and the importance of collaboration amongst and between Vancouver Island communities in regional climate action planning;
- and, the need for regional and provincial coordination in adaptation actions;
- What Johns calls “the Pacific wild salmon emergency” and its impact on local communities, especially on First Nations;
- reconciliation with Indigenous peoples;
- And, the Liberal government’s stated commitment to childcare and the need to deliver on this commitment.
After the gathering, it was agreed by all that they should reconvene at least on an annual basis.
The meeting included Johns, Osborne, and mayors Sharie Minions (Port Alberni), Mayco Noel (Ucluelet), Bob Wells (Courtenay), Brian Wiese (Qualicum Beach), Leslie Baird (Cumberland), and Comox Valley Regional District Chair Jesse Ketler.