Cutting spending key for North Cowichan mayoral candidate Wallener

He’s never run for North Cowichan council before but Damir Wallener is up for the challenge of becoming mayor of the farflung municipality.

"We’ve been on the street talking to people for a couple of months now," he said.

Wallener may already be known to some voters because he ran for the provincial Conservatives in the last election, losing out to Bill Routley in the Cowichan Valley riding.

But that doesn’t mean he wants to bring party politics to the municipal council chambers. Quite the reverse, in fact.

"I don’t think party politics has any place there," he said.

The mayor’s job is to lead a team but it’s important to remember that municipal politics is a team effort, Wallener pointed out.

He said he frequently attends North Cowichan meetings and when he’s unable to do so, he still keeps in touch by way of the Internet broadcasts of the meetings and has seen that the current crop around the table can be "fractious" which Wallener says leads to their missing the point: they are there to represent the voters.

He said he’s hearing on the doorstep that "a lot of people say they are feeling disenfranchised, that no one is really listening to them."

So bringing the concerns of the public to the table is going to be an important part of what Wallener wants to do at North Cowichan.

Another aspect of his platform is finding ways to rein in municipal spending.

"There’s strong concerns out there about how much money is being spent," he said.

"People are upset about that. We have to decide how to cut back, avoid these large increases in spending."

Wallener also has his eye on environmental issues in North Cowichan.

"I’ve been following the problems at the regional district down in Shawnigan Lake and there are certainly water issues in North Cowichan," he said.

"There’s the aquifer in Chemainus; they’re talking about taking more from that, and of course there are the concerns about Somenos Marsh, too."

Wallener actually lives just outside North Cowichan in Area E on Sahtlam Road.

"But we have rental property in North Cowichan. That’s my community. It’s a geographically big place. If you look at a map of University Village, I’m closer to it than Chemainus is," he said. "We are an interesting, big community."