Innovation key for North Cowichan candidate Douglas

Local activist and writer Rob Douglas kicked off his campaign for a seat on North Cowichan council with a rally at the Duncan United Church on Sept. 9. Born and raised in North Cowichan, Douglas has been involved with many local organizations.

He previously ran for municipal council in the 2011 local elections, and, with 2,000 votes fell just short of making it.

That significant support is driving his decision to try again.

"There’s been great support from the community and even from people who are already elected," he said.

He said he has a list of key priorities he’ll be stressing as election time approaches in November.

"The local economy, affordable housing, protecting the environment and fighting climate change, supporting local farming, long-term planning and fiscal responsibility are all important," he said.

"Also I think we can work a lot more cooperatively. At North Cowichan in the past few years there’s been so much divisiveness, so many 4-3 votes. That’s one area I think I could contribute."

With so many issues that cannot be fixed locally, there is still plenty that can be accomplished by local politicians, according to Douglas.

"North Cowichan has $40 million budget, a whole bunch of talented and dedicated staff, and probably owns more land than any other public or private entity in the region."

He agreed that downloading by senior levels of government is "just getting worse" as time goes by and it is "driving up our property taxes and our cost of living."

But, there are new ideas being tried successfully elsewhere and Douglas wants to see more innovative thinking when searching for alternatives to "jacking up our taxes".

He cited the City of Nelson, which is getting $15 million a year from its energy utility.

"Maybe that model’s not for us, but there are other ways of doing things out there and we’ve got to start looking at them. Some of us can afford tax increases but for a lot of people on fixed incomes it could end up costing them their house."

Douglas has handed out 1,500 cards and will ramp up his door-to-door campaign.