Change brings breath of fresh air to CVRD

Optimism. That’s been the pervading feeling this week as municipal governments in the Cowichan Valley have sworn in their newly-elected members.

The Nov. 15 elections saw a lot of changeover in some areas, with many new, young faces joining the more experienced returnees at board and council tables. Our previous governments have done a pretty good job overall, but the new blood really has injected a lot of energy and enthusiasm into what can become rather staid and routine proceedings.

Nowhere was that more on display than at the inaugural meeting of the Cowichan Valley Regional District Wednesday evening.

A packed house was there to welcome four brand new faces to the board table – five if you count Municipality of North Cowichan representative Rob Douglas who was elected to his first term last month.

That’s more new blood than we’ve ever seen at the CVRD.

Change was in the air immediately.

Newcomer Matteus Clement, representing Area C, suggested that directors be able to ask questions of those who were nominated for the position of board chair.

The brand new directors, in particular, wanted more information as they were not familiar with the personalities involved.

We admit, we experienced the same trepidation at the idea that some of the directors expressed.

Those of us who’ve followed the CVRD, or sat on it, for any length of time are painfully familiar with the sometime-propensity of the 15-person body to descend into exhausting, repetitive and lengthy discussion that can end without a decision being made.

“Questions” become a thinlyveiled way to make speeches. We were wrong.

What happened next was like a breath of fresh air.

Each of the four new directors asked one question apiece, which was answered in turn by each of the candidates. Returning directors refrained from muddying the waters.

Dir. Sonia Furstenau of Area B told the board that the answers helped her to make up her mind on who to vote for.

For the CVRD this was a huge departure, and an amazing display of cooperation and getting the job done.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure, who proved to be the successful candidate for the chairmanship, expressed afterwards what many were thinking. He pointed out, rightfully, how well the adoption of a new idea had gone, and admitted he’d sat at the table for years and never thought to ask questions of the candidates before. Change can be a really good thing.

This could prove to be a watershed moment for the board. It certainly provides some momentum for them to build upon.