Debate got heated during the recent Courtenay election campaign. Voters and candidates bickered over bike lanes, municipal spending, and housing affordability, among other issues.
Groups like Take Back Comox Valley, led by Rod McLean of the local Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership, added a bizarre twist by suggesting that local government was being directed “foreign actors.”
Another supposed citizen group, Comox Valley Mainstream, was headed by another person with dealership ties.
Former Hyundai car dealer Sue Finneron and her group claimed to be focused on clean water, sewage treatment, police and fire protection, garbage collection, and basic infrastructure. They said they were working for “new and positive changes at City Hall.”
Voters had other ideas.
In a heated campaign that saw 15 candidates vying for 6 council spots, and 3 for the mayor’s job, voters decided to re-elect five of the former councillors, turf one, and bring on a progressive newbie.
In a decisive result, incumbent mayor Bob Wells, along with incumbent councillors Mel McCollum, Dave Frisch, Will Cole-Hamilton, Wendy Morin, and Doug Hillian, reclaimed their seats at City Hall for another 4-year term.
It’s a big win for what has been loosely described as a progressive council. On her campaign website, McCollum vowed “to ensure that growth is a vehicle for positive and progressive change in Courtenay, and development improves the livability and vibrancy of our city’s neighborhoods.”
Voters turfed longtime councillor Manno Theos, who was a constant fly in the ointment for the progressives.
Instead they chose a first-timer, Evan Jolicoeur, who speaks a similar political language as his fellow councillors. A registered nurse and addictions counsellor, Jolicoeur campaigned on a promise to deal with the housing affordability crisis, support small business, the arts and culture, and conserve Courtenay’s natural beauty.
Doug Hillian, who led at the poles with 3,067 votes, said the result shows the community is “concerned about issues such as climate change, about reconciliation, about densifying rather than sprawl development.”
“I think it’s an endorsement that we’re on the right track. We’re not perfect, we know there are issues that we have to deal with, but I think it’s pretty clear that people in Courtenay are supportive of the work that this council has done.”