Every four years candidates, some expected and others surprising, put in their bid to run for a locally elected position. Election season, as with every kind of election, brings politics to the forefront – candidate signs are plunked on to a supporter’s lawn, posters stapled on every utility pole, and candidates ensure the public sees them out and about.
What’s less obvious are the policies each candidate supports, especially in a rural, small town setting like the North Island. Coy candidates might stay hush-hush on controversial issues while others make it a centerpiece to their campaign. But one thing is certain – the public deserves to know exactly what each candidate plans to do during their tenure, if elected.
It’s a drawn out, old adage that politics is a game of popularity. That’s untrue. At the heart of it, voters want a candidate who they can connect with, who they agree with, or who have aligning principles they can support. With that said, it’s a matter of voting on the issues. But what issues are affecting our region?
Drugs and alcohol
BC Coroner Service published a report during the summer updating us on the current opioid crisis. Unsurprisingly, the North Island has seen a growing impact over the past few months. So much so in fact the rates of fatal overdoses are startling.
Last year the North Island region (Comox-North) had 37 overdoses and of those 17 lives were lost because of illicit drugs laced with fentanyl. Those are 17 individuals that lived and worked in our own Northern communities. Not to mention the devastating impacts its had on the victims’ families.
It seems discussing the drug crisis is a bit of a taboo subject in our towns, but why is that the case? The more we talk about the impacts, no matter how uncomfortable, the easier it is to find a solution.
RELATED: North Island Drug Crisis
Port Hardy RCMP released a quarterly report on crimes committed within the community. The town saw 126 incidents involving public intoxication. In the first quarterly report, the RCMP reported only 49 public intoxication incidents. To be fair, there is always a rise in numbers during summer months due to the change in weather.
Regardless, that’s a huge increase and warrants a proactive response by the municipal hall. For example, many police officers are choosing to escort inebriated individuals to a shelter or back to their home, rather than arresting them and placing them in jail for the night.
RELATED: RCMP Q1 Report
RELATED: RCMP Q2 Report
An apartment complex had a fire that displaced all the residents in the building sometime last year. A few of those residents, having gone through a traumatic experience already, scrambled to find a new home. This kind of event was indicative of a larger picture. Port Hardy has little options for single, working individuals. It’s hard to find an apartment that meets living standards since so many buildings are quite old, some dating as far back as three decades without renovations.
Since the old Island Copper mine shut down in 1996 – a major contributor to local events and projects around town – it’s been strenuous for the municipal hall to adapt to the changing times. What can councillors do to encourage small business in Port Hardy?
When big competitors are stifling local residents from opening a store it seems to be a daunting task for investors or entrepreneurs. For example, we used to have a local grocery store that shut down for whatever reason, but now we’re left with only one option. I’m sure the municipal hall could throw in a few policies here and there to incentivize small business growth.
These issues are what candidates could talk about during campaigning time and hopefully spur community discussion.