Chris Istace

Independent for North Cowichan Council

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Biography

submitted by the candidate or their team
A local Chemainus independant retail business owner and resident of Chemainus for nearly a decade. Serve on Chemainus Business Improvement Association as President and Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society board as Director. Previous experience as an elected 2 term city councillor.

I have called North Cowichan home for nearly a decade and in that time my family and I have become deeply connected to the region and the people. Deepening our roots, we opened a successful small retail business in Chemainus on the same street as our home. As a passionate community advocate, I serve as the President of the Chemainus Business Improvement Association, working hard to foster a successful small businesses atmosphere. Alongside my work on the CBIA I serve as a Director of the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society doing advocacy work, trail development, maintenance, and raising awareness of the amazing hiking and biking opportunities in North Cowichan’s community forests.

Managing the ever-changing landscape of small business has taught me to adapt to new ideas quickly when needed but always to pay attention to expenses and revenues in every decision. In addition to over two decades owning a business, I worked for 21 years in the resource industry, starting in service, then moving into operations management and technical sales. This taught me the importance of careful planning while creating operational and capital budgets. Lastly, in the realm of public service and governance, I was elected to two terms as city councilor in my previous home city. In my time on council we worked hard to get rising municipal debt under control and to address a severe housing shortage.

Reason for running

submitted by the candidate or their team
I am running for council to bring together the varied voices of our strong community to tackle the challenges of growth in a sensitive time for our youth, economy, and environment. We need to work together as a community and I pledge to support every person in North Cowichan.

- Support infill developments in existing communities to grow local business and meet market housing demands to increase affordability. Town centres used to be a mix of shops, homes, apartments and services. Bringing back this form of development will increase options and benefit our local economy. This would include helping homeowners fast-track renovations and property changes to add laneway housing, granny flats, and basement suites. 

- Support small business and the local economy to foster a more resilient and engaged region. Create incentives for business owners to invest into their properties or expand. Create an economic development committee at North Cowichan and have it work alongside the planning and development departments.

- Improving the working relationship with local Cowichan First Nations in all matters that affect their communities by including engagement and consultation as a core principle. This includes being mindful and respectful of the historical and cultural significance of many places that have been developed or are considered for development.

- Engage Provincial and Federal governments to return to building social housing that they were once strongly committed to. Affordable housing, and housing for those most at risk in our community can only be achieved with the involvement of all levels of government, especially those at the upper levels.

- Continue to strengthen our region’s biking and walking infrastructure, most notably by continuing the creation of our updated Transportation Master Plan. We can build a community for people in which cars are a convenient and viable part of our transportation mix, without building for cars at the expense of people. Communities thrive when homes, retail, amenities, and employment are close together and easily accessible. When people are out in their community it becomes a safer, more social, and happier place. 

- Adapt proactively to climate change by tackling systems and policies that lack resilience. Look at where are we are vulnerable and seek to bolster the local environment’s ability to support our communities. 

- Preserve greenfield (undeveloped) areas and protect sensitive habitats. Look at how intact community forests can provide tourism, recreation, and health benefits for our visitors and residents alike. This includes seeing through the current Municipal Forest Policy Review. 

- Understand the cost of building our communities outwards versus inwards. Every new road, water line, sewer line, pathway, park, sidewalk, and piece of municipal infrastructure creates a future maintenance cost that must be covered. By developing within our existing envelope, we benefit by the infrastructure that is already in place reducing future tax burdens while increasing tax revenue. Of course we can also build outward if we carefully evaluate the implications.

- Use my career experience in developing operational and capital budgets, and my small business experience to aid council in spending funds effectively. Council must have the utmost respect of tax funds raised from the residents it serves.

- Begin work on an updated Chemainus Revitalization Plan now that the OCP work is complete and adopted. Explore if more localized planning is required for Crofton, Maple Bay, and the unique neighbourhoods of North Cowichan. 

- Continue to support the regional recreation infrastructure in which North Cowichan has endeavoured to invest. The local mountains of Pi'paam (Tzouhalem), Swuq'us (Prevost), Maple Mountain, and Mount Richards are well served by the efforts of the Cowichan trail Stewardship Society. Their work to grow economic and health benefits for the region through recreation and eco-tourism is an important part of our future.

chrisistace.com www.chrisistace.com