All Candidates Meeting - Follow-Up Q&A from Candidate for the position of Councillor, Stephanie Coe
Port McNeill, B.C. October 3, 2022 - Not all questions submitted by the public for the All Candidates Meeting were heard at the event! The candidates have the opportunity to reply to the submitted questions in writing, and it's our pleasure to share those replies with you as they become available!
Here are the replies to the suite of questions from Councillor Candidate Stephanie Coe (Biography Below Questions.)
1. What is your stance on the Old School, tear down, re-purpose, tear down and rebuild or other-wise?
a. Port McNeill Harbour serves a vast area of this island, the Islands and the mainland. What is your plan to make our harbour better for all commercial users?
b. Will you lobby to accommodate and attract live aboard boaters? Why, why not?
c. Are there plans to extend the harbour? If so, which portion, municipal or small craft, and how do you see this being managed or financed?
On the Old School :
-Two wings of the old school are in high use – the seniors wing and the gym wing. What is the feasibility of taking out the third wing and replacing it with a two-story multi-agency multi-purpose building that is a one-stop shop for government services including Services BC, Services Canada, the Town Office, local NGO’s, and has a small internet café so people can have extended use of public computers, free wifi so people can work, and a social space where people can meet on rainy days.
On the Harbour
- The harbour Commission should be tasked with identifying the needs of commercial users and get feedback about extending the harbour and all season needs.
- Port McNeill could market itself as a live aboard community, but to be attractive to people who live aboard boats we would need to create a meeting place so that people have ways to develop a healthy social life.
3. The Community Forest Reserve has been saved. How do you envision community forest funds being used now and into the future?
4. What is your experience in understanding and/or managing public finances?
5. New councils often come with new ideas. Demonstrating your knowledge of Town Finance, how would you go about funding the most significant change you are suggesting
-Community forestry funds should be used for community projects and promoting forest interpretation tours, perhaps paying trail guides for short hikes as a visitor’s activity.
- I reported on Port McNeill financial reports and asked council questions about taxation and spending for two years while covering council for the Mid Coast Beacon newspaper.
- Port McNeill has a very experienced Economic Development Professional on staff who would be tasked with applying for the wide array of infrastructure grants, community resilience grants, Foundation grants and other funding from public and private sources including public-private partnerships (PPP).
LAND USE & DEVELOPMENT
6. The Town of Port McNeill owns waterfront land at the end of Beach Drive, known locally as Hoy Bay, what is your vision for this land, what should be done with it?
a. What are your thoughts about recognizing Indigenous Rights and Title where it overlaps with vacant municipal land?
7. The issue of vacation rentals (Air BnB, for instance) was deferred during the rezoning process, in favor of maintaining the current Bed and Breakfast bylaw. What is your position on vacation rentals in Port McNeill.
8. Do you view short-term rentals as a business? To what extent or end can people participate in commerce out of their own home?
9. What is your perception of the status of the resource sector, and how do you think that relates to community planning?
- Hoy Bay should be zoned for recreation-use, the intended purpose when it was purchased by the town.
- It’s important to recognize we live on unceded territories, I don’t think we have enough vacant land for a rights and title issue to come up in the next few years given the amount of crown land and private TFL.
-Residents should be able do vacation rentals on their property, but it should be restricted when it comes to absentee owners and unoccupied dwellings, so non-residents don’t buy houses to rent out as vacation homes.
- People should be free and able to run a non-intrusive commercial business from their own home.
- With regards to the resource sector, I am concerned about the lack of succession planning. People are retiring from our core industries. That’s hundreds of years of experience being lost without replacement workers being trained now to replace them. We need to start planning about how to meet the challenges of a shrinking workforce and look at community planning with an eye to recruitment and retention.
10. For the incumbents, Re: urban chickens, can you explain the position you took during the bylaw rezoning process and your position on urban chickens if re-elected? For the others, what is your position on urban chickens in Port McNeill.
11. Please explain what you think went wrong in the conversation around re-zoning this year?
- I think 4 or fewer chickens are fine in town as long as they are not a nuisance to neighbours and in good condition with a proper hen house and a fenced area, the henhouse must be maintained, and chickens monitored and not left to roam off property. No roosters.
- Around the rezoning- It’s my opinion that a cookie cutter approach to public engagement was used that didn’t fit our community work culture profile. There should have been a dedicated OCP office open for pop-ins where people could talk together and discuss, get input, look at the maps, ponder, and give deeper feedback. A lot of money was spent on the OCP and there was no capacity building for our local professionals, I asked about it, and not having a local expert working on these projects causes information to be missed, reduces effectiveness and impacts community buy-in. It’s a point to be noticed that there is less buy-in when non-local consultants do the work and write the plans.
13. What are your ideas to increase recreation opportunities in Port McNeill? Specifically, are you in favor of increasing staff resources dedicated to recreation, like has recently been done in Port Hardy, and what is your vision for affordable development of recreational infrastructure?
14. What are your thoughts on having a waterfront park and gathering place geared to children and families?
- I am absolutely in favour of having a full-time staff who wears two hats: a volunteer support and recreation event planning. Our Economic Development grant writer can find funding for this position.
- We should have a covered area at the harbour front so people can sit out when it’s raining. What kind of park? An exercise park for big people?
HR, ADMINISTRATION, GOVERNANCE
15. Do you think the Town of Port McNeill's communication strategy with its residents is adequate? If not what kind of changes would you like to see occur?
16. Not all ideas and priorities move forward. How well would you work with Council to get 1 or 2 ideas moved forward that aren’t your favourite? How would you personally determine which idea gets precedence over all the other worthy ideas?
17. What does "being the face of Port McNeill" mean to you and how do you see yourself encouraging positivity and development in our town?
18. What is your commitment to this council? Will you run for another office during your elected term?
- I don’t think Port McNeill's communication strategy is adequate, it assumes everyone uses Facebook and the minutes of past meetings have been behind in being posted.
-Working together and debating priorities is not a problem as long as hard conversations are carried out respectfully.
- To me representing Port McNeill means participating in all events that volunteers put on and showing our thanks of their hard work by having a community volunteer appreciation day,
- If elected my commitment is to Port McNeill and I would run for no other office.
19. September 30th is Orange Shirt Day. What are a couple steps that Port McNeill has or can take towards reconciliation?
-We should ask our indigenous neighbours in the Mount Waddington Regional District what Port McNeill should do, get their recommendations for action and move on that.
20. The Mayor has the important duty of overseeing the day to day operations and working closely with the Chief Administrative Officer. If elected, how often would you be in the Town Office, how much time can dedicate to the job?
- The Chief Administration Officer (CAO) oversees day to day operations of the town, not the mayor.
22. What is your plan to address the Health Care crisis we are experiencing in Port McNeill?
23. How aggressively will you compete within the region to get more health infrastructure specifically in Port McNeill, like a bathing centre?
Twenty years ago, before VIHA, we had regular north island community health strategic planning meetings. We need to re-start them and come up with a strategic plan for Tri-Port recruitment and retention strategies. I would like to work from the perspective that the Tri-Port communities should partner up and work together on recruitment and retention, and maybe go back to review the earlier Canadian regional model of traveling nurse practitioners and midwives. When VIHA was first announced it took what was working locally to a central model that knowledgeable people said wouldn’t work in the district. Twenty years on was their prediction correct?
Once the Town Office moves to the new government building we need, we could put the bath house at that location. It’s a great spot for one!
24. More seniors are aging in place, and there is very little housing available here that is suitable for seniors to transition to (i.e. single level, small yards, etc). What will you do to support seniors housing?
25. What do you think about investing into the large bubble demographics of seniors?
26. What do you think the number one actionable solution to Port McNeill’s housing crisis is?
I heard an idea the other day that makes a lot of sense. Approach Mosaic and open up land to invest in a seniors assisted living housing complex where seniors can have shared communal space and their own apartments. There is a lot of room on the corner of Church St and down Mine Road on the right heading to Beach Camp. There’s lots of space to build a complex and it has a great view. The community has been talking about attracting senior’s living, a complex would provide that and free up other housing.
I think we need to focus on 1-3 bedroom apartments starting at $800, we need homes for singles and families who make $18-25 an hour. If we have inadequate rentals we lose the mobile workforce and that is an emerging problem now that needs to be addressed.
The OCP community engagement results show people want medium density housing up to the Broughton campsite area, our economic development staff can research opportunities for investment building and developers.
We need to identify what the issues were that led to the daycare closures and parent’s/employees recommendations on how to ameliorate them.
Tap into what’s happening with the national day care and how to incentivize new daycares.
Leighann is the local expert on this topic.
28. What are your thoughts on the current values of tax businesses are paying in our community?
29. What is the number one thing that Port McNeill can do to attract business?
-Property taxes and business taxes are a feeling burdened , we need to have a conversation about taxation, community sustainability, and maybe user fees if conversations lead to taxes being reduced.
-What kind small and medium-sized businesses do we want to attract to Port McNeill and what can we offer them? The ESL industry is huge and growing incrementally, we can plug into that, a drawback is there is no public transportation but the plane. We should look into value-added opportunities in recycling and since our second biggest export is raw recycleds - plastic, metal and glass, maybe we should produce value added plastic products for construction materials and remolded glass.
ABOUT STEPHANIE COE
My name is Stephanie J. (for Jane) Coe, and I’m running for Councillor for Port McNeill.
I came here as a single mum in 1999 with the MoF, from 2000-2003, I moonlighted for the Mid Coast Beacon newspaper reporting on town council meetings, public meetings, and other news. Some issues are still ongoing – like no skatepark and no college presence. I operated the Nimpkish gas station for a summer and sold imports from Turkey the summers of 2009-2019.
My relevant education includes a Diploma in Forest Resource Management, a Certificate in Community Economic Development, a Bachelor’s in Sociology, and a CTDP (Certified Training and Development Professional).
The federal government recognizes Port McNeill as “under-served”. As a hub for BC Ferries, the regional headquarters for the Ministry of Forests, Community Futures, and the RDMW, and a high school attended by students from six communities, we deserve more. I will work towards getting Port McNeill served better by Service BC, Service Canada, and North Island College.
My platform concerns Economic and workforce development. We should identify industry workforce needs and critical issues, implement relevant recommendations from the 2010 workforce strategy, prioritize recommendations supporting small business, examine the economics of value-added recycling and how we can tie into that industry.
In the OCP fostering Community Wellness is a priority, we need to define how. From people I interviewed comments included a need for a ‘persons-at-risk’ intake and more mental health resources.
Implementing the OCP and a 25 Year community development Plan is a huge task and needs imagination. We need to do long-term (25-year) planning around what people said they wanted building density housing up by Broughton Campsite and re-purposing the Old School site.
I’ve observed other communities from a community development perspective and what we can do in our community and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get things done.