Metchosin will get a new mayor next month.
Councillors Kyara Kahakauwila and Marie-Térèse Little are competing for the seat vacated by Mayor John Ranns, who has served eight terms at the district’s helm, but isn’t running in the Oct. 15 municipal election.
Both are campaigning on promises to preserve the rural character of the community against encroaching development.
Kahakauwila served three terms as Metchosin councillor from 1999 until 2008, when she ran for mayor and was defeated by Ranns. She was re-elected to council in 2014 and has served the last two terms. In January 2021, Kahakauwila ran into controversy for attending a friend’s wedding in Mexico despite public health advice to avoid non-essential travel. She stepped down as deputy mayor and apologized.
Little was first elected to council in 2018 with 739 votes — fewer than 100 votes behind Kahakauwila, who was elected with 820.
Kahakauwila said Metchosin needs to maintain its rural and agricultural status, and her campaign is focused on keeping taxes low for residents, both to preserve larger pieces of agricultural land and to prevent the development that’s approaching the district’s borders. The massive Royal Bay community in Colwood is being constructed only a few kilometres northeast of Metchosin.
“How do we continue so that what we have in Metchosin can stay the way it is?” Kahakauwila said. “Keeping our taxes low helps to maintain those larger pieces of property.”
Kahakauwila also wants to see more council transparency.
“Metchosin has always been very big on public participation within our meetings, but I think there’s a way that Metchosin can improve reporting to the public on a whole host of matters, including finances, bylaw enforcement and some of the other measures we’re taking,” she said. “How can we get more information to the public so they can understand what we’re doing and they can see that transparency?”
With one term under her belt, Little is campaigning on a promise of accountable government, a rural preservation plan and sustainable agriculture.
She said accountable government includes respectful debate, being open to diverse opinions and adherence to municipal governing rules like the Local Government Act and Metchosin’s Official Community Plan.
“With the foundation of a good governance structure then we can begin to develop and implement what I call the ‘Rural Metchosin Preservation Plan’ to ensure long-term viability of rural Metchosin and avoid amalgamation,” Little said. “We need to have good land use and agricultural planning, fair and equitable bylaws and bylaw enforcement.”
Little said she wants to see a strategic plan that puts an emphasis on sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.
“We need, absolutely and fundamentally, to support agricultural-based businesses to grow our local economy,” she said. “For food security but also to support farmers within our region.
“Metchosin doesn’t have an agricultural plan on paper and we need one. I’ve been talking about this for four years.”
Only one incumbent councillor — Sharie Epp — is in this race this fall, with seven new candidates vying for the four available councillor positions.
>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org