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Two Mayor Minions: Sisters-in-law are mayors of Port Alberni and Comox

Sisters-in-law Sharie Minions and Nicole Minions are poised to spend the next four years leading their respective communities — Port Alberni and Comox

Vancouver Island now has two Mayor Minions — sisters-in-law Sharie and Nicole, who are poised to spend the next four years leading their respective communities of Port Alberni and Comox.

Nicole Minions of Comox was acclaimed as mayor after incumbent mayor Russ Arnott did not run again, while Sharie Minions was elected for a second term as mayor of Port Alberni.

Sharie Minions said when she got elected to council, she immediately began talking to her sister-in-law about it.

Nicole, who was already interested in politics, was bolstered by Sharie’s encouragement and successfully ran for a seat as councillor in 2018.

“Having a sister-in-law get involved herself was kind of what got me into the idea of running for council four years ago,” Nicole said.

The two have been friends for more than 15 years — Nicole’s brother Colin is married to Sharie — and both work in real estate. Nicole owns a Comox real estate company and Sharie is a mortgage broker and restaurant owner.

Sharie said they are “very much alike” and instantly connected when they met.

That does not mean their views align on all issues, but that’s less important than the ability to work with people and handle challenges, she said. “I’m a big believer in positive leadership and Nicole is a great example of that.”

Nicole, for her part, is looking forward to her new role and the hard work ahead. Having a family member as mayor gave her a bit of a preview on what it might be like, she said.

Sharie has helped Nicole network, introducing her to community leaders when they were at the same conferences.

When they talk about being on council, the conversation is often about shared experiences, Nicole said. The two see each other about once a month.

Nicole’s decision to run for mayor came at the last minute. She had been planning to run again as councillor but when Arnott said that he would not run again, she decided to put her name in for the job.

Born in North Vancouver, Nicole has lived in the Comox Valley for a decade. She studied entrepreneurial management and served as an executive director of a non-profit children and families’ organization prior to opening her real estate office.

A key driver for Nicole is addressing climate change. She is on the provincial Courtenay-Comox riding association for the Green Party and last year joined a group heading to Fairy Creek to support anti-logging protests.

Both Port Alberni and Comox are trying to address a shortage of affordable housing amid rising house prices.

Nicole is keen to encourage more multi-family housing options in Comox, where many homes are single-family.

Council approved a new affordable-housing policy last year that included a requirement that developers provide cash for a housing fund if amenities are not included on site in a new project.

While development has increased in Comox in the past two to three years, she said, projects are typically less than five storeys because Canadian Forces Base Comox requires lower heights because of its aircraft.

Meanwhile, Port Alberni reached out to non-profits and worked with B.C. Housing to tackle the housing affordability issue, resulting in about 300 new housing units, Sharie said.

The long-time resource-dependent town is focused on fostering a more diverse and resilient economy, she said.

The city bought the closed Somass Mill and last month put out a call for developers to help turn the lands into a mix of residential, light industrial and commercial uses with plenty of parkland.

Past downturns in the resource sector led to an exodus of young families from Port Alberni, but now they are starting to return as they see more opportunities, Sharie said.

Newcomers are also arriving seeking a better quality of life, access to outdoor activities and more affordable housing, she said.

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