Tanya Shannon and Ted McGill are both running for Area B (Beaufort) in the ACRD byelection. Shannon had been elected in October 2018 but was required to give up her seat with the court-ordered byelection. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Alberni-Clayoquot byelection candidates lay out platforms

BY MIKE YOUDS

Special to the News

Candidates outnumbered electors at a meet-and-greet held Monday for twin byelections in Beaufort and Cherry Creek.

And that was after one of the candidates, Tanya Shannon, had to cancel due to illness.

With only a couple of earnest voters plying them with questions, the three other candidates had plenty of time to share thoughts on priorities and issues in the two rural areas.

Shannon and Dianne Bodnar, who were elected to represent Areas B and F respectively last fall, are back in the race, determined to reclaim seats at the ACRD board table. Ted McGill is once again challenging Shannon while Aaron Brevick has stepped up as a contender in Cherry Creek.

Bodnar, a retired registered nurse, defeated Darren DeLuca by seven votes in the October 2018 election.

“I’ve been very honest, seeing as it is my first time in politics,” said Bodnar, a retired registered nurse. “I want to listen and hear what Cherry Creek people have to say.”

She listed a few prominent issues, chiefly air quality, trails, water utility bills and the question of whether a firehall is needed. Door-knocking at 300 homes gave her a grounding in local issues.

“One of the things they were concerned about was water,” she said. “We’re paying so much.”

Brevick, a welder/fabricator enrolled in market garden training, ran unsuccessfully for city council last fall. His rural roots, however, go deep. He cited, as key issues of concern, logging on the Beaufort Range and backcountry access increasingly restricted by gated roads.

“I’m a ‘Creeker’ right from the start,” he said, citing the importance of the outdoor lifestyle to residents.

While an aquatic centre for the valley is coming down the pipe, “I don’t want Cherry Creek to turn into another deep pocket for the city,” he said. The city would pick up 80 percent of tab, he noted. “I’m sure we can kick in another 15 percent but we have to work together.”

McGill, a former military policeman now working for the B.C. Coroner Service, said he’s had good input from residents in this go-round. He hasn’t changed his platform after losing last time.

“I’m just here to represent the community in the best way I can,” he said, explaining his outlook. “I think with the regional district, you become the voice of the community, sharing their voices with the regional district and the provincial government.”

Fire service, watershed concerns and locked gates were also high on his list of local issues.

Reached later, Shannon said logging practices, backcountry access, fire protection and water quality as uppermost in peoples’ minds. After learning the election results were invalid, she continued attending ACRD board meetings, seated with the public, to keep on top of matters.

“One of my things was getting watershed management added as a strategic priority for the regional district,” said the mother of two toddlers. She managed that shortly before having to give up her seat in January and hopes to keep the process on track by getting re-elected.

The byelections were court ordered after results of the November 2018 ACRD elections were declared invalid due to ballot irregularities. A review found that 13 Beaufort (Area B) voters cast ballots in Cherry Creek (Area F).

Voters may have been confused since Beaufort gets its water from Cherry Creek. Another possible explanation: There has not been an election in Beaufort for 30 years or more owing to the fact that Mike Kokura was returned by acclamation for that period, decades in which lots of new residents settled in the upper valley. Adding to the confusion, boundaries for fire protection and water are different, Shannon noted, and maps posted on the ACRD site are not easy to interpret.

Brevick suspects voter participation could significantly lower on April 6. Byelections in general don’t see big numbers.

“We’ll be lucky to get 250 this time,” he said.

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Aaron Brevick, right, with partner Brooklynn Stonehouse, answers questions about why he is running for Area F (Cherry Creek) in the ACRD byelection on April 6, 2019. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

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