Lia Versaevel says her experience in many areas will be important factors that translate well into duties as Area G director for Saltair/Gulf Islands. (Photo submitted)

Versaevel feels her abundant experience will be beneficial in election bid

Candidate for CVRD Area G director identifies community building as paramount in the campaign

Lia Versaevel says a solid group of people representing several groups asked her to run for the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Area G (Saltair/Gulf Islands) director.

“This was based on their knowing my strengths, as an advocate, a calm and sensible person with a background in research and analysis, that can truly take Area G into the future in a cohesive community wide sense,” she noted.

Our voices from the Gulf Islands, particularly Penelakut and Thetis, but also Ruxton, Reid and Valdez, must be heard at the CVRD.”

Lynne Smith and Sean Jonas are also running for the position, creating a three-person race. There will be an all-candidates meeting at the Saltair Community Centre on Oct. 4.

Versaevel indicated she’s encouraged members of the community came to her to ask for her expertise in governance and research, community building and conflict resolution.

“This campaign is about community building, in my view,” Versaevel assessed. “I’m standing for office with the clear intention of bringing people together, with a strong voice. The people who asked me to run have a vision. They’re excited about the potential of a great community centre in Saltair, hopeful that First Nations voices will be heard at the CVRD, and passionate about protecting the incredible jewel that our seaside communities is now, into the long range future. They want action, knowledge, bold representation. Their values are paramount and their voices must be heard at the CVRD. People are looking for a fresh, bold approach. I will be that voice.”

Versaevel noted in her mediation practice she embraced empowerment “and it is this skill, bringing out the best in everyone, that will take Area G forward, past the drama of old grievances that have plagued residents for too long.”

Trust must be established in a representative, she added, and accessibility is paramount.

“I have and will continue to engage with this community, and recognize that what matters on Penelakut or Thetis may not always be the same as what matters in Saltair,” Versaevel pointed out.

“I embrace justice and fairness. I am extremely happy to have such a strong base of support throughout Area G, and look forward to working hard for the next term with all of the voters and representatives on the CVRD as well as the dedicated staff.

“Area G is home to one of the most immense watersheds in the CVRD, reaching up into the heart of Vancouver Island, across Stocking Lake and the surrounding Insular Mountains. We hold a Provincial License to this resource. Referendum question (4202) about drinking water and watershed protection will be put to us in this civic election.”

Versaevel noted during this election residents will also be asked to vote on the question of new taxation to support the Cowichan Housing Association in preventing homelessness, supporting those in fragile economic circumstances and educating people about housing. Several events will happen through September and October to garner more information regarding the financial implications of this question, she pointed out.

“We cannot proceed with 20th Century thinking, and expect different results. We need to practice futuristic thinking. Our droughts are longer, our air quality is at risk and more species are in danger of extinction. We have ships stacking up in our Stuart and Trincomali Channels, developments encroaching all around us and we need to stand up for the planet, as well as for ourselves.”

Versaevel stressed she’s a member and strong supporter of the Saltair Community Centre as well as the Thetis Island Community Association and Forbes Hall.

“As your director, I will work with everyone in all the Area G communities to take us forward as a unified force,” she explained. “I will work with all levels of governance to ensure that our fragile coast and our abundant waters remain usable for many generations to follow.”

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