Belcarra: Debt, water talk from village council candidates

Village council contenders Carolina Clark, Bruce Drake, Deborah Struk and Liisa Wilder respond to The Tri-City News' survey.

Carolina Clark
Age:
32
Belcarra resident for: 5 years
Campaign funding: self-funded and donations
Previous community/civic service: In the past, I was part of the board of directors for a non-governmental association (Brazilian Community Association); most recently, I was part of the Zoning Advisory Committee in Belcarra.
What are the three most pressing issues facing the village?
Communication: more public consultation on important decisions. Debt: prioritize our spending in order to pay our debt faster. Safety: fire and road safety with parking and wild fire prevention being priorities.
How will you ensure the village doesn’t go into debt?
Spending only what is necessary for now, maintaining what we have and look into cutting costs where we can but most important making sure we get the best value for our money in everything we spend.
Are you in favour of connecting all village properties to the new water system?
I like that most villagers have the choice to either connect to the water system or keep on using their wells. I do not believe residents should be forced to connect to the water and I would like to see more being able to have the choice.

Bruce Drake
Age:
69
Belcarra resident for: 43 years
Campaign funding: self-funded
Previous community/civic service: I have served on council for over 30 years.
What are the three most pressing issues facing the village?
Hotter, drier summers necessitate remediation re. wildfire risks; increasing park visitation requires co-ordinated management of parking as current approach is, during summer peaks, an accident waiting to happen; and, finally, maintaining effective services on a limited budget is a constant need as Belcarra has no commercial tax base.
How will you ensure the village doesn’t go into debt?
Prudent budgeting and ongoing management appropriate to our modest tax base.
Are you in favour of connecting all village properties to the new water system?
It is currently impractical to connect all of the village due to the very high cost of accessing the more remote portion of our community unless a very significant subsidy was secured.

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Deborah Struk
Age: 60
Belcarra resident for: more than 20 years
Campaign funding: self-funded 
Previous community/civic service: CRAB board member, Belcarra Blessings columnist for The Barnacle, environmental volunteer, launched John Reynolds Mother’s Day Birdwalk, BlockWatch captain, Zoning Advisory Committee member
What are the three most pressing issues facing the village?
Transparency, as to how business is and has been conducted with open communication between all residents; sustainability, as a village; and aging in place.
How will you ensure the village doesn’t go into debt?
The village is still in debt for our $9-million water system by about $3 million, so a first priority is looking at ways to pay off that debt while also trying looking at all the ways to cut costs. 
Are you in favour of connecting all village properties to the new water system?
Under the agreement (which many residents were not happy with), all residents must, at some time in the future, hook into the water system. I am not in favour of forcing residents on. I am in favour of one day connecting Belcarra taxpayers in Farrer Cove.

Liisa Wilder
Age: 60
Belcarra resident for: more than 16 years
Campaign funding: self-funded
Previous community/civic service: OCP committee member; CRAB director and volunteer; BlockWatch volunteer; Barnacle contributor; host an email notice board.
What are the three most pressing issues facing the village?
Homeowners are concerned about reducing the debt of our water system; spending without taxpayer consultation (transparency); and forest fire prevention.
How will you ensure the village doesn’t go into debt?
We already have a debt with the water system; however, I will do my best to make informed decisions and be fiscally responsible as to where our hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Are you in favour of connecting all village properties to the new water system?
Not all residential properties within the village were included in the boundaries of the water system (e.g. Farrer Cove was excluded); however, we need to respect the homeowners that were given a choice to connect or not. No one should be forced to and we need proper consultation before joining non-residential properties.

Editor's note: Council candidates Robert Begg and Jennifer Glover did not respond to The Tri-City News’ survey.

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HEAR THEM LIVE

Belcarra voters can hear the mayoral and council challengers at an all-candidates meeting Sunday at Belcarra village hall (4084 Bedwell Bay Rd.). 

The event runs from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and will have a different format from last month’s debate.

Contenders will answer prepared questions — including topics such as short-term rentals, fire protection, building permits, recycling facilities and water system costs — as well as take questions from the floor. 

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