A vision for Cortes Island's Future

A Vision For Cortes Island’s Political Future

By the time you hear this, everyone on Cortes Island will have received a newsletter from their Regional Director (or read it on the Tideline). I found it left me with more questions than answers. So I asked Noba Anderson to explain her vision for Cortes Island’s political future.

A Cortes Community Council

“I want to built community council, really simply put. City has a mayor and council. There is a group of people that are elected by the community to discuss matters of interest to the community and make decisions that pertain to the community and communicate the city’s will to outside agencies. First Nations, equally, have a chief and council. There’s a formalized, recognized, legitimate structure that is more than sending one person two ferry rides away to sit with twelve other reps,” says Director Anderson.

The way the SRD functions:

“I am inherently a minority and structurally, we don’t know things about each other, we don’t know each other’s communities – even with the best intentions, which aren’t necessarily always there.”

“So I’m interested in building something here that is complementary to the Regional District structure and certainly in no way would supersede or replace it. Over time as, I believe, our systems will inevitably fray with the pressures of climate change, we will have this system to really rely on here.”

Hornby island is a lot like Corytes and a model for Director Anderson's vision for Cortes Island’s political future
This is the inside of the Hornby Island Co-op, the largest store on the island.” – by Daryl Mitchell via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Hornby Island’s Model Of Local Government

Our interview took place the day she left for Hornby Island “to spend a few days meeting with lots of community groups and learn how they run their community organizations”

Hornby Island has a population roughly the same size of Cortes Island but, while rate payer’s and resident’s associations died out in most British Columbian communities, on Hornby they act as a community council. They do much more than a typical Regional District. In fact, Hornby’s Regional Director “is told what to do and all the leg work is done for him.”

“I’m just really curious what other communities like that do and what version of that might be palatable and functional here,” says Noba. 

Cortes Island’s Political Situation

After all of the shenanigans last year, some Cortes residents would like to secede from the Strathcona Regional District. (Listen to the podcast)

Noba says it would be too difficult for an island this small to go it alone, the solution may be an effective community council.  

“A minority of very active voices has been very effective in undermining my credibility at the Regional District and yet if what I brought to the District was backed by a community council it would be harder to marginalize.” 

Something like this may come into fruition on Cortes sometime during the next three years. 

“If we were to create this, it would be liaising with the Regional District post next election. I do not know how many of the same faces would be around the table but, regardless of the people at the Regional District table, this would offer credibility toward whatever the Director brought forward.” 

Noba Stepping Down At End Of This Term

She will not be Cortes Island’s Regional Director at that time. 

“I made that choice, quietly, before the last election. At the end of this term, it will be 14 years that I have been in office. I would do the constituency work forever, the work on Cortes I love. The honour of convening conversations and advocating for Cortes, I truly love, but I think I run the risk of getting stuck in this role and not being able to imagine myself in this community in some other way  … I do not want the community to get stuck either, thinking I’m the only one who can do it … I would carry on the Cortes work in some other form if I can figure out how.”   

Noba Anderson Responds
Regional Director Noba Anderson in front of the court house in Campbell River – Roy L Hales photo

Legal Matters

Noba describes her current relationship with the rest of the SRD Board as “very awkward.”

“Most people don’t make eye contact … but I am committed to continue to be as professional as I can and represent the interests of Cortes. I will bring issues forward as I am able, but my credibility has been shaken. It’s quite remarkable how a matter with no legitimacy has created such a situation.” 

She does not know anything more than the public about the Board’s decision to censure her.

As regards her legal fees, she says, “I have not been given any rationale as to the board’s decision to not indemnify me.”  

The SRD Board did not speak directly to Noba, “it’s all through lawyers.” 

Top photo credit: Hornby Island by Quentin Meulepas via Flickr (CC BY SA; 2.0 License)

Theme song: Rick Bockner: “You Gotta Think For Yourself”

10 thoughts on “A Vision For Cortes Island’s Political Future”

  1. Would it be worth considering a form of Direct democracy as some small rural New England towns in use to this day since the colonial period?
    There all local matters are settled collectively through a direct democratic process at regular town meetings. Very simple. The only elected official is the town manager whose sole function is to organize meetings, do the paperwork and implement the will of the majority. It could only work with an engaged and informed community, which we seem to have on the island.

    1. I would love to know more about this. Do you know specific examples? It would probably be easy to set up an interview, if I knew where to go.

      1. In the early Spring every year our class was taken down to the town hall to witness these things, very entertaining!
        There were always lengthy discussions and everybody had a chance to speak on all the issues: how much should we spend on snow removal this year etc. This could go on for days, for however long it took. When it came to voting on the issues, it was by a show of hands. At least that’s how I remember it.
        The only real difference is; No intermediaries ( no representatives) to potentially mess things up.

        Roy, I would bet if you, very nicely, phoned most any small town office in Vermont or northern New Hampshire say, someone would talk to you.

    2. This is the key.

      Sometimes called “Liquid Democracy” and greatly behooved by ssl digital fora.

      “Liquid democracy lies between direct and representative democracy. In direct democracy, participants must vote personally on all issues, while in representative democracy participants vote for representatives once in certain election cycles. Meanwhile, liquid democracy does not depend on representatives but rather on a weighted and transitory delegation of votes. Liquid democracy through elections can empower individuals to become sole interpreters of the interests of the nation. It allows for citizens to vote directly on policy issues, delegate their votes on one or multiple policy areas to delegates of their choosing, delegate votes to one or more people, delegated to them as a weighted voter, or get rid of their votes’ delegations whenever they please.” ( https://www.academia.edu/12189340/Liquid_Democracy_Potentials_Problems_and_Perspectives @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_democracy )

      A liquid digital democratic platform coupled with a multi-local crypto currency will be the prevalent OS for earth. How soon?
      Maybe for Cortes: 2020.

      Crowd-source engineering for the win!

      Out from behind the curtain, Oz! We can build it ourselves!

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