COMOX VALLEY – Communities in the Comox Valley are growing, but public services are not keeping up with the pace of change says CUPE Local 556. The union launched a campaign to urge local governments to expand municipal services to cope with the rising demand in the region.
“Our members serve our neighbours every day. We are accountable to our communities and are devoted to make sure the Comox Valley is clean, green, prosperous, and safe,” said Bonnie Kozlowski, president of CUPE 556. “We are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. As more move here, enhancing and expanding public services is crucial to meet the needs of residents and local businesses while protecting our environment.”
CUPE 556’s campaign, involving face-to-face public outreach and radio and other advertising, aims to encourage elected leaders to work together for the Comox Valley’s future. The union is worried that as public demands increase there will be more services contracted out to private corporations.
“Our tax dollars should not leave our community to profit those who don’t live here,” said Kozlowski. “Our members’ wages are spent in the local Comox Valley businesses, and they are earned by carefully providing vital services and maintaining critical infrastructure residents depend on.”
Municipal workers in the Comox Valley propose coordination throughout the region to ensure communities are livable, safe, and ecologically sustainable into the future. The union is calling for a review of contracts to identify opportunities for better directly delivered services.
“Residents demand services responsible to them and responsive to their needs,” said Kozlowski. “When your garbage is not picked up, or if snow is not removed, who do you call to complain? Residents can rely on predictable services when they are publicly delivered and answerable to the community. That way we can be certain all concerns are addressed efficiently, and any problems are solved appropriately.”
A poll of 500 Comox Valley residents conducted by Research Co. in February showed most think services provided by public workers are superior to those provided by private contractors. The majority of those surveyed also believe you pay more for lower quality services because private companies cut corners to make more profits. Nine out of ten in the sample valued keeping well-paying jobs in the community.
“These are uncertain times, from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to extreme weather events of heat domes, atmospheric rivers, and snowstorms,” said Kozlowski. “We must plan now to provide our community certainty with more quality, dependable, accountable services delivered by and for the people of our community for generations to come.”
CUPE 556 represents the municipal workers of the Comox Valley – the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland, Comox Valley Regional District, and the Hornby Island Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association. CUPE 556 members are responsible for a wide range of services including road maintenance, emergency care, recreation programs, childcare, community development, and maintaining safe, clean, drinking water systems and wastewater treatment systems. CUPE 556 members work and live on the unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation.
Backgrounder: Research Co. Comox Valley Public Opinion Poll Factum
Listen to the CUPE 556 Comox Valley Municipal Workers Campaign Ad here.