North Cowichan sees 3 mayoral, 15 councillor candidates

North Cowichan sees 3 mayoral, 15 councillor candidates
Municipality of North Cowichan/Facebook

North Cowichan voters have three mayoral and 15 councillor candidates to choose for in the upcoming election.

The current mayor is not seeking re-election, and two incumbent councillors are seeking the mayor’s seat. Four incumbent councillors are seeking re-election.

In addition to voting for mayor and councillors, voters will also choose the trustees for the Cowichan Valley School District.

A referendum question on establishing a new funding model for nine regionally significant recreation facilities will also be included on the ballot. Learn more about the referendum question here.

North Cowichan will hold advance voting on Oct. 5 and 11 at the North Cowichan Municipal Hall between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and on general voting day on Oct. 15 for the same hours at the following locations:

  • North Cowichan Municipal Hall
  • Chemainus Seniors Centre
  • Crofton Elementary School
  • Maple Bay Elementary
  • École Mount Prevost
  • Quamichan Middle School

Additionally, voters can choose to vote by mail.

In 2018, 8,009 people voted in the municipal election for a voter turnout of 35.1 per cent.


Rob Douglas

Douglas was born and raised in North Cowichan and has lived there his entire life. For 14 years, he has been the director of post-secondary education and skills training with the provincial government. Before that he worked in the pulp and paper, forestry, and construction industries. He has served two terms as a North Cowichan councillor.

If elected, his priorities are to tackle the affordable housing crisis by adopting an affordable housing strategy; defend the environment by managing water supplies, cleaning up and restoring watersheds, developing a biodiversity protection policy, and responding to climate change; build a strong local economy; create safe neighbourhoods by aggressively lobbying senior levels of government to provide the necessary supports; and maintain the rural character and agriculture countryside.

Douglas is currently a North Cowichan councillor. In 2018, he was elected with the most votes with 4,223 ballots cast for him.

Douglas’ website can be found here.

John Koury

Koury has a masters degree in business from Royal Roads University and is an accredited chartered director professional in corporate governance. He is a business consultant with a background in community service. He served over 20 years as a senior executive management and corporate board director. He previously served on North Cowichan council for two consecutive terms.

If elected, his priorities are to encourage growth to create more jobs, remove barriers to business, make it easier for developers to build homes of all kinds, control operating costs, increase business revenue and reduce residential tax burden, create legal suite zoning in all residential zones, increase competition in the housing market, get tough on drug dealers, reduce crime and vagrancy, strengthen the economy, lower taxes, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, modernize infrastructure and manage forests from fire risk.

In 2018, Koury unsuccessfully sought a seat on council, receiving 2,818 votes.

Koury’s website can be found here.

Rosalie Sawrie

Sawrie was first elected as a councillor in 2018 and in that time also served on Our Cowichan Health Network, Cowichan Community Policing & Engagement Society, Cowichan Community Centre Commission and Vancouver Island Regional Library Board. She also attended a number of government conferences in her role. She has 15 years of community building and engaging experience on environmental, housing and poverty issues.

If elected, her priorities are housing for the most vulnerable, for busy families, employed youth, for elders who need to downsize, and for single parents and adults. She says housing is needed to support small businesses and health care because workers can’t move to the region without housing. Addressing climate disruption, mental health issues, the toxic drug crisis, economic stability and reliable health care will all require housing as a step towards solutions. She would also like to support agriculture as they face challenges of climate change and find ways to be prepared for flooding, droughts, and fire prevention.

Sawrie is currently a North Cowichan councillor. In 2018, she was elected with the fifth most votes with 3,009 ballots cast for her.

Sawrie’s website can be found here.


There are six seats on council up for election.

Dana Arthurs

If elected, Arthurs priorities are to support and empower people wanting to do business in the municipality; work with the provincial and federal government to address the doctor shortage; address affordable living and affordable housing situations for the elderly, homeless, and young families; Indigenous relations; and community engagement.

Arthurs’ Facebook page can be found here.

Joyce Behnsen

Behnsen has been involved in the community for over 20 years. She was previously a councillor for one term between 2014-2018 then lost the election for the mayor’s seat in 2018.

If elected, her priorities are financial accountability, housing affordability, environmental stewardship, homelessness, drugs, crime, lower taxes, access and transparency.

In 2018, Behnsen came in third for mayor with 1,874 votes.

Behnsen’s website can be found here.

Charles Borg

Borg is a 10-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and has lived in North Cowichan for four years.

If elected, his priorities are adressing middle class issues like affordable housing, entrepreneurship and taxation; reduce unnecessary red tape and permit time frames; and bring honesty, integrity and accountability to the municipal hall.

Mike Caljouw

Caljouw has lived in the Cowichan area for 54 years, since he was 11. He retired from a 44-year career with Canada Safeway/Save-on-Foods in Duncan in 2016 and has worked part-time as a manufacturing operator at Purica for the past six years.

If elected, he has four main priorities: focusing on core municipal issues, managing forests responsibly, balancing progress and the environment, and engaging meaningfully with the community.

Caljouw’s Facebook page can be found here.

Elizabeth Croft

Croft is currently a trustee with the Cowichan Valley School District, and is running for council and the school board.

She has been a trustee for eight years, and has more than 25 years of experience on national, local and provincial boards of directors for industry associations, non-profits and was a founding member of the Oakdale Neighbourhood Association.

If elected to council, her priorities are encouraging growth within urban containment boundaries, favouring environmental standards for the industry without putting too much pressure to restrict business, and addressing the opioid crisis, homelessness and their effects.

Croft’s Facebook page can be found here.

Joseph Enslow

Enslow is a father of three, a small business owner, and has a full-time career. He is running to represent the working class in North Cowichan.

If elected, his priorites are housing, ensuring growth respects the landscape, create an environment where small businesses can be established, ensure the upcoming 2030 and 2050 plans account for the community’s way of thinking and life, and fight to ensure plans aren’t implemented that don’t support residents.

Enslow is part of the UnitedIndependent slate. Its website can be found here.

Bruce Findlay

Findlay is a Scottish-born Canadian real estate developer with SureFire Properties, and publican at The Lion Rampant Scottish Pub. He is a director of the non-profit Anya’s Journey Foundation. He has lived in North Cowichan as a resident and business owner since 2005.

If elected, his priorities are addressing the housing crisis, promoting different options for home ownership and quality rentals, having an “open for business” mindset, being pro-sustainable resource development, having more community engagement, and tearing the budget apart to find savings or efficiencies to address property taxes, which he says are too high.

Findlay’s website can be found here.

Chris Istace

Istace has lived in North Cowichan for nearly a decade and has opened a small retail business in Chemainus. He serves as the president of the Chemainus Business Improvement Association, and director of the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society. In his previous home town, he was elected two terms as a councillor.

If elected, he plans to bring together varied voices to tackle the challenges of growth. He hopes to work together as a community to support those in need, like those trying to afford a stable place to live, needing easy access to transit or wanting to walk or ride, concerned about the cost of living, wanting local employment opportunities, and concerned about the changing climate in the valley.

Istace’s website can be found here.

Christopher Justice

Justice’s family has lived in the Cowichan Valley for a couple of generations. He has earned a doctorate degree in health and social sciences and taught at McMaster University. His family moved back to the valley 14 years ago and he was elected to council in 2018. He has been an active member of a number of organizations including North Cowichan Environmental Advisory Committee, the Social Planning Cowichan society, and the Quamichan Watershed Stewardship Society.

If elected, his priorities are responsbile land-use and growth management, affordable housing in thriving and safe communities, protection and restoration of natural environments, a strong and diverse local economy, and accountable government spending and taxation.

In 2018, Justice received the third most votes with 3,486.

Justice’s website can be found here.

Tek Manhas

Manhas is seeking his second term on council. He is a lifelong resident of the Cowichan Valley and has been a senior manager for an international company, worked for family-based business and is now a partner in a pet store in Duncan. He has volunteered on a number of boards including the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Cowichan, and Cowichan Fringe Festival Society. He was appointed to the Punjabi Canada Legacy project advisory board.

If re-elected, his priorities are financial discipline, work in a collaborative way, make job creators welcome in North Cowichan, and bring pragmatism and balance back to power.

In 2018, Manhas received the fourth most votes with 3,010.

Manhas’ Facebook page can be found here.

Kate Marsh

Marsh is a three-term councillor and two-term CVRD director. She is the CVRD representative at the Hul’qumi’num Treaty main table and VIRL Trustee. She has served on a number of committees including the Environmental Advisory and Parks and Rec, Sports Hall of Fame.

If re-elected, her priorities are retaining the rural character, and the local economy.

In 2018, Marsh received the second most votes with 3,821.

Marsh’s website can be found here.

Adrienne Richards

Richards moved to the North Cowichan 14 years ago and was able to work for a company that allowed her to connect with small businesses throughout the valley. She is a researcher and homeowner and has become more involved in local politics recently.

If elected, her priorities are to find wasteful spending, create municipal revenue sources to become more independent from relying on government grants and increased taxes, and address the brain drain due to lack of affordable housing. She would like to work to make the valley attractive to family, business and innovation.

Richards is running as part of a slate of candidates called UnitedIndependents. Its website can be found here.

Peter Rusland

Rusland was a former reporter for the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial.

If elected, his priorities are serving community needs, promoting economic health, preserving the environmental health, and providing a range of social-health solutions.

In 2018, Rusland unsuccessfully ran for council, receiving 1,909 votes.

Rusland’s Facebook page can be found here.

Christopher Shaw

Shaw is a neuroscientist whose research focuses on Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) using several models of the disease to explore the possible environmental or genetic triggers of the disease, the various stages in disease development and emerging treatment options. He has an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of California at Irvine, a M.Sc. in medical physiology at the Hebrew University and a Ph.D in neurobiology at the same institution.

If elected, his key issues to focus on are the high property taxes, homessless and housing, transportation, and more democratic governance with greater citizen decision making.

Shaw is running as part of a slate of candidates called UnitedIndependents. Its website can be found here.

Debra Toporowski

Toporowski was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, with a First Nation and Chinese heritage. She has worked as a constituency assistant for 12 years alongside MLA, Doug Routley and MLA, Bill Routley. She served four terms as a Cowichan Tribes councillor for 2013 to 2022, and was elected to North Cowichan council in 2018. She is the chair of the First Nations Relations Committee and appointed to the Cowichan Valley Regional Board of directors.

If elected, she hopes to fight for the protection of local water, land and air, but she also understands the need for balance between the environment and a strong economy.

In 2018, Toporowski received the sixth most votes with 2,916.

Toporowski’s Facebook page can be found here.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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