British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Cowichan Valley riding profile

A look at Cowichan Valley, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

High-profile Green and independent candidates make this one of the most interesting races in B.C.

The riding includes most of the Malahat area, along with Shawnigan Lake, Lake Cowichan, Cobble Hill and Duncan. (Elections B.C.)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Cowichan Valley, one of 15 ridings on Vancouver Island — and one where individual personalities may matter more than political parties.

Summary: An urban and rural riding separating the Greater Victoria area from the rest of Vancouver Island, most residents live in the Duncan area, but plenty live around Shawinigan Lake, Cowichan Lake and the fertile area between Mill Bay and Duncan from which the riding derives its name. 

Politics: The riding centred around Duncan traditionally votes NDP but went to the Liberals in 2001 and Social Credit in 1986. And while retiring NDP MLA Bill Routley received 48 per cent of the vote in 2009, that was reduced to 40 per cent in 2013. 

Candidates: Replacing Routley, the NDP candidate here is Lori Iannidinardo, a director for the Cowichan Regional District. She defeated three others for the nomination.

The Liberal candidate is Steve Housser, a stock broker and investment advisor, the same person who ran for the party in 2013 in and who, decades ago, was a Victoria bureau chief for CBC. 

The Green Party candidate is Sonia Furstenau, another director for the Cowichan Regional District, who helped lead opposition to the controversial soil dumping at Shawningan Lake. 

There are two independent candidates running: Eden Haythornthwaite and Ian Morrison, another Cowichan regional district director. 

The Libertarian Party is also fielding a candidate in James Anderson.  

Where does the NDP do well? It does fairly well throughout Duncan and the Lake Cowichan area, along with the Cowichan First Nation reserves. 

What about the Liberals? The closer one gets to the Georgia Strait, the more likely it's a Liberal area — particularly the wealthy retirement community of Arbutus Ridge, which has given the party around 65 per cent of the vote in recent elections. 

And the Greens? Even before soil dumping became a hot-button issue, the Green Party did best around Shawnigan, averaging around 30 per cent of the vote there last election.