"I dont know if there are other agendas, but slates usually have agendas. I thought in the best interest of democracy I should come
Councillor Mark Blundell
Village of Pembertons Mark Blundell, who first won his place on council in a by-election, has announced he will be seeking a third term in office. The formation of the Valley Vision-Leadership in Action slate was the impetus behind his position.
"I know these people individually, and individually theyre all fine people. But as a slate Im a little concerned that individual voices arent present and we wont have the ability to debate issues," said Blundell. "You need people who are making decisions for the community as a whole instead of (pushing) other agendas. I dont know if there are other agendas, but slates usually have agendas. I thought in the best interest of democracy I should come forward."
He believes that a combination of the experience and skills he has acquired over the last four years will provide a much-needed element of consistency on council.
He sees sustainability as the number one issue facing the community, applying the philosophy to the preservation of the areas unique character.
"People would like to have the urban lifestyle and keep the rural community," said Blundell. "And I think thats a challenge. We cant be everything to everyone.
"We need to address our recreational needs. Whats happening is young families are leaving our community because they dont have the resources for their children that theyd like to have."
Blundell believes the only way recreational needs will be addressed is by thinking outside the box; especially since the number one item in every recreation survey has been a community swimming pool. He points out that with population of 2,000 people and an annual budget of $3 million, achieving this goal will be very difficult for the village.
"Maybe we should be looking at private-public partnerships," he suggested. He explained that a new amenity bylaw that council has just implemented will allow a percentage of Developer Contribution Costs (DCCs) to be applied to recreation. (Prior to the bylaws implementation, DCCs could only be used for sewer, roads and water.)
While DCCs are important to the villages infrastructure, Blundell would be in favour of reducing or eliminating DCCs and offering term tax breaks to attract industry to stimulate the local economy.
"We used to be a logging and farming community. Were still a farming community. I certainly want to keep our green space," said Blundell. "We should look at creating more jobs in farming, such as greenhouses and more organic farming. We have a lot of bug kill in our trees, maybe we should be looking at creating secondary industry products from that wood."
While he acknowledges the important role Whistler plays in the Pemberton economy, providing jobs for many residents, he says Pemberton cant entirely depend on Whistler.
"In order to keep our own uniqueness were going to have to come up with some of our own ideas for economic development. We should be tapping into the Fraser Basin Councils resources. Smart Growth B.C. is another good resource.
"Another resource is China. We should be marketing ourselves to those people Canadas becoming an approved destination for China they love the kind of environment we provide. Tourism could be huge," he said.
While vibrant tourism may increase jobs, there is still the issue of affordable houses.
"Theres no opportunity for secondary movement. You buy either a condo or a huge house. Theres no place in the middle," he said.
He suggests that developers could be mandated to create one affordable home for every 10 lots they develop, an approach that has proved successful in other communities.
"This is just an idea, its something weve never tried. But its the kind of idea that needs to happen."
Blundell, co-owner of the Pemberton Valley Supermarket, will be seeking to retain his position on council. There had been speculation that he would be seeking the position of mayor. The local businessman and current chair of Community Futures, says the time necessary to be an effective mayor is incompatible with his current commitments.
Mayor Elinor Warner has not formally announced her intentions. However, in the past month she has made comments about the need for continuity on council. Last week, the mayor said she would be issuing a statement outlining her plans, but as of press time, it had not been received.
Councillor Michele Beauregard has announced that she will not run for re-election in order to spend more time with her family.
Councillor Richard Doucet has decided that one term is enough. Recently engaged, Doucet also wants to focus his energies on family life.
"When youre getting home at 10 p.m. every night from meetings, it doesnt leave a lot of time for a family," said Doucet.
Councillor Linda Chandler has also decided not to seek re-election.
"I took a hard look at my energy level, and right now I dont have one," said Chandler, who is battling a serious health issue.
She says she made the decision not to run earlier this month after much soul searching.
"My intention was always to serve two terms," said Chandler. "The learning curve is so steep at first and there are projects I wanted to see through if I was elected again."
Currently on leave from her position as manager of the Pemberton branch of the North Shore Credit Union, the first term councillor felt it would be irresponsible for her to seek re-election.