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Bruce Van Mook, independent candidate for mayor

Bruce van Mook: Pemberton must be made desirable


Proust Questionnaire

Name : Bruce van Mook

Political experience: Two-term councillor, 1996 though 2001

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?


What is your idea of earthly happiness?


Who are your favourite heroes/heroines of fiction?

Severiano Ballesteros.

Your favorite musician?


The quality you most admire in a woman?


The quality you most admire in a man?


What natural ability would you have liked to have had?


Your most marked characteristic?


What do you most value in your friends?


What is it you most dislike?


What is your motto?

Never, ever give up.

Bruce van Mook has called the Pemberton Valley home for the past 14 years, having spent eight years in Whistler before moving further up Highway 99. To balance the demands of his career, family and potential position as mayor, he envisions streamlining municipal government to make it more action oriented.

His ideas range from instituting a mayor’s office, to help the flow of communication between local government and the electorate, to making the airport a cost neutral endeavour.

"Currently, the airport costs the taxpayers $38,000 a year, that’s a considerable chunk of the tax revenue," says van Mook.

A Village of Pemberton councillor from 1996 to 2001, van Mook says that the Official Community Plan is a living document that needs to be reviewed every five years.

He sees lack of demand as the primary issue affecting development.

"I’m staggered by the cost of construction and that’s nothing we can legislate to change. What local government can do is change building requirements in terms of the looks of buildings; the types of façade they have to have. These are real costs that we can address," he says. "We’ve moved the goal past to the point where we’ve stopped the spigot."

He sees revisiting design constraints as an issue the whole community should address. What that community constitutes is also something he sees needing to be redefined. While he supports boundary expansions to create a more geographically cohesive community, he is emphatic that his vision will not negatively impact farm land.

"The goals in boundary expansion include economic development by having taxation go into one pot. One of the things that happen is that you have the village’s bylaws coming into play instead of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s bylaws. This doesn’t mean agricultural land is at risk, it’s covered by the Agricultural Land Reserve," he says.

In terms of affordability, he sees that there are opportunities for what is essentially a market-driven equation.

"I think there are affordability concerns in all communities in the province now. It’s amazing what the pricing is everywhere," he says. "In this community to have a house and a yard you’re looking at $400,000 plus. And no amount of new lots or boundary expansion will drive that price down because the land will cost ‘x’ and the cost of building that house is ‘y+’. What can we do? We may have to look at bringing on some non-marketing housing that is very similar to the scenario that’s unfolded very successfully in Whistler."

He also believes that increased density needs to be further examined.

When it comes to the economy, van Mook is very concerned by what he sees.

"You go downtown and there are four or five storefronts empty. Exploration Station hasn’t broken ground yet. The Winchester has unoccupied retail… there’s empty space at the development across from the school. Empty retail space doesn’t look good.

"At the end of the day, it’s housing starts that drive the economy. Never in my 14 years here, has it become more apparent that we have a fragile economy because we’ve lost our competitiveness as an option. The (housing) price point has driven people to look at Squamish because of the facilities it offers," he says.

He believes that recreation facilities will attract people to Pemberton in greater numbers, which would get builders building again and create a greater inflow of capital.

As a tourism professional, he thinks that Pemberton needs to add tourism to the traditional bookend industries of forestry and agriculture.

"We have these traditional industries, we can develop tourism and fill in the rest with secondary industries and we’d have a nice, healthy economy," he says.

He also believes we need to take advantage of every opportunity the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games present.

"We may not be driving the bus, but we need to make sure we’re on it."

Like his fellow candidates for mayor, van Mook is also committed to increasing communication between Pemberton and Mount Currie.

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