With the federal election just around the corner, municipal hopefuls are also revving up their campaigns, with at least six Squamish candidates officially declared, and a few others sending out press bulletins.
Teacher and president of Squamish Environmental Conservation Society Catherine Jackson is pointing to the Official Community Plan (OCP) as the central plank in her election campaign.
“As a community, we aren’t owning it as much as we should,” she said. “If I were elected, I’d like to see the people take more ownership. I see it as a people’s document. It’s the only mechanism the people have to help create the vision for the future. I believe the participation… has really decreased in recent years. I think that’s a result of people going to meetings and their input is not acted upon.”
Jackson said the OCP is the premier document necessary to guide Squamish through its twofold population surge, which is expected by 2030.
John McIllwraith, a local construction worker who, at age 19, ran for council in Milton, Ontario, has filed his papers with running mate Ken Perry.
“My platform is very simple,” he said. “I don’t have a major issue. My platform is to serve. It’s as simple as that — it doesn’t get too complicated.”
Not so for Rob Kirkham. With his papers filed, his priority issue is fiscal management. According to his view, full financial disclosure leaves something to be desired.
“The examples of that are Squamish (Sustainability Corporation) and Squamish Oceanfront,” he said. “And that’s something I feel I could bring to council.”
Donna Billy, a social worker and Squamish Nation member, hopes to focus on housing, among other social and economic issues.
“I haven’t got one set agenda,” she said. “I don’t want to concentrate just on one. I believe in teamwork and collaboration. I’ve worked on economic development, social issues and social housing. These are the things I’m really interested in. It’s hard to say I’m going to get social housing, but that’s one of my issues.”
Of all the incumbent councillors, Mike Jenson is so far the only one to file his papers, though Jeff McKenzie, Corinne Lonsdale and Patricia Heintzman have all publicly committed to another run.
“It’s certainly different than last time,” Jenson said. “Being a councillor, you’re much more involved in the day-to-day operations. I would say completing the OCP, completing the master planning of the oceanfront lands (are important issues). Even the small things, a bike lane policy. There are a lot of things we’ve got in the works.”
Having also filed his papers, 20-year-old David Clarkson has launched his campaign.
“The one overarching issue for me, and everybody, I think, is the issue of sustainability,” he said. “On that note, that one issue encompasses everything else. A responsible government might talk about debt management, as Squamish has accumulated a lot of debt in the past few years. Even for paving roads, they borrow money, which is bad fiscal management.”
Paul Lalli and Bryan Raiser have made their intentions official, as has Doug Race.
In the mayoral race, Greg Gardner still stands alone. There’s speculation that Terrill Patterson might step in to challenge him — Patterson has been known to do that when a mayoral candidate runs uncontested — but he’s already filed intent to run as a school trustee. Andrea Beaubien has done the same.