After eight years representing West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, BC Liberal MLA Joan McIntyre has retired from the B.C legislature. Here she speaks to Pique's Cathryn Atkinson about the highs and lows of her time in Victoria.
Pique: How would you describe the last eight years on the job?
Joan McIntyre: I really wanted to be a good listener, based on my polling background. I had experience in listening to people and understanding and putting that into policy. I think I've made a very conscious effort to be a good contingency person and an MLA that's "on the ground," listening to the communities and hearing what their objectives were. I worked very hard at that.
Pique: What were your priorities when you started?
JM: ...In 2005 I felt that the BC Liberals really deserved an opportunity, once they did the heavy lifting in getting the economy turned around.And I really wanted to make sure that the North Shore and Sea to Sky region got a fair share of the benefits and rewards of that economic turnaround, especially since we were going to host the 2010 Olympic Games. If you include the Sea to Sky Highway upgrade, hundreds of millions of dollars have poured into the riding over both terms, so I feel that the riding is a different place than it was a decade ago.
Pique: I understand there was a standing ovation when you stood to speak the last time in the legislature.
JM: I'm smiling as you say that. It was very overwhelming. In my second term, the former premier (Gordon Campbell) appointed me chair of the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth, and so after 30-plus years in business and after my first term on economic committees, all of a sudden I was thrust into the world of social justice and the issues primarily facing the most vulnerable families and children in the province. It was very eye opening. I decided at that point that neither side of the House should be scoring political points on the backs of vulnerable children and families, and... I decided in this case I really wanted to work with the NDP and (Representative for Children and Youth) Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who is widely respected representative for children and youth, I wanted to make sure she did have a platform. It was recognized by my colleagues in the House, and that was really, really gratifying. It brought tears to my eyes.
Pique: What changes have you seen in the constituency and have there been any surprises?
JM: In the two terms, when you think of all the work... the spotlight of billions of viewers on the Sea to Sky Highway as we prepared for 2010, that was five years of my time. There was so much construction, land use devolved to the First Nations — they had unprecedented economic opportunity. The Lil'wat and Squamish have had great economic opportunity. The engineering feats (on the highway)— that hadn't even been done before. (There was a) huge amount of activity, building the Athletes Village, and the Callaghan we basically created out of nothing. The feverish activity and then, unfortunately, combined with the economic downturn in 08-09 as we were heading into the Olympics, there were some dramatic changes there. Going back to Ted Nebbeling, my predecessor... we did give the Oceanfront Lands to Squamish, almost 70 hectares of land there, that unfortunately hasn't come to fruition, which is a little bit of a surprise and disappointment. I totally understand it, the community went in one direction, they retrenched and I think the current plan they have that involves the combination of park, some residential and also commercial and marine commercial is probably a good balance... I am optimistic that it will all come in time. The Cheakamus Crossing, that was huge, 300 acres donated by the province to Whistler to transform the Athletes Village to a neighbourhood. I appreciate that it hasn't been without controversy because of the (asphalt) plant, but that was not part of the original (situation). I'm so sorry the community has had to go through all that, but that said, there is an amazing neighbourhood there. I was looking at a scrapbook from when I was first running the other day and I remember the financial tools, as it was called then, was very big and I worked closely with Ken Melamed and council and Carole Taylor, when she was finance minister, and we got that done, which was $6 million a year for Whistler — now that has transformed into the RMI funding, a regular grant. That's huge to help with the tourism effort, a huge benefit to the community.