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Meet Pemberton's 2018 council candidates

Five candidates will run for four seats in Oct. 20 election



The race is on to see who will serve as the Village of Pemberton's (VOP) next councillors.

The field now sits at five candidates: incumbent Councillor Ted Craddock, Leah Noble, David MacKenzie, Amica Antonelli, and Ryan Zant.

In an interview with Pique, Karen Love said she has decided not to run for one of the four seats after all, though she is still technically a candidate until her withdrawal is approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

With no one running against him, current VOP Mayor Mike Richman was officially acclaimed on Sept. 24.

Having interviewed Craddock in a previous issue (Sept. 6), Pique introduces you to the four other council candidates.

David MacKenzie

Apart from Craddock, David MacKenzie is the only other candidate with experience sitting on council.

MacKenzie, an owner and general manager at the Pemberton Valley Lodge, served on council between 2005 and 2008.

Over a long career in the tourism industry, Mackenzie has also accrued significant board experience.

Mackenzie is a director at the Tourism Industry Association of BC and the Canadian Cancer Society.

He also recently stepped down as the president and chair of the BC Hotel Association.

"That's kind of why I made the decision (to run), because I'm winding down some of my provincial board positions, and freeing up some of my time to be able to make the commitment to my local community," he said.

MacKenzie describes himself as a global thinker with a deep understanding of the pressures facing Pemberton.

"I look at the big picture and how it affects the greater good," he said.

"For local government, you have to bring a balance to the table, to understand the needs of the greater community."

He added that he has remained interested in municipal politics.

"Over the past few years, even though I was not an elected official, I still attended the (Union of BC Municipalities) Convention, representing the hotel association," he said.

"I was able to participate and learn what was going on between the province and local government.

"It's always good to understand what resolutions are going forward from the local government associations."

Looking to the future, MacKenzie said it will be important for council to manage its growth intelligently.

"One of the things I certainly want to assist with, and be a part of, is the growth of our community," he said, adding that he is encouraged by significant residential construction in recent years.

"That's obviously going to spur a growth in population.

"And with a growth in population, perhaps there's interest in our vacant commercial properties.

"I would suspect that we're certainly going to see some growth happen."

As a business operator, MacKenzie knows the struggles of the Pemberton business community firsthand.

"We have a lot of hospitality and service workers in our community," he said.

"I want to see if there is a way where we can have some projects that can enhance and encourage those people to be a part of our community and be able to afford it."

MacKenzie said he is "really encouraged" to see the downtown enhancement plan underway.

"It's certainly a step in the right direction," he said. "And it sounds like several members of the downtown community are excited and happy it's moving forward."

Leah Noble

Longtime Pemberton resident Leah Noble wants to tackle transportation and sustainable tourism if elected.

"I've lived in the area for 37 years, and I've raised two kids here," said Noble, who works as a landscaper and farmer.

She has also volunteered with the Pemberton 4-H Club and Pemberton BMX.

Noble added that that she works well with others and is impressed with the field of candidates.

"It looks like we could have quite a good working group with the candidates that came up," she said.

Noble wants to improve transit in Pemberton as well as between Whistler and Pemberton.

"Greyhound is cutting its service all together, and we have no taxi," she said. "So I'd like to try to find a working solution for that issue because it really affects feasibility here."

Noble would also like to see the promotion of "sustainable tourism," explaining that the annual Pemberton Barn Dance is a good example of this.

"People spend money in Pemberton and get a hotel room (with this event)," she said, adding that Pemberton's business community has also diversified in recent years.

Noble said she would also like council to look seriously at establishing a public pool in Pemberton, believing there is strong demand for it.

"It's kind of interesting. Every time you stay at a hotel or a lodge everyone has a pool, yet the town of Pemberton doesn't," she said.

"I realize hotels can do it because it's not their only income. But I feel like Pemberton can look at it, too."

Amica Antonelli

Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) land-use planner Amica Antonelli is also putting her name forward, hoping that her extensive experience with planning will help her bid—she has worked in planning and resource management for the past 14 years.

"I would say 12 of those years have been in the Sea to Sky corridor," she said. "So I'm really familiar with some of the issues that have been ongoing.

"One of the things I'd like to do is contribute my expertise to the community."

Antonelli's work at the RMOW involves working with the Whistler Housing Authority and developers to increase Whistler's affordable housing stock.

"As part of that, I regularly present to council and have council workshops," she said.

While she feels that VOP's planning department has steered the community in a good direction, she believes she has some novel ideas to bring to the table, such as developing guidelines for how the hillsides in the Pemberton area are developed.

"I'd like to see some guidelines develop to make sure that the development on the hillside is respectful of the scenery we have," she said, adding that she'd also like to see more emphasis put on the design of buildings early on in the permitting process.

"Bigger communities consider the design really early in the process, before the land-use approvals are given," she explained.

Antonelli—whose interests include trail running and zero-waste living—would also like to see the Village develop as a "backcountry tourism base."

There is potential for the development of trails that would take you right from the downtown core to the alpine, she said.

Protecting agricultural land is also one of her priorities. "As items come up on the agenda my view, (would be) to protect the integrity of the farmland," Antonelli said.

To learn more about Antonelli, check out her website:

Though there doesn't appear to be any conflict of interest between her work with the RMOW and council business, Antonelli said that, like any other candidate, she would declare one and recuse herself from discussions should one arise.

Ryan Zant

Ryan Zant, chief engineer for Blackcomb Helicopters, said he was inspired to jump into the race after learning that three out of the four current VOP councillors were not seeking reelection.

"I think the previous council has done a great job, and I feel like we have similar views," he said. "I want to carry on that legacy."

With two young children, Zant said he has especially liked the focus on creating amenities for young families, such as improving One Mile Lake and adding new playgrounds to the Village.

"I think the council sees that a lot of the families in Pemberton are younger families like mine," he said.

"A lot of what (Council) has done for young families really makes me happy."

As a manager, Zant said he is constantly coordinating between various stakeholders, such as mechanics and engineers.

"I manage the maintenance of aircrafts. As you can imagine, it can be quite a bit of pressure at times," he said.

"I feel like a lot of those skills are transferable, because as a councillor, you're going to deal with different interests and different opinions.

"I've had to make some tough choices."

Zant said affordable housing would be one of the top issues he'd like to advance.

"Looking at it from my point of view at Blackcomb (Helicopters), we are having a hard time finding people who want to move to Pemberton because the housing is too expensive," he said.

Zant said that he would also like to support programs an initiatives aimed at young families.

"One of my programs would be to help those programs move forward and get the support they need from the community," he said.


Oct. 10 – Advanced Voting, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Village Office (7400 Prospect Street)

Oct. 17 – Advanced Voting, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Village Office (7400 Prospect St.)

Oct. 20 – General Voting, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Pemberton & District Community Centre (7390 Cottonwood St.)