Pemberton has its first crop of declared candidates for the upcoming municipal election. Six members of the local business community are running under the banner Valley Vision Leadership in Action (VVLA).
The slate, a first for Pemberton, hopes to form a local government that reflects the need for a long-term strategic plan that would incorporate the Village of Pemberton, the Pemberton Dyking District, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) and Mount Currie.
VVLA council candidate Brian Young, manager of the Pemberton Valley Golf Course, was the driving force behind the formation of the group. Having worked in the valley for the past 10 years, he was well versed in community concerns and wanted to get involved in creating solutions.
"The idea was that this group is going to spend hundreds of hours before the election to figure out the dynamics so theres little down time should we be fortunate enough to be elected," says Young. "I thought it was important that we look at creating a collaborative approach to government."
Although specific VVLA platform points will roll out in the coming weeks, sustainable community tops the agenda.
"We must plan for sustainable cultural, economic and social growth in the valley and then act on it. We must do this by emphasizing a collaborative leadership approach which strengthens the call for a group movement and new positive approach to Pembertons future," says mayoralty candidate Jordan Sturdy.
Sturdy, owner of North Arm Farms, a successful agritourism business, has resided in the Pemberton Valley since the late 80s. He expresses his community commitment through his work with the Pemberton Dyking District,the Pemberton Valley Trails Assoc., the Pemberton Farmers Institute and the Whistler Farmers Market Association. A graduate of this years inaugural class of the Sea to Sky Leadership program, he is currently attending the Leadership Executive Seminar at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado.
Some platform issues Sturdy and the other VVLA candidates identified through roundtable discussion reflect primary community concerns, such as recreation needs, infrastructure assessment, boundary expansion and government management particularly in how it relates to transparency and communication with tri-level government.
According to media spokesperson Sandy Ryan, the VVLA expects that the specifics of its platforms will be refined based on additional community input. It is expected that the platform will be solidified before the end of the nomination period.
Based on the composition of the slate, it is reasonable to expect that this platform will outline specific ways in which Electoral Area C and the VOP can work together.
"Whats good for Area C is good for the Pemberton Valley, therefore we need to stop butting heads and work together," said Al LeBlanc, the VVLA candidate for SLRD Electoral Area C director. "We need to channel our collective energies to accomplish our common goals."
LeBlanc, who has resided in the area since 1959, is the owner/operator of Albeth Contracting, a director of the Pemberton Dyking District and a third term member of the VOPs Design Review Committee.
Like Sturdy and LeBlanc, council candidates Jennie Helmer and Shayne May both have strong roots in the community.
The sole woman on the slate, Helmer, has been active in both the service and agricultural aspects of the local economy. (Her family begin growing potatoes in the valley in 1920.) Along with her sister and parents, she is involved in Helmer Organic Farms and, until very recently, she was co-owner of Pemberton Therapeutic. A registered massage therapist, she currently works as an ambulance attendant, and is completing her commerce degree at Royal Rhodes College.
At 25, May is the youngest VVLA candidate, but he successfully carries a load of responsibilities that one would expect of someone much older. May owns and operates Mountain Glass and Mirror, a business started by his father when the family moved to Pemberton 22 years ago. A former all-star player with Pemberton Secondary School, May now coaches basketball at PSS. He also sits on the marketing committee for the Pemberton Valley Golf and Country Club.
Rounding out the VVLA slate is council candidate David MacKenzie. A tourism professional with 14 years experience, the general manager of the Pemberton Valley Lodge is also chair of Tourism Pemberton. Before relocating to Pemberton last year, MacKenzie worked in Jasper, Alberta.
The VVLA expects to have its e-mail addresses ready next week so members of the public can contact candidates with their suggestions, questions and concerns.