Tofino’s candidates for mayor and council answer questions during an All Candidates Forum hosted by the Tofino Long Beach Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 2. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Q&A with Tofino’s candidates for council

What do you feel is the most important issue facing your community and what sets you apart?

West Coast communities will vote for their next representatives in an Oct. 20 election. We asked each candidate running in Tofino and Ucluelet as well as School District 70 and Electoral Area C what they feel is the most important issue facing their community and what sets them apart from the other candidates.

Tofino council candidates

Al Anderson

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

Tofino’s biggest challenge is housing. I want to work towards improving the housing supply by continuing past efforts of council and the Tofino Housing Corporation. Council has prioritized housing and that means all development should have a housing component to receive approval. Pressures from increased tourism and limits to water supply will make that task all the more difficult. Current senior government have opportunities we must take advantage of. Creating better recreational infrastructure is also a high priority and I would work toward making a rec centre and new library a reality. It’s all about community and family life.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I am putting myself forward for reelection after seventeen years of serving our community. I like the work of council. I know the value of a good strategic plan that focusses the direction of council’s four year term. I work in a respectful manner, trying to incorporate all councillors ideas into good decision making. I am familiar with the processes and governance structures that municipalities operate under. I can bring my experience, understanding and historical knowledge to the table to help guide council’s actions as we face our present challenges and those that will inevitably arise. I have great respect for our indigenous neighbouring communities.

Stephen Ashton

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

I hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain every year. Despite the incredible scenery that I see, what makes the journey special are the people like Spain, it’s the people of Tofino that make our town so special. I have been Vice President of the Chamber, manager of a large resort, owner of a bed and breakfast, former elected councillor, volunteer, and currently work at the Tofino Hospital, Liquor Store and teach at NIC.I am an ardent supporter of independent businesses and Arts and Culture.I would like to be able to bring these experiences if elected as councillor.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

Ensuring that Council is making the lives of people who live and work here year round better. If I get elected to Council, I want this to be the determining factor governing any decision made by council. As taxes, utilities, and living expenses continue to rise, Council needs to ensure that locals needs are met first. Affordable housing is key in making lives of locals better. I would like to see a committee made up of locals who’s lives are affected by this crisis be given a mandate to create 50 units within 2 years. It can be done.

Dorothy Baert

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

Accessible, affordable Housing is still a pressing issue; Liquid Waste Treatment is a huge challenge to affordability. Tourism and its impacts on affordability and the quality of community life must be addressed. Tourism must carry equitable financial responsibility for the impacts of the industry. I am presently lobbying for a 1% tourism services tax to be used for infrastructure and operations. New, budding entrepreneurs need affordable retail space. I am committed to economic stability and resilience so families can live and work here. Should I be re-elected, I will continue as a strong, committed voice for implementing thoughtful solutions.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I consistently kept Councils focus on housing and affordability. This included re-instating the Tofino Housing Corporation and predevelopment, shovels in the ground solutions. I strongly support the formation of a Tourism Oversight Advisory Committee to address impact issues. I will make every effort to secure 100% capital funding for the Treatment Plant. My ten years experience on Council has taught me not to be afraid of difficult situations when advancing ideas and solutions that are in the community interest. I am resourceful, energetic and committed to working in service to Tofino, my home and the community that I love.

Britt Chalmers

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

While affordable and available housing is a pressing election issue, I feel a new topic has come forth as a key issue. The building and running of the new planned sewage treatment plant is resulting in a much larger than expected increase in property taxes. This brings up the question, with the high influx of tourist that come to Tofino each here how can we continue to build and maintain the necessary infrastructure to support the seasonal population increase without over burdening the relatively small tax base.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am running to create more widespread equal representation on council and to give the younger families and individuals a voice. I have been in the community for ten years and have spent that time highly involved in many different areas of the community, through participation in events, volunteering in various organizations, fundraisers, and getting to know the people that I share this incredible space with. I stand apart because I am already deeply involved in the community and I see a need for a voice and an ear that is willing to listen.

Craig Heber

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

‘Due to its size and long term drain on our budget, Sewer Treatment Plant is THE overriding issue. Council’s current plans to finance the plant are especially pertinent for residents facing tax hikes. Illustrating again how Special Interests distort decisions, avoiding paying for capacity needs of infrastructure, as they profit unfairly. Council’s ban on cannabis retail and production foregoing Tofino’s share of BC’s Pot Tax flowing to revenue. Again illustrating how ideology TRUMPs common sense. Council has never properly planned for growth or leveraged it for predictable demand. From Water & Housing Shortages to Legal Cannabis, Council needs CHANGE. #BLT…Balance Legality & Transparency.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I possess a unique blend of education and experience that can bring Balance to Council. I studied Commerce majoring in Marketing, Small Business Management, Finance, MIS & Law. I was a performer/director in Chai Folk Ensemble in Winnipeg, very active in the Arts from catering concerts to working on television & movie sets.

I’ve been successful working in Goverment, Crown Corporations while operating various small businesses including consulting until I moved to Tofino in 2005. I’ve worked in Construction, Retail, Whale Watching, Hotel and as a Landscaper & Forager in Tofino. I have strengths in reading financial statements and preparing budgets and operated RoboFraudCanada online.

Chris Heisterman

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

Housing. More and more young families, individuals, and professionals are leaving Tofino because of the cost and unavailability of housing. It is a foundational need for everyone that impacts all functions of the community. Tofino needs to increase supply of properly zoned development in the public and private sector which favours and supports housing for local residents. With more locals in secured housing the community will only become stronger offering the services that all residents require. Services like: recreation for youth, roads, along with health and geriatric services.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I’m in my early 30’s, working in restaurants, tourism, and as an entrepreneur. I represent a major demographic of residents who are building or aspiring to build a life and/or family here in Tofino. Circumstances have made me fortunate enough to feel confident in my foundation and future here. This gives me key understandings of what aspiring individuals and families require to call Tofino a long term home.

Stephanie Hughes

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

Affordable Housing-Continue to make this a priority. Affordable housing both rental and owned is necessary in the short term and long term planning for Tofino.

Small Business Support and Development-We need to find creative ways to identify and diversify business opportunities in our region. Support of entrepreneurs and youth in business is a priority.

Support for Arts and Culture- Support for resident and visiting artists in all disciplines is an area where Mayor and Council can lead, and partner. Support for Species and Ecosystem Diversity in our region-We are so fortunate to live in a place that provides clean air, water, and land.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I am running for a seat on Tofino Council because I believe in contributing to our community in a way that is solution based, inclusive and respectful. Conscious governance on all issues I believe is the way forward, it reflects the diversity and spirit of our thriving coastal town.

Duncan McMaster

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

There are too many cans that have been kicked down the road for too many years: affordable & workforce housing, Liquid Waste Treatment (LWT), water supply and parking & road improvement. It is not all about projects and buildings, it is about our town becoming more responsive, accountable and innovative, while being fair and impartial in our dealings.

We must remain focused on affordable housing for the foreseeable future and beyond.

Tofino is mandated to have LWT by the year 2020. How this will be paid for without excessive taxpayer burden is a big concern.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

As a professional geophysicist I worked all over the world often in hostile environments.

This led me to gain considerable experience in negotiating contracts, finance, engineering and getting projects done, often with a common sense approach. With my wife I owned and operated a family restaurant and more recently ran a B&B in Tofino.

I believe this gives me empathy with small business owners. My volunteer work at Loaves and Fishes plus The Legion gives me insight into the problems the youth of Tofino face.

I am known for asking the hard questions that the more politically correct are afraid to ask.

Andrea McQuade

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

I believe that affordable housing and the waste water treatment plant are pressing to two separate and important demographics in this town, and I believe they are deeply linked. We are looking to simultaneously expand our capacity to house residents and lessen the tax impact of a waste water treatment plan upon existing homeowners. Creating a larger tax base through expediting housing, and approaching the funding of a new waste water treatment plan through grants and creative initiatives has to be a key focus of the new council. The approach to both has to be balanced and creative.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

What sets me apart is the diversity of the population that my life and my experience represents. I spent years managing a business that I didn’t own, in a town I can’t afford to buy a home in, in a tourism industry that affords me a beautiful life and a deep, deep love of this town. I believe that all of those things are found individually or collectively in the community that makes up Tofino. The experience and concern that I embody regarding the protection of that community and growing it in a sustainable manner makes my perspective invaluable.

Tom Stere

What do you feel is the most pressing election issue?

The most pressing issue Tofino is facing now is rapid growth and how the community will plan for its impact. Because of this largely unanticipated growth, we are facing a number of pressing issues. These include: municipal infrastructure (i.e., water and sewer) and appropriate mechanism for financing it; ensuring that current and potential residents are able to obtain housing; and the balance between residents, tourism and the environment. Finding and implementing solutions to these issues will be an important priority for our upcoming council.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

Having lived in this community for 30 years gives me a unique perspective and broad understanding of both the historical and current issues facing the residents of Tofino. I have a young family, work as a rescue specialist for the Canadian Coast Guard and have voluntarily served on several District and School committees. In the past I have worked for a community-based non-profit research organization and have managed a small business. Because of these experiences, I have had the opportunity to build relationships with residents from all walks of life and have shared many of the challenges that face them.

Also running for Tofino council are Jason Brown and Eric Kingsley.

READ MORE: Tofino’s municipal candidates make their pitch at forum

READ MORE: Q&A with Tofino’s candidates for mayor

READ MORE: Q&A with Ucluelet’s candidates for mayor

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