Tofino byelection candidates explain why they’re running

Town to vote on Nov. 2 to fill council seat left vacant by tragic death of Coun. Dorothy Baert

Tofino will vote in a byelection on Nov. 2. Six candidates have put their names forward to fill one vacant seat on the town’s municipal council. The Westerly News will be asking each candidate three questions and their answers will be published in three consecutive editions of the Westerly. The first question the candidates answered is ‘Why are you running for Tofino’s municipal council?’ The candidates were given a maximum word count of 300 words and the order of their answers below was selected at random.

OMAR SOLIMAN

There is no simple answer to this question. I think the best answer would be that all candidates feel like they can make a difference for the betterment of our community. We all have skills that would help point us in a direction that is beneficial for the majority of residents and workers. Some of those skills are specific, others are more broad and abstract, but regardless, we all can contribute either as elected officials, as workers, or even simply as candidates, to help make aware and to mitigate potential problems arising in our community. I feel like I have identified some of these problems, and I know I will never have all the answers (maybe just some ideas), but what I do know is that I will always speak up and champion the communities ideas, needs, morals, and principles, because that’s what a leader needs to do, not wants to do.

CATHY THICKE

I am pleased to be running again for a seat on Tofino’s Council. After two previous terms ( 2011-2018), I feel well-qualified for the job and understand the time commitments and process of municipal governance well. I feel coming onto Council mid-term it will be important to “hit the ground running.”

I am very familiar with the current issues facing the Tofino Council, including wastewater treatment, affordable housing, and tourism management.

I have lived in Tofino since 1989, and served as Library Trustee, Tonquin Trail Committee Chair, Community Economic Development Committee, Tourism Tofino Board, and the Recreation Commission, amongst others. Currently, I am the District of Tofino representative for the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust ( 2011), and have served as Co-chair for four years. I volunteer as a member of the Provincial Tourism Ministers’ Engagement Council, under Minister Lisa Baere. Other issues I am quite passionate about include:

1. The Library, and the need to continue to advocate locally and provincially for a new and expanded library which would serve not only the District of Tofino but a larger region.

2. Fitness and recreation. I have spent many years as a fitness consultant, and PE teacher to both Elementary and Secondary schools, internationally and locally. I am interested in a new indoor recreation facility in Tofino.

3. The senior population of Tofino: the age-friendly plan was a good beginning, but we need to provide more opportunities.

I support financially responsible initiatives addressing affordable housing, wastewater treatment, and strategies for climate change mitigation as outlined in the DoT Strategic Plan ( 2019- 2021).

In summary, I believe I have the time, energy, and experience to serve on the Tofino Council. If elected, I will endeavour to be a voice for the diverse views of our wonderful community!

STEPHEN ASHTON

I’m running for Council because I feel their needs to be a strong voice for the environment and for making it easier for locals to be able to afford to live in Tofino.

Living in Tofino has been an incredible experience for me. As a 20-year-plus full time resident, I have seen many, many changes. It is now getting to the point however, where the high costs of living here is affecting residents ability to have a west coast lifestyle. To alleviate some of the financial burden of the tourism industry, we need to be able to access more funds to offset the infrastructure needed to give our tourists a great experience. It is unfair to expect a small town like Tofino and its residents to shoulder the bulk of the expenses, like our share of the required sewage plant.

It is the year-round residents that make up any community. If we lose these people, we will lose our community. We will just become another tourist town without a soul. It’s easy to believe that climate change action is for the Federal government or UN to act upon. It isn’t. As a coastal community, we will be feeling the changes directly. A local council has many ways to encourage behaviour that will lower our reliance on burning carbon and if elected, I would be championing these ideas. We still have the opportunity to make decisions to slow the effects of climate change. I worry that if we don’t, we won’t have the ability to act, we will just be re-acting.

These two issues are directly linked. If we don’t address climate change then in the near future, the costs and difficulties of living on the coast may become insurmountable. We must act now.

CRAIG HEBER

I am running for the same reasons I ran in 2018, to ensure that Council represents the interests of the real majority of Tofino’s voters rather than the minority interests of those that profit from tourism at all costs.

For too many Councils since I made Tofino my home in 2005, their decisions ignore the real needs of a viable community for all.

From daycare and affordable housing to services for Seniors and Youth, Tofino needs to address the needs of its citizens better.

I believe in transparency and balance in long and short term planning, that tourism development and services ought to pay their fair share of the costs rather than relying on others to finance their profiteering.

Too often bad decisions by Council have led to needless wasting of annual budgets, fighting in Court and paying out to plaintiffs that were harmed. I want to ensure that the new sewage plant doesn’t end up in the same boondoggle as others have.

I want to ensure that children, youth, adults and seniors that live here don’t continue to lose out to the behemoth that Tourism has evolved to become and forced to move.

Dorothy recognized that balance needs to be restored and adapted, promising to work for that.

Electing a Councillor that will bring ‘more of the same’ is not what Toficians need.

I was elated by the diversity that ran in 2018, and those that won with the increase in voters casting a ballot, just as I was when those same voters brought change to the Coop Board elections.

I want to give electors a reason to turn out to vote. If YOU believe that Tofino needs a Councillor focused on community needs balanced against Tourism, thinks ‘outside the box’ with experience and desire to inform voters: VOTE 4 ME.

DAN LAW

Over the last eighteen years, Tofino has been very good to me. I’ve raised a family, started and finished a career as a registered nurse, earned a Master of Arts degree, run several small businesses, volunteered extensively in theatre, arts, and education, and finally, succeeded as a full-time professional artist.

I am now excited at the prospect of using my knowledge, experience, and creative energy to serve my community as a councillor. I am running for Council in order to help meet present needs, and to help create a vision and a plan for the future which protects Tofino’s natural beauty and unique spirit.

As a business owner, I understand the unique opportunities and challenges facing many local entrepreneurs; I want to work with Council to continue to foster Tofino’s vibrant business culture, while ensuring that economic initiatives are responsible, sustainable, and preserve the environment that makes Tofino special.

As a professional artist, I experience daily the rewards of pursuing a creative life; as a councillor, I want to share my enthusiasm for the arts, and champion the arts as a dynamic and increasingly rich cultural pillar. As an artist, I also look forward to bringing a creative artistic perspective to Council decisions.

As a father, I understand that raising children in a remote resort community with little housing and few amenities can be extremely challenging (and at times impossible). I am passionate about working with Council to strengthen existing supports, while at the same time finding new ways to make Tofino a more healthy, holistic community which supports all ages.

Finally, I have been, and am, a keen lifelong learner. I am particularly excited at the opportunity to learn to listen better, to speak more intentionally, and to humbly serve my community on a public level.

RONNIE LEE

If elected to council I would work to find creative solutions to reducing the tax burden that we will be facing over the next five years.

Our town is growing in population and it is important that our community has a concrete strategy to put in place the proper infrastructure and resources to sustain this growth.

During my time here in Tofino I have been listening to the voices of Tofitians, in both work and in social settings. Members of this community have needs such as childcare and affordable housing, that they are concerned are not being met. I believe that listening to the needs and questions of our community is important, and that the process of finding solutions and answers in a transparent and accountable way is key to a credible dialogue between our community and our council.

We have so many sustainable and earth conscience small businesses here. We should take pride in being at the forefront of municipal climate action. As a community we should be doing our best to make this town a welcoming place for local entrepreneurs to invest their time and money in sustainable earth friendly business endeavours. Tofino, as we all know, is a great spot to experience life, but shouldn’t be something we take for granted, otherwise our oceans, beaches and forests will be destroyed. Tofino should be a place where having a successful career and a safe home to live and raise a family is something achievable for residents, from all walks of life.

READ MORE: Tofino mourns sudden loss of municipal councillor and community champion

READ MORE: Tofino set for Nov. 2 municipal byelection

READ MORE: Tofino mayor Josie Osborne re-elected

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