Tofino’s byelection candidates, from left, Cathy Thicke, Dan Law, Craig Heber, Ronnie Lee Omar Soliman and Stephen Ashton. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Tofino byelection candidates lay out what sets them apart

Tofino will vote in a byelection on Nov. 2.

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 asked each candidate three questions and their answers were published in three consecutive editions of the Westerly. So far, the candidates have explained why they are running and what they believe are the town’s most pressing issues. The third and final question we posed to the candidates was ‘What sets you apart from the other candidates?’ The candidates were given a maximum word count of 300 words and the order of their answers below was selected at random.

RONNIE LEE

What sets me apart from the other candidates running in this election is my determination to succeed and my love for helping others. Growing up in a small town has taught me the benefits of support- ing your peers within your community. It has taught me how rewarding it is to lift each other up and share in one another’s successes.

I have spent my three years here in Tofino building a new busi- ness from the ground up from one employ- ee selling bbq in a tent to 32 employees and three locations throughout town. I am ambitious, motivated and work well with others. I believe that actions speak louder then words and I hope that mine have done so for me throughout the work I have done in this community over the past three years.

If elected to council, I will bring to the position my core values of family, com- munity and helping others; paired with my ambition and drive to succeed. Tofino can count on me to provide a stable, rational approach to the issues that will be presented to council.

STEPHEN ASHTON

I live off the grid. My home generates all the electricity that I consume through solar panels on the roof. My primary vehicle for most of the year is my kayak. I have been a long time board member of the Friends of Clayoquot Sound and am dedicated to action on climate change. In 2010, when I was on Tofino Council, I introduced the motion directing staff to ban franchises in Tofino because of their negative impact on health and our business community. A good council will have a variety of voices representing small business, family needs, community interests and environmental concerns. Currently, I don’t feel there is a strong advocate for action on climate change and I would like to be that voice.

If elected, I would bring forth this motion to council: That a letter been drafted to both the Federal and Provincial governments urging them to create policy, incentives, and an overall plan that would immediately help those individuals and families to transition to a less carbon burning lifestyle. We can become resilient and self reliant. Please Vote.

OMAR SOLIMAN

As I have said countless times, I believe each of us as candidates have skills that would help better this community. We are equal in wanting to see our town grow and prosper. We are equal in the love that we have for the people of this community and for the land that we have the privilege of calling home. We are equal in our commitment to the job that is required of us if elected, and are equal in our commitment to this town even if not. We all love Tofino, and being elected or not will never change that, because that’s what community is all about. It’s not about finding our differences, winning or losing, or even debating the best course of action. It’s about finding a common ground so that we may build on a foundation of trust, integrity, and love.

CATHY THICKE

What sets me apart from other candidates in the by-election race for the seat on Tofino Council is the experience I bring from 7 years on Council ( 2011- 2018) to the Council elected in 2018. I am familiar with the process of municipal governance, and how to take leadership, both municipally and provincially. I have served as the co-chair of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust; the only board in the region to encompass 5 First Nations, 2 Districts, and the ACRD with advisors from Provincial and Federal levels. I am pleased to be part of a UNESCO Biosphere Board, in which decision making is based on collaboration and consensus. While not perfect, it is truly reconciliation in action on many levels. I also believe in the founding principles of our Biosphere – hišukniš c̓awaak (everything is one and interconnected).

Having lived in Tofino for 30 years, and integrally connected to the Biosphere I understand the nature, and history of the environmental changes and challenges. I have put forward policy to update the significant tree bylaw, held strong to riparian zones and setbacks, and encouraged updates to the Strategic Plan which has fostered steps to mitigate climate change in our District.

I have a Masters in Tourism Management ( 2011) and I am very interested in promoting sustainable tourism in Tofino. I returned to University to gain understanding, and apply this knowledge to Tofino, completing a final paper on the benefits of Educational Tourism in Tofino. I understand the pros and cons of a tourism town, the MRDT agreement, and the mixed blessing of being one of 14 RMI communities within BC. I was appointed to the Tourism Ministers Engagement Council for B.C. for 2017-2020.

I would be honoured to serve again on the Council for Tofino.

DAN LAW

I am invested in Tofino. I’m committed to ensuring Tofino remains a place to live and grow and belong for all residents.

Over the past eighteen years in Tofino I’ve built a large bank of work experience from which to draw. Whether making and selling art, running small businesses, writing and directing plays for local theatre, nursing trauma patients, or repairing and maintaining vacation rentals, all my work experiences give me a broad and invaluable insight into what it means to work and run a business in Tofino.

Over that same period I’ve developed many friendships with people of all ages, of all walks of life, and across all economic and social spheres. Through these friendships I’ve learned to appreciate more fully what makes a vibrant, healthy, and diverse community.

Through these friendships I’ve also learned first hand the tensions and burdens that threaten people’s ability to remain in Tofino. I’m dedicated to working with council, to mitigate the pressures and costs that threaten to force people to leave the place they call home. I’m also dedicated to working with Council to find new and creative ways to protect our environment – to ensure Tofino’s natural beauty is permanently preserved.

I have the energy, the time, the ability, and the passion to help Council lead Tofino through this pivotal time – to think creatively, to reach out to all people and community groups in order to find creative and equitable solutions to our most pressing issues.

CRAIG HEBER

I will factually and honestly hold Council to account for their decisions, inaction and spin without compromising my views or the voters.

Council didn’t hear residents in 2018, continuing with the status quo instead.

Despite Housing Crisis and tax burden of a 15000 capacity Treatment Plant by 2000 residents paying a majority of its cost.

It was obvious residents wanted a GREEN MICROHOME solution that ‘respects’ Trees, Ecosystems and Climate Change.

Yet Council didn’t change plans for Sharp Rd. or DL114.

Council only finalized $44 Million in grants already earmarked in 2018, failing to secure any revenue streams from Tla-o-qui-aht, the Park or Tourism Sector.

Failing residents facing 50% tax increase over 5 years

Despite balance transparency and communication being issues in 2018, Council moved to limit ‘presentations with minutes of their meetings ‘difficult’ to access.

A year after ‘legalization’ and an unconstitutional Bylaw, LEGAL dispensaries aren’t open in Tofino.

The 2 Council plans utilize the ‘infamous’ 3 Year Conditional Use Permit ‘punting’ problems down the road.

Council decisions that have led to these ‘strains’ on long term residents can’t be fixed by candidates that sat at the table.

Omar is correct that ‘communication’ and the ‘majority’ should determine all Council decisions.

Ronnie is correct that ’ lack of fiscal planning for the future’ created situation of Unaffordable Housing and Tax burden on residential properties.

Dan sums it up perfectly, ’ Council needs to ensure’ that a ‘successful’ Tourism Industry serves the community first’.

I reject the status quo and inertia of Council’s decisions.

Affordable GREEN MICROHOMES are required to preserve the unique character of TOFINO and essential for retaining it’s fundamental marketing tool; TOFICIANS.

I will be a motivated voice of the majority; innovative, creative and focused on 21st Century solutions balancing tax burdens fairly.

READ MORE: WATCH: Tofino byelection candidates respond to community concerns at forum

READ MORE: Tofino byelection candidates explain why they’re running

READ MORE: Tofino byelection candidates highlight town’s key issues

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