Hope’s newest council is excited to get started on improving the city.
The 2022 municipal election saw great changes across B.C. as new councils and mayors were elected into position. For Hope, this meant a new mayor-elect, four new council-elects, and two councillors returning this term. The six councillors elected were Pauline Newbigging, incumbent Scott Medlock, incumbent Heather Stewin, Angela Skoglund, Crystal Sedore, and Zachary Wells. They’re joining first time Mayor-elect Victor Smith as the newly elected leaders of the district and will be sworn in early November.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to move [Hope] forward here… finding a way to be progressive, grow the community in a steady pace, while still maintaining that small town feel,” said Medlock. “But adding value to the residents that live here. [And] we definitely got the message that emergency preparedness is something that the community really wants to see more work done on.”
Three of the councillors — Wells, Medlock, and Sedore — were at the Owl Street Cafe with Smith when they learned the news — from Medlock’s wife via text — that they had won seats on council. Newbigging and Skoglund were at the Hope Legion Hall, attending the 75th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Hope when they learned they’d been elected. Meanwhile, Stewin had awaited the results at home and celebrated with her family.
For the first time in Hope’s history, a majority of the council will be made up of women, one of which is incumbent Stewin who sits on the current council as well as the school board. This makes this council the most diverse — in terms of gender, experience, age, and background — to serve the district.
“I’m happy to see that it’s going to be a women-majority council, which is kind of nice. And it’s a good range of life experiences,” said Skoglund. “I would like to see a council that is more open with the community as a whole and provides a lot more communication. I think there needs to be more communication as far as what’s going on. So that the community itself has a better perspective and doesn’t think the council is hiding stuff.”
Which is something that Stewin also agrees with.
“I think communication will be the top thing we need to do and keep people informed about everything we’re doing,” she said. “[And] we’re going to take a really good look at our intersections, and the walk-ability of our community. And hopefully we can throw in some accessibility to our community — like the traffic light on Third and Wallace. And we just had our stormwater master management plan. Which is super exciting.”
The councillors say they are excited to work with each other and to address the issues troubling the community. All of them acknowledge that a lot needs to be done. And for those new to being on council — such as Newbigging, Skoglund, and Sedore — they’re ready to learn.
“I’m pretty excited. I’m also nervous, because I’m not really a politician but I’m invested in the community and I want what’s best for the town,” said Newbigging. “I think the roads is something that really, truly, needs to be addressed. There’s little potholes, and little sinkholes, that need to be fixed… I think for the peoples’ safety, that is something that really has to be addressed.”
A number of concerns have been on the minds of many Hope residents, such as emergency preparedness planning, housing, homelessness, improving working relationships with First Nations communities, and improving road infrastructure. Residents will be looking to those elected to address and alleviate these concerns.
Sedore agrees that these issues need to be addressed by the council this term. However, one thing she feels should be addressed is gaining back the trust of the people — which she feels was reflected in the voter turnout for this election.
“I want to see a community that supports the leaders and the leaders support the community,” said Sedore. “People are not engaged. People are not interested. I think there’s a lack of faith in [their] community leaders. And I’d like to bring back a council that works in conjunction with their community members.”
A total of 1,623 ballots were cast, with an estimated 5,523 people in Hope eligible to vote. This means voter turnout was around 29 per cent which is a significant decrease from last election, when voter turnout was around 39.6 per cent.