Tell us, briefly, about your background, where you call home, your political experience and why you decided to run this year?
I grew up in a small town with a single father and two younger brothers. Life was tough for us. We relied on our community and dependable services. There were a lot of things we went without despite my father working many late nights. He was so proud when I got enough scholarships to go to university.
I met my wife, Christina, at the University of Victoria in a Water Management class and since then we have worked for forestry in Alberta, the National Parks in Jasper and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
Nowadays, we call Lillooet home where I am a First Nations Relations Advisor with the Ministry of Forests. I decided to run this year because, as a young person, I am tired of our politicians ignoring or not taking climate change seriously. I will work hard to ensure our climate and communities are supported.
What do you see as the top three issues facing Hope and area currently and over the next decade?
Hope is a beautiful place to live. I have heard concerns from voters about mental health, a downturn in the tourism sector, and a lack of investment in rural communities. These three issues are somewhat connected – we can work on improving these with the right willpower from government.
The lack of access to mental health services has led to British Columbians not receiving the care they need when they need it most. If we are serious about building back better as a province, then increasing accessibility and affordability to mental health services must be a priority going forward.
Taxes need to benefit all communities. If people don’t see benefits from taxes, they become bitter paying them. The BC Greens want to spend tax dollars more effectively. The Greens are dedicated to supporting tourism throughout the province to get our businesses through the pandemic so that we can all recover.
How do you balance Hope’s needs with the needs of the more economically depressed communities in the district?
The BC Green Party policies will benefit everyone while maintaining services for our rural communities. This means investing in initiatives for small businesses and tourism while working on ensuring that our natural resources are managed sustainably.
The Greens also commit to introducing public mental health care and improving childcare options for families. These policies benefit everyone, in Hope, and beyond.
As a Green MLA, I will work for all communities to ensure jobs remain in towns, support small businesses, and work with First Nations communities to ensure that culture is protected and celebrated. I understand we are a large riding with many different interests. I would seek to balance needs amongst the various communities. I want to work with everyone to ensure that our communities continue to grow, our services continue to be local, and that we are moving forward together.
BC Housing is planning for a 52-unit supportive housing building in Hope. How do you see this proposed build filling the need in the community and what other, if any, housing investments would you advocate for if elected?
Homelessness is an important issue that needs to be urgently addressed in British Columbia. It’s an issue that is complex and involves one of the most basic human needs. Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure at home and in their neighbourhood, while at the same time everyone has the right to have a home. This supportive housing unit will address the needs of people in Hope. This building is a good first step for many who have struggled with homelessness.
If I am elected, I would advocate for more housing. People across the age and economic spectrum are struggling to find housing despite working full-time jobs. That shouldn’t be the case. Yes, we need to ensure everyone has a warm place to sleep at night, but we also need to address the underlying problems that are causing homelessness in the first place.
What kind of a relationship do you think an MLA should have with First Nations in the district and, if elected, what are concrete steps you would take to build this relationship?
As a First Nations Relations Advisor for the Ministry of Forests I know that the province needs to work on its relationship with First Nations communities. I hear, daily, that First Nations governments want to move ahead in their relationship with the province and, oftentimes, the province doesn’t move fast enough.
I want to work on my personal relationships with First Nations across the riding but particularly in the Hope area. Currently, I am reaching out to First Nations communities and asking if we can meet. As MLA, I would meet with First Nations regularly. During COVID-times, I understand that some communities don’t want visitors. I would love to get out and visit when it is appropriate and learn and collaborate on ways that we can improve the lives of all Indigenous people in Fraser-Nicola and around Hope.
Tell us one surprising or unique thing about yourself.
In 2018 I moved to New Zealand where I worked for the New Zealand Department of Conservation. I worked with some Maori co-workers and worked on remote offshore islands. These islands were called “lifeboats” because they were, for some species, the last places in the world for some animal and plant species.
I became a birder which was new for me and I saw many endangered animals. My time in New Zealand showed me how governments can more effectively work with Indigenous Governments, protect endangered species, and have a more effective government.