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Mayor-elect Peter Robb says cannabis, housing first on his agenda

Robb joins Victor Smith, Scott Medlock, Dusty Smith, Craig Traun, Heather Stewin and Bob Erickson at the council table

Peter Robb is the new mayor-elect of the District of Hope.

Robb received 1,293 votes, runner-up and incumbent Wilfried Vicktor received 523 votes and candidate Cindy Young gathered 154 votes.

RELATED: Hope, meet your mayoral candidates

Robb joins councillors-elect Victor Smith, Scott Medlock, Dusty Smith, Craig Traun, Heather Stewin and Bob Erickson (in the order of number of votes received) as the elected leaders of the district for the next term. Hope’s new leadership will be sworn in at a ceremony in early November.

Hope, meet your Mayor

“I’m not surprised by the results, but I’m surprised maybe by how big my lead was,” Robb said at a celebration at the Hope Legion Saturday night following the announcement. Robb beat out incumbent Wilfried Vicktor with a 770 vote lead, earning 64.8 per cent of the total votes.

With three terms on council, Robb is no stranger to local politics. After a four year break, he decided to run for Mayor and announced his intentions back in February.

At the time Robb said he wanted to tackle the Station House and visitor center, an issue he said was mishandled by previous councils. He also wanted to give attention to Silver Creek, ‘a neglected part of the community’, by adding a sidewalk and lighting on Richmond Hill and connecting homes to the sewer system who are currently on septic tanks.

RELATED: Race for Hope mayor starts early

When asked Oct. 20 what his first orders of business would be, Robb answered cannabis and housing.

“We have to deal with the cannabis issues in town and I want to put that task force together, that I talked about, on housing. All housing, not just low end or high end. Throughout the community, we need to look at our affordable housing issues. That’s where I’ll start,” he said.

On Station House, Robb said he needed to get up to speed on the issue and provincial government’s position before taking any steps. 

“Obviously I want to develop that corner. What it looks like I don’t know, but I do within my mandate in the next four years to solve that issue. It needs to be done,” he said.

Wifried Vicktor says his goodbyes

Former Mayor Wilfried Vicktor came to the Hope Legion to congratulate Robb in person, giving his opponent ‘full marks’ for running a strong campaign.

“My assumption was that the council record would speak for itself because we had a very productive four years. We kept the budget under control, had a lot of capital projects finished off. Had some plans for some future ones,” Vicktor said.

“Obviously I’m disappointed but we’re not leaving under a cloud. Some people lose elections because there was a performance issue or because there’s a cloud. There’s no cloud here. We had a council that worked really well together, there were no scandals, no misuse of money, it was just smooth sailing.”

Vicktor chalked up his defeat to people wanting change sometimes, referencing what happened both federally in Canada and at the presidential level in the U.S.

Vicktor said it has been an honour to serve the community. While he is not sure what the future holds other than more travel now that he doesn’t have the mayoral responsibilities, he didn’t rule out being back in campaign mode in four years.

RELATED: Twelve of thirteen council hopefuls face off at all candidates meeting

New councillors talk priorities, action

Four of the six new councillors-elect were present at the Hope Legion once results were announced on election night.

First-time councillor-elect Victor Smith garnered the most support of all candidates, 1,430 votes. He thanked the community for their support and said he has worked with most of his soon-to-be colleagues, adding they are ‘very good, very giving people.’

“I sat back for the first four years, a little bit more than I wanted to. So I definitely want to speak up a little bit more,” councillor-elect Dusty Smith said Saturday.

He enters his second term on council with 1,093 votes. As for priorities, Smith said completing a walking path to Silver Creek over Richmond Hill is top of mind, as is what to do about Station House and the visitor centre.

“They’re sitting in a crummy trailer right now and it’s not right. It’s not good for anybody, especially as a community with four highways going through it,” he said of the visitor centre.

Dusty Smith also spoke about the 753 Water System issue which came up in the lead up to the election. The water system provides water to 137 households in the Kawkawa Lake area according to reporting from the Hope Standard in 2017, and the district has long been pondering whether, and how, to take it over.

First-time councillor-elect Craig Traun, who came in with 1,034 votes, also celebrated at the Legion Saturday.

“I’m new to it, obviously. I’m going to sit on my hands a bit and listen for the first few months,” said the second generation Hope resident, who runs Glen Traun Landscaping.

While he doesn’t have specific issues he wants to tackle right off the bat, Traun said there are ongoing issues such as the U-Save roundhouse and gas station, Richmond Hill and Station House that need to be dealt with.

Scott Medlock said both the cannabis survey and what to do about the visitors centre are top of mind as he prepares to enter his fourth term on council. He said the mix of elected officials is a positive outcome of the election.

“I think it’s a really good mix. The mayor, Peter, served three terms on council so he’s not fresh but he is in the mayor’s seat. And then we’ve got sort of a mix of four incumbents and two new councillors. So I think that’s pretty good,” he said.

Medlock commented on the fact that there was only one female councillor-elect, Heather Stewin, whereas the last four years have seen close to equal representation of women and men at the council table.

When asked about this, Stewin joked that she would have to buy a suit and tie to fit in at the council table.

On a serious note, she added there would likely be no change from her last term, as the new colleagues she will be working with are all respectful and will make a good team.

In terms of priorities, Stewin said she is a ‘foundation person’ rather than a single issue councillor and would like the district to be ready with policies and plans, and be ‘open to all possibilities’ that come to the district.

Ongoing work she is interested to see bear fruit include the district’s water, sewer and stormwater studies as well as affordable housing.

Councillor-elect Bob Erickson, who was re-elected with 841 votes, said there are a number of projects he wants to see the district move on. These include bringing sewage hookup to properties in Floods, fixing Othello Road and finding a home for visitor services.

“My biggest thing for the next for years is trying to find a resolution for the tourist information centre. I’ve always been in favour of buying Anderson’s property and…moving the town hall up there and then bringing tourist information right downtown,” he said.

Erickson stressed Mayor Wilfried Vicktor’s leadership over the past four years was a key factor in the successes he said council had, including keeping tax increases to two per cent, upgrades to the sewage treatment plant as well as attracting new permanent staff members.

A total of thirteen candidates ran for council, their results are as follows: Victor Smith (1,430), Scott Medlock (1,250), Dusty Smith (1,093), Craig Traun (1,034), Heather Stewin (927), Bob Erickson (841), Steven Patterson (772), Donna Kropp (634), Paul Stock (584), Sharlene Hinds (426), Matthew Steberl (368), John Duff (338) and Sung Yun Wong (139).

An estimated 5,036 people were eligible to vote in the district, according to Civic Info BC. A total of 1,996 people or 39.6 per cent cast their ballots.

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The entourage photographed the triumphant councillors and mayor at the Legion Saturday. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
Five of seven members of Hope’s newly elected council celebrated at the Legion in Hope Saturday. They are, from left, Victor Smith, Mayor Peter Robb, Scott Medlock, Dusty Smith and Craig Traun. Heather Stewin and Bob Erickson were also re-elected to council. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
It looked like councillor Victor Smith, right, already had the ear of Hope’s new Mayor Peter Robb. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
Peter Robb celebrates his win with well-wishers at Hope’s Legion, including council hopeful Steven Patterson, who came close to a seat on council with 772 votes. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard