I am often asked many questions ranging from… “so, still on council, eh? Do you like it?” to “hey, Jen, why did you guys vote to … (fill in blank)?” Often, these questions seem rhetorical, as if the person wants to make me squirm and see how I handle myself. For example, we voted in September 2018 to write and send a letter to the top 20 oil and gas producers asking them to consider the costs that municipalities face with the impacts of climate change. Every interest group out there asks councils to support their cause by declaring a “Day of X awareness” or to support and endorse the cause in some other public way. As a community, we are seeing the impacts of climate change, and have recognized a need to address what we can do here at home. We have taken seriously the commuters impact on our GHG emissions. We build affordable housing so that resort employees can live close to their workplace. We have supported and built extensive transit ridership and made single occupancy vehicles the less-attractive choice. We are going after a better regional transit model to help workers from Squamish and Pemberton get to Whistler. We have dozens of initiatives underway to address lower emission building practices through our Community Energy and Climate Action Plan.
Well, I intend to put into action some of the great ideas I learned this past week at the Local Government Leadership Academy Elected Officials Seminar in Richmond. The first one I will address is that we, local government electeds, are in the QUESTIONS business, not the “I HAVE THE ANSWER” business. I will ask questions, hopefully good (well researched, thoughtful) questions of staff. Our municipal staff are smart, intelligent and thoughtful people who care deeply about our community. I wish to learn from them, so that the community can also learn and understand why municipal assets are planned for, paid for, and taken care of in the way that we do.
So the next time you ask me “why don’t you just…” please bring me your suggestions, your ideas, and your open mind. Because it is never as simple as just… build a daycare, build more housing, send a bus up that road more often, or just stop spending money while improving services. It JUST doesn’t work that way.