Only one of five Shuswap directors at the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board intends to call it a day.
Area F North Shuswap director Denis Delisle is ready to hang up his hat after serving on the board for six years.
Throwing their hats into the election ring are Area B Revelstoke-Columbia director Loni Parker, Area C South Shuswap director Ted Bacigalupo, Area D Falkland/Silver Creek/ Ranchero’s René Talbot and Area E rural Sicamous Rhona Martin.
After 21 years of serving her constituents, Martin is still enthusiastic about the job.
“There’s still so much to do. There’s a lot of things happening right now and I think I’m still able to serve my constituents,” she says. “It’s a passion of mine and I care about the community and the region.”
Looking back on her long tenure, Martin says she’s probably most proud of getting 911 service to the region.
“That made a difference,” she says of the long, arduous process. “I think it has probably saved a lot of lives.”
In the same vein, Martin is proud of being involved with the growth of the Shuswap Emergency Program over the past decade and the help it provides to people involved in traumatic events.
“It’s always great when you can help somebody in the area, even when it’s a little problem, because what’s a little problem to me is a big problem to them,” she says. “It’s good to help them through the process and reach a successful outcome.”
Looking ahead, Martin says finding a way to boost the local economy is foremost on her list of concerns.
“We have so many people in our area that are struggling,” she says. “This is probably the worst I have seen it for a long time and it is going to take work at the local level but also with provincial and federal support.”
Making sure Sicamous schools are properly supported is also on Martin’s list.
Bacigalupo had an upbeat response when asked if he’d be running again to represent the South Shuswap.
“Of course I’ll be back, I’ve never had so much fun,” says Bacigalupo.
After serving for nine years, Talbot would also like to take one more kick at the political can.
“I would like one more term to see some of the things I’ve initiated completed, then turn them over to someone,” he says, pointing to the completion of an OCP and zoning bylaws for Ranchero and Deep Creek, and the start of an OCP and parks plan for Silver Creek and Falkland.
Talbot says that other than meetings where participants have been known to stray from the agenda and initiate personal attacks, he has enjoyed his years on the board.
Delisle, meanwhile, has enjoyed his seat at the board table, but says the workload has far outpaced the salary.
“I don’t have a way of separating my life from a job that really needs attention and the stipend is pretty low for the time it takes to deal with the issues in North Shuswap,” he said Monday. “It’s really gotten busy in the last 10 years or so.”
Delisle says the issues around the West Beach development have provided the biggest challenge in his six-year tenure.
Among his proudest accomplishments, Delisle points to his role on the North Shuswap Health Society and the hopeful creation of a clinic in Scotch Creek.
“The thing I’m most proud of is having a pretty good communication system through articles in the local newspaper, an email list and meeting people at meetings, making them aware of what’s going on.”
Looking beyond his term, Delisle expects development will always be a big issue, with ongoing differences between year-round and seasonal residents. Other issues include infrastructure problems with the Anglemont Water System, the health of Shuswap Lake and full-time employment.
“One of the things I wanted to do was establish better communication with First Nations, but I just never had the time to pursue that,” he says. “I’m gonna go back to being a prospector, stone mason and general all-around working stiff, and try and make a living like everybody else.”
Sicamous Mayor Malcolm MacLeod, a municipal director with the CSRD, will be seeking a second term as mayor and hopes to continue working at the regional government level as well.
“I am most proud of the relationships I have built with other levels of government – CSRD, provincial and federal,” he says. “They’ve been fairly supportive of Sicamous. That’s where we get grants, so we have to have those relationships.”
MacLeod is also proud of the relationship he has established with District of Sicamous staff.
“We’ve accomplished all kinds of things over the past three years; we’ve completed our new civic hall and we’re working toward completion of sewage infrastructure,” he says, noting his concern for the economic challenges ahead, many of them because of what’s happening at the provincial level. “One of our biggest assets is tourism, but people have to realize we have competition with Alberta, Idaho, Montana and Washington. Within a short period of time, you can travel there and get gas, alcohol and other essentials, and it’s getting worse.”