Meet Your Tumbler Ridge Byelection Candidates

Lynsey Kitching
Tumbler Ridge will be having a byelection on Saturday, January 19, 2013 to replace Doug Beale’s seat on council. There are also advanced voting options on January 9 and 14, 2013. Voters will need two pieces of identification to vote.
The new councillor will take over for the remainder of the three year term, which is about two years. The candidates are Jerrilyn Rae Schembri, Don McPherson, Brenda Holmlund and Crosbie Jane Bourdeaux.
Here is a quick look at the candidates, why they are running for office and what they hope to bring to chambers.
Jerrilyn Schembri:
Schembri has served on council during the two previous terms and has been a Tumbler Ridge resident for 23 years. She says, “I’ve always been passionate about Tumbler Ridge and being part of solutions, rather than problems. When the by election was announced, I was the first person to get my papers in, because I missed the deadline for the last election.”
Schembri is a member of the UBCM, which is the Union of BC Municipalities and the NCLGA, North Central Local Government Association. She has been elected to represent Regional District Area E. 
She says, “I’ve always brought up Tumbler Ridge. Even though I’m area E, Tumbler Ridge is home and I never forget that. I believe that council has a lot of things going on right now that I’d like to be a part of. I don’t think there is a need to go into something to change it or add more.”
Schembri believes people move to Tumbler Ridge for a certain lifestyle. She says, “There is a reason why they move to a small remote northern community. I don’t want to see us lose the personality of our community. I don’t want to see us lose the reason why people live here.”
Looking ahead, Schembri would like to see Tumbler Ridge continue on its path. She says, “I would like to see us continue on with our development process that was laid out in the OCP. I would like to see us following that and continuing on a very smart road. If you go too fast and aren’t careful you can become this land of urban sprawl and I don’t want to see that happen in this community, which was built with a purpose in mind.”
She continues, “I love the people here, I love the environment, I love the possibilities of the Northeast and I am really thrilled that I have had the opportunity to serve in the past to be a part of the things that are developing here. I don’t think the Northeast gets all that is due to them because we have so much industry and so many things going on. We are an integral part of the province.”
Schembri thinks with the provincial election coming up, everything is a little uncertain, with our MLA retiring. She says, “There is a lot of uncertainties right now and I think it’s really important especially at this point in the process of our development that we have very strong local governments that are very focused because otherwise with all the instability in the province, it’s going to be detrimental to small communities.”
Schembri concludes, “There are four good candidates who are running and I think they all bring something unique to the table. I really hope people do vote, even though it’s only for one seat.”
Don McPherson:
McPherson has been a member of the Tumbler Ridge community from the very beginning stages. He has also spent two full terms and two half terms as a councillor for Tumbler Ridge.
He says, “The reason I didn’t run in the original election was because of work commitments. That has changed now and I am semi-retired so I have lots of time. I enjoyed it and I have felt I’ve been an important part of the councils I’ve been in.”
McPherson thinks the town is going in the right direction. He says, “Tumbler has always been like, you work here, you go to Grande Prairie or Dawson Creek to shop. I would like to see this as a place you can just stay. It doesn’t hurt to have competition and it could make both businesses busier because people always think if there’s one outlet, they’re getting gouged.”
McPherson has been a small business owner both here and in Dawson Creek and believes Tumbler Ridge could really benefit from more small businesses and more entertainment. He says, “I’d like to take my wife out for a show and a meal. If you’re going to Dawson for the show, you might as well have the meal there too. We need more things to do in town, more variety for shopping.”
He continues, “I live my life in the outdoors, and a lot of weekends we stay here, but I know the lifestyle in Tumbler Ridge is the same now as it used to be. The idea that you work here and then go shop somewhere else, I would like to see that change.”
McPherson would also like to see more communication between council and staff. He says, “I think council should have more communication with the department heads. We’re supposed to be the decision makers and they’re supposed to be the doers. Once a year we should sit down with staff and have a strategy meeting about where we want to go.”
McPherson feels he is a logical thinker who looks for the simplest most effective solutions. He says, “I think I’m the guy who represents the blue collar worker. Even though I’ve had my own businesses, I’ve always done the work, always known the guys who work at the mines and I like to think I bring common sense to the table. I like the simple way.”
Brenda Holmlund:
Holmlund is a Mining Technologist and a Geographical Information Systems Technologist (GIS) by trade. She says, “My background is mining, mapping and drafting. I’m a techie. There is a need for planning in the community. There are two issues that have to be addressed. One is planning and the other is money. I’m a numbers person too. I pay a fair bit of attention to budgets and numbers.” 
Holmlund ran for Mayor in the last election. She says, “The main reason I ran was because there needs to be a strong vision for where we want to go and when you have a vision you have to implement it and that comes down to planning. The community within the next five to ten years is going to be facing a lot of stress in the sense that we are going to be forced into putting subdivisions where we don’t want them. If we have it well mapped and planned, we will be in good shape.”
She continues, “We have one wind project in the next few years that is twice the size of the last one. What I’m saying is they invested; the investment in construction alone is in the billions of dollars. I think when you have communities there are always two issues besides money and land. There are two places you want to invest your money, in seniors and children. I couldn’t choose one over the other, but I think both are very important.”
Holmlund continues to talk about her thoughts on investing in seniors and children. She says, “When you spend on your children you invest in the future of the community. It is so worth it. I know there are problems with the daycare and the seniors want their own building. I don’t necessarily think it’s councils job to provide this, but we can do a heck of a lot to plan and use the resources we have to bring these things about. I know we could do a lot more.”
Crosbie Bourdeaux:
Crosbie Bourdeaux has an extensive history here in Tumbler Ridge. She says, “I’ve always had an interest in politics because I grew up around it, with my dad. He was a councillor in Dawson Creek and was a councillor and a Mayor here.” Bourdeaux has been in Tumbler Ridge since 1982. She says, “It’s like my town. I watched the whole thing grow up so I want to make sure it stays strong and viable. My parents always said where you live is your community and what you make of it is up to what you put into it. I want to make sure Tumbler Ridge is a thriving community for my son to grow up in.”
Bourdeaux thinks our community is changing so fast, but that it’s just the nature of the kind of community we live in. She says, “When we were thriving we had dentists, physiotherapy, counseling offices, assessment and referral offices, social services, child social services, we had all of those amenities. We definitely need to strive towards this again because our population is growing.”
Bourdeaux believes Tumbler Ridge needs to find a way to reach sustainability. She says, “We need a viable second life style because we are solely dependent on the coal. We need to look at ‘what if’? I know there was some talk about Tumbler Ridge being a beautiful place for a resort town and ski hills, which would be great.”
She continues, “Why not live in the beautiful wilderness and work in oil and gas? I know a lot of people go to Dawson to shop and people complain there is nothing to do in Tumbler Ridge. We did the same when we lived in Dawson. If we wanted to go shopping we’d go to Grande Prairie because there was nothing to do in Dawson Creek. So, I don’t think it matters where you live.”
Bourdeaux would love for Tumbler Ridge to remain a smaller town, however she realizes some commercial and residential development is needed. She says, “I would love for it to stay small, but small to me is really small because I was here before the houses. I think if we want Tumbler Ridge to stay alive and thriving we have to be open to more commercialized places and residential areas being built. We haven’t had to build bigger and wider and expand. Now that town hall is looking at doing development, some of these things are going to have to go, but I think we need to look at logical place to put things. We have literally plopped into the middle of the forest and I think it’s really important that we keep that because it’s definitely a characteristic of Tumbler Ridge that people like.”
Bourdeaux is now walking in the footsteps of her dad and says she operates on the same principals he taught her. She says, “I want people to know that I was built on the same principles as my dad; honesty, helping others, open listening and communication. I am there for the people; I am not there for me. I’m not going in with an agenda. Sometimes council has to make the hard decisions. People need to realize that may happen. Given all of the knowledge that goes into deciding where to put a project, the best decision has to be made.”