Mayoral candidate CaroleAnn Leishman has indicated that her reason for getting involved in running for local government initially was driven by her climate and environmental activism.
“I felt like that was not really being addressed in a serious manner by governments in general,” said Leishman. “Having stepped up in an activist role on some of the issues around the environment propelled me a bit into the spotlight for people to encourage me to run for council the first time eight years ago.”
Leishman said her mother Myrna had served on city council for about 12 years and encouraged her that having a voice at the table is how change is effected.
Leishman said in her day job, she works in the construction industry, and she’s been a built green builder since 2006, so she understands the development and housing industries, and wanted to help drive good policy on how to increase density in the community in a responsible manner, and start building toward net zero, affordably.
Housing affordability is a concern of Leishman’s. She said she works for a developer who has built all different types of housing and she has designed all kinds of housing. She said it was difficult for her to purchase her first house, so right away she understood there needs to be better models.
Leishman said at one of the first Union of British Columbia Municipalities conferences she attended, there was a session by the Whistler Housing Authority on how it provides below-market rentals and lower cost ownership models of housing. She believes the municipality has to try to do that.
“It’s not in the typical jurisdiction of a local government, however, so for years it’s been a lack of capacity and a lack of a position to take that on, but we need to head in that direction.”
Leishman has driven the city’s climate action mitigation and adaptation committee as its chair, which has helped secure, through the city’s sustainability planner, about $5.3 million in grants. The committee’s term has wound down, but Leishman said if she is elected mayor, she will reinstate it.
“I felt that by having a full-time sustainability planner, by being ready for grant opportunities when they come up, and then to apply for those grants, it would pay for itself,” she added. “I had no idea how much it would pay. I’m grateful that our advocacy as local government has pushed the province to be more onboard with climate action, and to start to provide those grant opportunities.”
Leishman said the local government touches on all community issues, whether they are in the city’s jurisdiction or not. She said the mill shutdown has been a massive fear for residents.
“It is a frightening time for a lot of people but there is an opportunity at the same time for regional partnerships and partnerships with the Indigenous community, Tla’amin Nation, in looking at what we do on that land,” said Leishman. “There is an opportunity for potentially setting up a community energy trust for trying to put benefits back into our community from energy sales generated at that site.
“I’ve been reaching out to sustainably responsible corporations in Canada and the US with different sustainable business models. Another thing we could look at is a film production studio. The mill site is a huge parcel and there are lease opportunities.”
She added that whoever takes over that property needs to pay their full taxes.
Leishman said one of the big issues going forward is whether or not to change the name of the city.
“We have a real opportunity, working closely with Tla’amin Nation, on how to move forward in a better way,” said Leishman. “I do support the 11 recommendations from the joint working group and I would like to see a broader community conversation on some opportunities for changing the name.
“Trying to have this conversation with no name suggested is really difficult for people and I would like to, right away, initiate a fun contest, because people have ideas of what a potential new name could be. I think this is an incredible opportunity.”
Leishman said she has stood firm in following her principles during her eight years in office and will continue to stand firm as mayor, if elected. She faces fellow outgoing city councillor Maggie Hathaway, who will be featured in an upcoming article, and Ron Woznow, who’s campaign kickoff was covered by the Peak in May.
Read all Peak election coverage at prpeak.com/2022-civic-election.