BC local elections: Ladysmith town council candidate Marsh Stevens

Current occupation: President of Ladysmith Resources Centre Association, Stay-at-Home Parent/Homeschool Teacher to my Son

Background:

Education

I hold an Honours Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) from Trent University.

I hold a Master of Arts (Philosophy) from the University of Guelph.

I completed a Certificate in Community Based Development through St. Francis Xavier University. This was completed when I was working in the area of health services planning and community development.

I earned a Diploma in Computer Assisted Drafting and Design from the International Academy of Design and Technology, Toronto. Designing and building things is a lifelong passion and this training formalized and enhanced this.

I hold a Black Belt in Shaolin-Kempo Kung Fu. This tested me physically, but far more mentally. I learned calmness in the face of adversity, and perseverance when the odds are against me. Plus I get to throw punches — in a controlled environment of course.

I was trained by my father, a Cabinetmaker, and have transferred those skills into numerous areas from Art, to designing and building furniture to the construction of our family home.

Current Work Experience

I am currently the President of the Board of Directors of the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association www.lrca.ca, the largest Social Service Organization in Ladysmith. I am in my 4th year serving on the Board of Directors. My 1st year I was appointed Board Secretary, and I am in my 3rd year as President. In this volunteer position, I have spent 15 to 30+ hours per week leading governance, fundraising and public relations efforts. When I became President, the LRCA had an unimplemented plan for its governance, was facing an operational deficit approaching 6 to 7% of its total budget, and had a public relations deficit that was even more imposing than the financial one. Today, the deficit has been eliminated, the LRCA has a new proactive Mission, Vision, and Values, clear policies on Conflict of Interest, Non-disclosure, Media Relations, a Volunteer Code of Conduct, a strategic work-plan, and is well on its way to owning/operating, millions of dollars in affordable housing. Obviously, I did not do this all by myself – I did it by working with the passionate Staff, a visionary Board, Committees that have put in thousands of hours of work, all 3 levels of government, and the 300 Volunteers that make possible the dozen+ community-based programs of the LRCA.

Previous Work Experience

In my first year living on Vancouver Island I was a Tobacco Enforcement Officer for Island Health, appointed by the Provincial Cabinet. I was responsible for the approximately 400 tobacco retailers in the area from the Malahat to Qualicum Beach to Port Alberni ensuring their compliance with the Tobacco Control Act.

I worked as a Policy Analyst for the Aboriginal Affairs Branch of Canadian Heritage in Ottawa for just under a year. I was part of a 12-person project team assembled to do cross Canada consultations with Aboriginal, Inuit and Metis communities on how to preserve and revitalize cultural/traditional knowledge. http://lfs-indigenous.sites.olt.ubc.ca/…/Canadian20Heritage…

For close to four years (2FT-2PT) I was an Exhibition Preparator at the Design Exchange http://www.dx.org/. I collaborated with curators, artists, architects, and designers to design, install and light exhibitions.

For just under 3 years served I served as Attaché to the Editor/CEO of www.nowtoronto.com. I managed all of this Executive’s personal finances, property, bank accounts, lines of credit and investments; designed and project managed property renovations; sourced materials and contractors, and negotiated service contracts.

For a year and a half I was the Sculpture Facilitator at The Banff Centre www.banffcentre.ca . I oversaw the Centre’s 5,000 square foot sculpture studio.

For over 4 Years I worked as a Health Planner in the Ontario District Health Council system (now known as Local Health Integration Networks). The planning that DHC/LHINs perform is used by the Ministry of Health to develop policy on everything from the number of hospital beds an area needs, to how funding should be allocated to local community kitchens.

I worked as a Tutorial Leader at The University of Guelph www.guelphu.ca in the Department of Philosophy – as a Tutorial Leader at Trent University www.trent.ca in the Department of Cultural Studies – and as a Marker at the Ontario College of Art and Design in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Science www.ocad.ca.

Personal

I live in Old Town with the love of my life Yvanne and our three (usually) awesome children ages 10, 13 and 15 – in the house that I built for us. Yvanne grew up in the Cowichan Valley and I grew up in a little place called Waupoos in southern Ontario. I met Yvanne while she was at university in Ontario and I always joke that her first words to me were: “My name is Yvanne and I want to move back to Vancouver Island.” That was 23 years ago. After a lot of moving around for school, jobs, training etc., we finally made that happen. We have lived in Ladysmith for going on 11 years. Yvanne is Head Registered Midwife at NRGH. I am the stay-at-home parent of our kids and Board President of the Ladysmith Resources Centre. Also, this the 8th year that I have homeschooled our oldest due to his learning difficulties.

I have lead, and continue to lead, a charmed life packed with a lot of treasured experiences, opportunities and luck. I am the youngest of three children to a Black-Canadian/Swede perfectionist and a fiery Anglo-Saxon. I like to think of myself as a nice balance between the two. I have always enjoyed working with my hands as much as with my head – hence my philosophy degrees and vast design/artistic/technical experience.

I rowed and coached for the Trent University and Peterborough Rowing Clubs and am a former Canadian National Champion. In addition to excursions to Ecuador, England, and Spain, I have traveled extensively in Canada, the United States and Mexico — through nine provinces, over 40 US states, and from Mexico City to the Pacific Coast.

I have hiked the West Coast Trail, kayaked on the Pacific, toured Elvis’s home in Memphis, driven through the Sierra Madre Occidental at sunrise, fly-fished in Maine, stood on top of Rocky Mountain peaks, rocketed across the Prairies in an ’81 Lincoln Continental, climbed Aztec pyramids, and danced in the New Year on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. I spent four months in Ecuador, where I studied Spanish, got typhoid fever, floated down jungle rivers and climbed several mountains including ‘EL Chimborazo’ which (at 21,000 feet) because of the equatorial bulge is the closest point on earth to the sun. I am enamoured with bicycles and am perpetually restoring, building, tinkering with, and riding them.

I was probably 9 or 10 when my Dad took me to my first municipal council meeting. The political nut does not fall far from the tree. To say that I am passionate about politics on all levels is a huge understatement. However, I have always known that municipal politics has the greatest effect on our day-to-day lives.

Why are you running for town council ?

Combine the great life I lead with a passion for politics and you get my strong desire to give back, to serve my community. I have governance, analytical and critical thinking skills that I would bring to the table. I have a mentally tough, sensible personality. I am a progressive pragmatist — I want the social, economic and physical environments in Ladysmith to be the absolute best that they can be. To get there my approach will always be to ask: ‘What makes the most sense?’ and ‘What gets the absolute best result?’ I am not the type of person to sit around complaining about a problem; I look at the evidence, data, and best practices and get down to the business of solving the problem.

I certainly have opinions, but if elected, I will never lose sight of the fact that it is my job to listen to the community and work with my colleagues on Council to rise to challenges, embrace opportunities, and turn ideas into reality.

What are your priorities and how will you tackle them if elected ?

An enhance water supply, sized to a maximum planned population.

An Official Community Plan (OCP) that makes it easier to create appropriate, affordable housing for current and future residents.

The 2018 Economic Strategy enacted.

The Waterfront.

Building on the successes of partnerships with Stz’uminus First Nation.

Roads and Infrastructure.

Council’s greatest asset is the collective wisdom of the 7 people around the table. Nobody can think that they are the smartest person in the room if Council is going to function efficiently. I will put forward my priorities and the reasons that I feel they are important. Then, I will listen to my colleague’s priorities and look for common ground and compromises that will move things ahead. I am passionate about my priorities, but reasonable in my expectations. There is so much work to do. I want to get as much done as possible, on as many fronts as possible. So, if that means accepting a reality that I had not taken into account, or compromising, or changing my priorities, so be it. We are public servants – we are supposed to achieve results not win every argument.

What is the best path forward for growth on the waterfront?

To get on with executing it, in a very open and transparent manner.

The most contentious part of the Waterfront Plan is the 4 to 6 story residential development on the plot of land known as the ‘Jewel’. There is no doubt that this element of the plan is a compromise. However, if the provincial and federal governments are going to invest in the Plan, they are going to insist on a well-developed plan (in hand), partnerships (well established) AND a significant contribution from the Community. There is no question in my mind that the environmental, economic and social benefits of the whole plan outweigh the compromise that has to be made regarding this part of plan. A contained and capped Slack Point will provide pleasant oceanside parkland for residents and visitors, and will stop the choking off of the harbour by slack. The denser types of housing in the plan are less environmentally intensive than detached housing built on the edges of Town. Construction will contribute to the local economy, as will the live/work and service industries that will be built. More importantly, a concentrated population within walking distance of downtown will ensure that the recent revival of 1st Avenue and its side streets is sustained in times of economic downturn and fluctuations in tourism. The Arts and Heritage District and Cultural Centre will teach and celebrate Ladysmith’s heritage and the thousands of years of Stz’uminus history on this land and water.

As excited as I am by the possibilities, I would also want to proceed prudently. The process by which the plan are executed is crucial to its success. In terms of the Jewel, I would want to see its sale be arranged, but not completed until senior levels of government have been approached with details of the deal – start the process of leveraging more funds as early as possible and receiving as much commitment as possible. I would want to see the Town’s Advisory Planning Committee and Advisory Design Panel heavily involved in examining the proposed buildings. I would also want to 2 or more open houses held where the public can view/comment on designs and site plans. Then I would like to see similar rigorous processes repeated for each and every phase of the Plan – tapping into the wisdom of community will make the Waterfront the best it can be.

There are a lot of ways that the residential elements of the Waterfront plan can be integrated into existing parts of the Waterfront. For instance, Council has already imposed a 10 metre buffer zone along the Jewel’s property line where it borders the park. This zone will preserve the existing treeline. There needs to be a concrete plan for accommodating live-aboard residents of the water lot(s). They are residents of Ladysmith. The public also have to see the next level of planning (beyond the concepts presented in the Plan) of elements like parking, traffic calming, and the network of pathways that will keep public spaces public by winding in and around the residential development.

There is a lot of work to do, and I excited to play my part.

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