While Ladysmith’s newest council and mayor were sworn in at the inaugural meeting yesterday evening, former councillor Scott Bastian was sound asleep in his new home in Westminster, England.
The two-term councillor and Ladysmith native is pursuing a brand new opportunity which had him leave his seat at council three weeks before the end of his term.
“I was searching for a new adventure,” he said. “I had the ability to apply for an ancestry visa for the United Kingdom, as my grandmother was born there. I started collecting visa documents in September, submitted in October, received the approved visa soon after, bought a cheap one-way flight for November, and here I am. My boyfriend had also applied for his visa, and we left within a week of each other.”
Bastian said he would have enjoyed carrying on with another term, but the appeal of a new beginning prompted his decision not to run in the Nov. 19 election.
Bastian is a fourth-generation Ladysmith resident whose great grandfather was an alderman with the town years ago. He was first elected in 2005, after submitting the nomination papers two hours before the deadline.
“I started attending council meetings shortly before running and the then-council and mayor, I suspect, used to wonder why I was there,” Bastian recalled. “I attended for information purposes and was curious what the meetings were about. Then, meetings generally made no sense.”
Bastian said he vividly remembers his first term as a councillor at the age of 24.
“I was fresh into local government, naive as can come, and a cohort to much older and wiser council members,” he said. “I struggled to keep up in my first term, not understanding all the ‘poli-talk’ and at the same time balance school, work and a personal life.”
During his second term, which came in 2008, Bastian said he felt he was able to contribute to discussions and provide a unique perspective not otherwise included around the council table.
“I may not have been a big ‘mover and shaker’ within the council. I had a more subtle nudge, and a lot of work and research took place outside of meetings. This does not mean I did not accomplish anything. I worked closely and built great relationships with my committee members and tried to bring them into council perspective.”
He is most proud of the development of Lot 108 into Forrest Field and the relocation of the Ivy Green Mobile Park residents.
“I remember writing a passionate letter to the mayor about 14 years ago regarding the lack of development of Lot 108 at that time,” Bastian said. “In 2006, we signed a formal accord with the Stz’uminus First Nations which marked a formal working relationship between the two governments. I was so proud to be part of that process.”
Bastian’s advice to new councillors includes reading as much as possible and connecting with constituents.
“Local government/politics is not the most creative or interesting topic, so find ways to engage the population rather than find ways to defend the process,” he said.
Bastian said he plans to return to Ladysmith at some point , although his visa allows him to apply for permanent residency in the U.K. after five years.
“Ladysmith will always be home,” he said. “I will be back to visit, of course, I just don’t know when that will be!”