Meet the candidates for Councillor: Laurie Hopfl

Laurie Hopfl has lived in Lillooet for approximately 35 years and is site leader for patient registration and health records at Lillooet District Hospital and Sumac Suites. She is seeking her second term on District of Lillooet Council.

What were the big surprises during her first term:

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I thought it would take a decade to turn the finances around. I thought it took a decade to get where we were and it would take another decade to pull us out. I was surprised that, even though we did make some serious cuts, it brought us to where we are financially, with the stability we have. I was surprised we did it within that time frame.

I didn’t realize how many volunteers were out there. I was very surprised about that; Lillooet wouldn’t be Lillooet without our volunteers. Every time I stepped through a door, it was amazing to see all these faces that I didn’t know were behind the scenes. It was overwhelming.

Achievements in the first term:

I think the biggest thing was going to UBCM that first year, sitting in the audience and listening to speakers talk about what not to do with finances, using Lillooet as an example. I was shocked. I was sitting there with the mayor and we were both looking at each other. I talked to Gordon Ruth after that; he’s the Auditor General for Local Government and he said they are in bad shape, that he’d never seen finances like this. It is what not to do. He said we had a long way to go.

The next year, after our finances were done, I e-mailed him and said, “Take a look at our finances.” I talked to him again at UBCM and the third year after our finances were done, I again emailed him. I told him the changes we made, he said our finances were looking really good and he forwarded that on to UBCM and then it snowballed. I was asked to speak at the Small Town Forum and that was great. I was so proud of that moment, to get up there and be able to say what we’d done. Barb (Wiebe) came up with me. That was my proudest moment, sharing with other communities and putting Lillooet in a positive light. When was the last time you heard something bad or derogatory about Lillooet in the media? It’s been pretty positive.

Any disappointments?

I don’t know that I had too many disappointments but what I found challenging at times were perceptions. I was disappointed in the time it took to have closure for the Conwayville flood victims and the fact we could not discuss it openly. But litigation confidentiality is something we were bound to and while it was sometimes perceived that we didn’t care, nothing could be further from the truth. We worked hard behind the scenes.

It’s often perceived that we know what’s on the meeting agendas. The fact is we don’t know what’s on the agenda until we’re presented it along with the community. It’s laid out and council’s chance to assess it or make changes and do what’s important is then – but perception is everything; sometimes perception is not always right.

I really like it when somebody would call me and say, “Hey this is on the agenda, this affects me in this way.” And it’s a new perspective. As council we look at the community as a whole and what works best for the community, but we don’t realize the effect it has on one or two individuals.

Future challenges and opportunities:

I think the biggest challenges coming our way are the water meters. How do we want our town to look? Will residents dry landscape, will some stop watering, will we pay higher rates and just keep everything green? Probably all of the above. I’m concerned if residents with larger properties stop watering, what will that do to the fire hazard?

I don’t think people really care what pod their money is going into. What we care about as taxpayers is how much is collectively going out to the District from our households. “How much am I paying for water, sewer, garbage and taxes?

We have to make this town affordable for all because a lot of people are on fixed incomes – seniors, young families, single parents. How can we make it affordable? I think that’s the biggest challenge facing us.

People should vote for me because…

I now have four years of experience and knowledge and that will continue to grow so that I may represent our community in the best possible way. I study the agendas to the best of my ability and am well-prepared for council meetings. I believe my strongest attribute is finances. Most decisions on council are based on the budget and in my opinion mayor and council should have a basic understanding of finances. We need to keep Lillooet an affordable place to live and that will require diligence.

 

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