Meet the candidates for Mayor: Marg Lampman

Marg Lampman has lived in Lillooet for 40 years. She worked for 18 years for Evans Products/Ainsworth Lumber, at the RCMP detachment and with McGaw Empress Real Estate and Insurance. She has served four terms as a councillor and one term as mayor.

On ongoing concerns regarding the water treatment plant:

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I was not on council when the decision was made to go with the plant. When I came back on council during a by-election, the decision was already made and whether I agreed or disagreed, it wouldn’t make a difference because it was done. Some things could have been done better but the circumstances at the time and what was transpiring in the public with a certain group put demands on council and administration that altered some of the things they wanted to do because the money was diverted to defend legal actions, secure the site and fight an environmental assessment appeal. Plus there was a value engineering study that cost $100,000.

In my opinion, this cost about $500,000 in order to argue that decision.

The provincial government is local government’s regulatory authority and whenever a local government is doing a project such as a water treatment plant, you must get permits and it must be approved by the provincial government. And the provincial government gave us that permit and they will tell you today they stand behind their permit. And so Lillooet’s decision to put the plant there (Cayoosyh Creek campground) was the decision of the council of the day with all of the facts they had in front of them at the time. Yes, things could have been done differently but to continue to argue and fight that decision when it is providing us with good, safe, reliable water…

It’s a selling point for the community, we know it’s efficient in the production that it does; it may not be efficient in the cost ot pumping water it but that has been compounded by the fact that BC Hydro increased their rates, union contracts have gone up, the cost of some chemicals has gone up. Those things are out of our control

This community has not gone into a conservation program for water. For anyone today who does not believe that we need a conservation program and that we need to conserve that precious source, you’re living in another world. It’s careless and reckless. When you have a water conservation program, your costs for pumping, Hydro and chemicals go down. Everything goes down. I appreciate and respect everyone’s comment that we live in a very arid part of the country but so does Osoyoos and Osoyoos does not use nearly the amount of water that we do.

Achievements over the past four years:

I think bringing Lillooet’s finances in order and putting together a staff who are doing a super job and serving the people of Lillooet. Also highlighting Lillooet as a place to live and do business in, and boosting up our reputation with the larger population because our reputation tanked over the water treatment plant and a certain personnel situation. That perception was tough to overcome. It’s taken a lot of hard work to change that by showing that we have our act together and continue to improve.

Getting the idea of the passenger service brought back to life – it’s been extremely rewarding to hear from people across the province and politicians across the province that we need a passenger rail service. Finally connecting with VIA Rail and having them agree to work in partnership with the province, that was abig accomplishment. Now it’s up to the premier.

Any disappointments in the past four years:

I was hoping to get more planning done because we have been lacking in our planning. There are areas where we need to plan if we’re going to free up land for residential development and some industrial development. We didn’t get there. It’s something I like to do because I think when a council can lay out how you reach a certain point to the community, let the community think about it, ask their questions, get their answers, if the community’s in agreement with it, then the road is paved for you. That’s what planning is about - looking what Lillooet is going to look like in 10 or 15 years and all councils should be looking that far down the road and asking what do we have to put in place that’s going to make Lillooet successful?

On being at odds at times with the four councillors:

 I think it’s part of the process. All councils have growing pains and every council has different ideas, different viewpoints and it’s always good to have a debate at council but you’re still able to talk after the council meeting. I guess it’s a misunderstanding of quite a few people who think the mayor should not have any opinions once you become mayor and that everything you ran on should be discarded. That is not true. Whenever council makes a decision, yes, the mayor must voice that decision as being a decision of council. But if the mayor disagrees with that decision, the mayor has every right and should be voicing that to the public.

Future priorities:

I have four of them.

1. Seniors housing and low and middle income housing. I first brought this to council’s attention in 2006 and that’s how McLean Manor came about because of my initiative to speak with Minister of Housing Rich Coleman. We were able to get the housing from the modular units from the Olympics in Whistler, The senior levels of government have put in place programs and funding that encourage partnerships with local government, private investors, non-profits and First Nations. The money is there. And now is our time to do it.

2. Broadband fibre optics. People ages 25 to 45 don’t want to work in concrete block buildings. They are looking for a lifestyle compatible with their work and they either want to work at home or work in a faciity that’s a business hub and once they’re done they take their laptop and they go home to enjoy their lifestyle. And this is how we can attract those 25 to 45 year-olds by having the best fibre optic broadband because it’s a selling point. It brings in families and it brings in entrepreneurs. Revelstoke, Salmon Arm and Canal Flats are all examples of this.

3. A community forest in partnership with Area A and B. There are 51 community forests around the province and the reports I get back from the communities are that these are wonderful because of the dividends that flow back to the communities. These are partnerships with private industry or with First Nations bands or with regional districts. It’s a way to raise revenues outside property taxes. All the First Nations around Lillooet have community forests. It’s a way for the residents of Lillooet and A and B to have revenue that would come back to them at the end of the year and be divided among the three partners to be used as they see fit. It could help the REC Center, our parks, our trails, our municipal campground.

4. Passenger rail service.

People should vote for me because…Experience pays dividends when the mayor doesn’t have to be trained again. Vote for me because I want this community to keep going, to succeed and to keep the confidence and the enthusiasm that I see out there every day from the businesses and the residents. We now have a good reputation, we are being viewed all over BC as a place where people want to come and investigate and put down roots. If we can tackle the housing for our current residents to keep them here in Lillooet, we will maintain that small town charm and character that everyone is looking for. It can be done through proper planning, it can be done by collaborating with our partners and with our First Nations neighbours and it can be done to make the whole area successful. I’ve proven that I can build partnerships, that I can bring things to Lillooet like McLean Manor and that I can work with senior levels of government.

This election is a turning point for Lillooet. And it’s going to be a decision for the voters whether we go forward. We need to increase our population but we can do it responsibly. We need to attract certain age group sand we can do that by taking certain steps. We need to attract businesses and that will come naturally as we increase our population. But we can’t do that if we have to spend council time and staff time debating old issues that are long since gone. We can’t do that if we are continually forced back into the past. To cite an old proverb, it’s water under the bridge.

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