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Island Trust Conservancy's chair to run for SCRD Area F seat

Gambier Island resident Kate Stamford served as an alternate area F director from 2014 to 2018. Since 2018, she has been on the area’s advisory planning commission and plans to run for the West Howe Sound and the Islands director's seat in the Oct. 15 election. She also plans to run for a fourth term on the Islands Trust Council.
Kate Stamford is running for an SCRD board seat.

A name that may be familiar to Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board watchers, Kate Stamford, has announced plans to run for the Area F (West Howe Sound and the Islands) directors’ seat in the Oct. 15 local government elections. 

Stamford made her intentions known after incumbent Mark Hiltz said he would not be seeking a second term.

A Gambier Island resident, Stamford served as an alternate director for the area in the 2014-18 board term. Since 2018, she has been a member of the area’s advisory planning commission.

Islands Trust experience

Stamford's experience as an elected official also includes three terms as an Islands Trust trustee for the Gambier/Keats Local Trust Area. She is the current chair of the Islands Trust Conservancy and a member of the finance, regional planning and governance committees of the Islands Trust.

“I am running because I have more to offer our Sunshine Coast communities than what can be accomplished in my role as Islands Trustee," Stamford Told Coast Reporter on Aug. 5. "Land planning and advocacy are part of the equation but service delivery is where people really look to their local government on a daily basis. To provide appropriate services across the region in a fair and economically sound manner is a huge responsibility, especially during these uncertain times."

“I feel I have the experience and where-with-all to help make those complex decisions, not just as part of the regional district board, but as an active and engaged community member. It is an exciting yet realistically daunting opportunity to be considered as a candidate.”

Two elections

Stamford says she will be running in both elections – both for Islands Trust council and the SCRD board – saying that the roles are complementary. "A lot of the work does overlap in terms of supporting the community, helping neighbours work out difficulties," said Stamford. "The big difference is that the regional district provides services."

There is precedent for Islands Trustees serving multiple elected roles – Stamford points to a trustee who was the Lasqueti Island Local Trust Area trustee and was on the area's regional district board (then called Powell River, now called qathet). The trustees for Bowen Island also serve dual roles as trustees and municipal councillors. 

"The potential for any possibility of conflict is quite minor," said Stamford, "especially in this area because the islands here are very rural." The example of conflict Stamford gives is if there were amenity dedications being negotiated in a subdivision, where the interests of the Islands Trust and the SCRD may not align, she would step back from one role or the other. In her 11 years on Islands Trust Council, Stamford says she's seen only one subdivision amenity negotiation. 

Should she be elected to both roles, Stamford says she would step back from her other Islands Trust roles (the conservancy and other governance committees). 

Speaking to why she's looking for a fourth term on the Islands Trust while also pursuing the SCRD board, Stamford points to maintaining continuity with ongoing trust projects on Gambier and Keats: The Keats foreshore development work and the Gambier Official Community Plan targeted review. Dan Rogers, the other trustee for the local trust area, has said he's not planning on running in the next election. 

SCRD board priorities

Speaking about areas for SCRD board focus in the coming term, Stamford said she wanted to hear from community members about what their concerns are, stressing the importance of communication, and the need for directors to listen and understand the needs of their communities.

One of Stamford's personal goals is to build stronger relationships with the Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere Region and the Squamish Nation. She also wants to see SCRD board emphasis on a regional water strategy. She said that solid waste needs to be addressed in “a more detailed and focused way," and that housing is an “ongoing challenge where we need to look to all levels of government."  Another area she believes needs additional attention is emergency services: “How they relate to the extreme weather conditions and how we can respond better,” as well as infrastructure specifically around the docks, and how to maintain those into the future.

When asked about her plans to balance her personal life and role as a director if elected, Stamford said, “I am used to working within that realm. You can’t predict what will happen, you just have to acknowledge the process. It is a huge commitment but I enjoy the work.” 

While her home has been on Gambier for 20 years, she noted that she has family in Gibsons; making work with the board easier, in her view, as her schedule is not limited by the ferry between the Coast and the island.

Stamford plans to take advantage of the candidate information sessions the SCRD will be hosting on Aug. 10.

“Absolutely, it’s important to be clear on what the options are…I am always looking for opportunities for education.”

She encouraged others interested in running for board seats to attend the session. On its website, the SCRD states a recorded version of the session will be made available to individuals who cannot attend in person. It can be requested by contacting [email protected].   

Coast Reporter also encourages candidates for the upcoming local government elections to reach out to [email protected].  Efforts will be made to keep the community informed on those who are considering letting their names stand as elected representatives for our communities.