Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) Electoral Area C Director Russell Mack has announced his intention to run for a third term in October’s upcoming municipal election.
The former Pemberton fire chief, Mack said he wants to continue working closely with the Village of Pemberton to create more sports facilities in the Pemberton Valley, expand the regional trail network, and continue work on major infrastructure improvement projects in the rural properties surrounding the valley.
“When I first ran, the biggest thing was to start working cooperatively with the Village [of Pemberton], and we’ve done that. I get along well with Mayor [Mike] Richman. I mean, we have our challenges and disagree on some stuff, but we always come to a good conclusion,” Mack said.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of stuff that’s been on the books for years, like the Friendship Trail, but the big thing now is Den Duyf Park. I want to see a nice baseball diamond put in there. We’ve got the two soccer fields and the bike park now, so I want to see a nice baseball field put in there, and we’ll get that done.”
Mack, who was first elected in 2014, also wants to continue working with the federal and provincial governments to improve regional safety by addressing debris flows, landslide risks and fire safety issues.
“At Lillooet Lake Estates, there are issues with Catiline Creek debris flow. We’ve been working on that for years, and I’m hoping we’re getting to a point where we can start some work on that. We need federal and provincial funding to help out, but I think that is something we can accomplish,” Mack said.
“With the Reid Road issue, that’s another one that I’d like to see mitigated in a timely fashion because those poor folks are out of their homes, and that’s not a good scenario, no matter how you look at it.”
Late last year, an evacuation order was issued for several properties along Reid Road north of Pemberton, due to the imminent threat of landslide.
Mack would also like to see the Upper Meadows Fire Department get a proper funding source and establish a service area.
Regarding the hot topic of the day, affordable housing, Mack noted that it is a challenging issue that requires cooperation between all levels of government
“I find it is challenging when you talk about affordable housing. What may be affordable to one person is totally not affordable to somebody else. So, where do we draw that line? Who comes up with that figure, so to speak, and is it realistic?
“I think we must get federal and provincial support and work with developers to deal with the cost of land and infrastructure and all that stuff.”
During Mack’s time as director, the WedgeWoods community north of Whistler has been the subject of a few proposals —some of which are still under review—designed to tackle the housing crisis in the area.
This includes bylaw changes to allow more auxiliary dwelling units on a property and a potential expansion of the WedgeWoods development, with some lots earmarked for affordable housing.
“I know we talk about affordable housing at our board meetings fairly regularly because housing is just a challenge, even for the regional district, for us hiring employees,” Mack said.
Mack also wants to continue being an advocate for low taxation on the regional board.
“I think people are taxed now beyond belief. As far as I can see, it’s just so hard. It just seems that governments’ answer to everything is to raise the taxes. Well, at some point, people can’t afford to live,” he said. “The most important thing we have to do as so-called politicians is to make sure we keep that in mind, where the money comes from.”
Area C is the most populous of the SLRD’s four rural electoral areas, with 3,200 residents, stretching from WedgeWoods north of Whistler to the Pemberton Meadows and D’arcy on Anderson Lake.
Voters head to the polls on Oct. 15. Find more information at slrd.bc.ca/inside-slrd/spotlight/2022-general-local-elections.