Jen Ford's name will once again be on the ballot when Whistlerites head to the polls on Oct. 15.
After hearing—and feeling—the pandemic's impacts on families and longtime locals in this community, Ford is determined to continue to face the significant issues at the council table.
Ford’s top issue this election cycle is not just housing, but affordability in general in Whistler.
“We've seen a lot of housing built; there's a lot more to build, and supply is a huge concern," Ford said, adding that keeping other costs of living down in the resort and addressing affordability and cost-of-living concerns is "really important" to her.
“I've long been an advocate for childcare and access to health care ... when it's difficult to access health care, other things get more difficult, and your quality of life changes,” she said.
“That's where I've spent a lot of my time over the last couple of years, on social services."
Transit, housing and childcare are Ford's "three big points" when it comes to livability in Whistler, she added.
Ford was first elected to Whistler council in 2014, and was reelected in 2018.
During her time on council, she has served on many committees and boards, including the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA), Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board, where she served as chair.
“I've had an awesome experience being a part of [WCSS]. Certainly at the council's pleasure, and where they see my skills best used," Ford said.
"I've worked well with the board, and we've done some important work through the pandemic—moving the food bank to five days, lots of things that we were able to move quickly on when people needed it most.”
Ford was also elected First Vice President of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) executive last year, an advocacy lobby for all municipalities in the province.
She hopes to continue her board and committee work if re-elected this fall, and is in line to become the next UBCM president at the September conference slated for Whistler later this year.
Ford said she believes addressing the affordability question is key to fixing the growing labour shortage in the resort.
“We're facing a huge labour shortage. It's not unique to Whistler. Some would say it's worldwide," she said.
"Our whole town depends on having enough support to give the service that the people that come here expect in a world-class resort, so treating that very seriously [is important]—finding ways to house them and give the service that Whistler has become known for.”
Ford takes pride in some of council's key projects this term, including the new 10 Valley Express, the commuter transit route from Emerald to Cheakamus Crossing, and the build-out of Cheakamus Crossing Phase 2.
The Cheakamus Crossing expansion, and building more resident housing in general, was one of Ford’s key 2018 platform objectives. Since the 2018 vote, Whistler has built four new WHA rental buildings, with another 100 purchase units to be occupied by Winter 2023.
“If we want a vibrant community, we need to keep building housing,” said Ford. “And yet, we need to appreciate the impacts that come with new housing, and really dig deep to find creative ways to use all the available stock with more efficiency—and not just the units with employee-housing covenants."
Ford is confident that the community sees value in her re-election. But as always, she stresses the importance of ensuring the community’s voice is heard and strongly recommends qualified voters take the vital step of casting their ballot in October 2022.
“It is even more important than ever that there is a diversity of perspectives at the decision table, new voices as well as consistency of a few incumbents,” Ford said.
The nomination period runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9, with the official campaign period taking place between Sept. 17 and Oct. 15.
You can keep up with Ford’s campaign at jenford.ca.