Johnstone new chair of SLRD Whistler councillor Thelma Johnstone was elected chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Monday, signalling a new direction for the SLRD. "It’s time for change, and I think change has begun," Johnstone says. The changes begin with Johnstone and administrator Ivan Knowles, who has announced his resignation. Johnstone will be heading a committee looking for a new administrator. She adds the position will be re-defined and that in itself should lead to considerable change. Johnstone also wants a total review of policy over the next year and hopes to introduce some strategic planning, including long-term budgeting. "I think the new administrator will be crucial (to changes within the SLRD)," Johnstone says. Johnstone, who has represented Whistler on the SLRD since 1990, takes over from long-time SLRD chairman Dan Cumming, who was nominated for the position but declined. Cumming nominated Johnstone, the first woman and the first municipal representative to be elected chair of the SLRD. One of the immediate issues facing the SLRD is to establish and implement a solid waste management plan to the satisfaction of the provincial government. The province had set Dec. 31 as the date when approved plans to reduce solid waste were to be in place, but hardly any regional districts in the province appear likely to meet that timetable. Extensions are expected. However, the SLRD has begun negotiations with Carney’s Waste Systems and an American company on a plan to haul solid waste to a site in Washington state. The plan would see the phasing out and eventual closure of landfills in Whistler and Squamish. SLRD representatives indicated two months ago they favoured the Carney’s proposal. The Carney’s contract is only one part of the provincially-mandated plan to reduce solid waste. Other components include a composting system and commercial and residential recycling programs. The SLRD is a diverse political body, both in the region it covers — from Furry Creek in the south to Bralorne in the north and Lillooet to the east — and in representation. It is the only form of local government for people in rural areas, like Britannia, Bralorne and Gold Bridge, while people in Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Lillooet are represented by both the SLRD and their own municipal councils.

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