With the next set of municipal elections just around the corner, we in the Coast FM newsroom had a conversation with each of the upcoming mayoral candidates.
Today we profile Sechelt candidate, John Henderson. Henderson was mayor of Sechelt from 2011-2014. Each of Sechelt’s four candidates were asked the same 6 questions
Q1: On a personal level, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was mayor of Sechelt from 2011-14. I’m asking you to elect me once again. My background as a chartered accountant and an entrepreneur. I’ve got over 40 years of experience in getting things done, and I want to do that again for Sechelt.
I moved to Sechelt about 20 years ago. I chose Sechelt because the size of the community, the potential for the future of Sechelt, and my background as a businessman and an entrepreneur, I was able to in the early days in Sechelt to do my work from Sechelt – kind of an early adopter of remote working. In my spare time I drive an electric car. Have done for 12 years, as one of the first electric cars in BC. I’ve got a wide range of friends, we enjoy getting together for all kinds of things. But really, my focus has been on the community. I’m the past chair of the Sunshine Coast community forest. I’m the co-founder of the Sunshine Coast Electric Vehicle Association. I’m on the board of the Sunshine Coast Highway Society.
So I’ve really put a lot of my time into the community, because I love it and I want to see us make Sechelt even better.
Q2: What makes you qualified to be mayor?
First of all I was mayor in 2011-14. In those days it was only a three year term and in that time we got a great deal done. The biggest success and it’s still something that is working for Sechelt is the Sechelt Water Reserve Centre. We took what was an old plant, that created terrible odours across the village of Sechelt and in the space of essentially two years, we built a world class, nationally awarded wastewater treatment system that treats the waste to the highest standards, so that the water coming out of the process is essentially drinkable – although we more look at it as a resource for irrigation.
Between that and my experience in business – I’ve got a long history of creating businesses, developing projects, and getting things done. That’s what I want to do again in being mayor for the next four years.
Q3: What are you most proud of from your time in office?
It’s the Sechelt Water Reserve Centre project. What I’m proudest of is when we did it, it was something that needed to be done for Sechelt. It was an opportunity for us to embrace sustainability and innovation, so we set up a process that resulted in a project that delivered on all accounts. The new water resource centre treats the waste to the highest standards in Canada. It’s green, there’s no noise, no odour. People live literally across the street and it looks like a greenhouse. So the neighbours are happy, there’s no more odour in Sechelt, we can expand the plant and it’s something I’m very proud of because we got far more grant funding to build it than any other project in communities around BC that are trying to do the same and they’re spending hundreds and billions of dollars on a project that we were able to deliver for $25 million.
Q4: Do you have any regrets from your time in office?
I wish I’d had one more year – like [in mayoral terms] since then – because we could have gotten a lot more done and maybe it would have given me time to explain. When you’re working hard to get things completed, candidly, I think I could have made maybe explained things a bit better. I know that I was goal-oriented to succeed and so probably was a little bit aggressive and with four years I think I could do things with a little more balance and hopefully still succeed in delivering a lot of things.
Q5: What do you think is the biggest issue in this election?
We’re at risk – I hear – that we could run out of water in two weeks. So, nothing is more important than addressing this – not just for the next few weeks. I gather there is some very very expensive emergency processes that are hopefully going to be implemented because we simply cannot run out of water. But we need to put the plans in place and implement the plans so there are no shortages going forward. That is my commitment, I am going to deliver in the next two years, solutions so that we are never at stage three or stage four again.
Q6: Is there anything else you wanted to add?
We haven’t talked about housing. There are clever and creative ways, and solutions to that. They will involve support from the private sector, from the governments, and of course a strong will to get them done. Communities in general have to accept that there need to be changes. We need people in Sechelt. We’re an older population and we need people, frankly younger people, to provide the services that we’re very short of these days. So to attract those people, we have to have housing for them and it has to be housing that’s attractive. It’s a continuum: we need water, so that we can then build housing, so that we can attract people to provide the services and a balanced, dynamic, and vibrant community.