Lance Pope grew up in the Oceanside area and, following the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, he fled back here with his wife in seek of refuge.
Now, Pope wants to give back to the community that welcomed him home by running as a candidate for a position as Director of Area G for the Regional District of Nanaimo.
A Canadian citizen, Pope moved from England to Parksville in 1974, when he was just 18 months old. Now, the French Creek resident wants the opportunity to represent the people whom he has called neighbour for so long.
“I’ve never run for political office before. However, I felt it was the right time to serve the community and voice local concerns.”
Those concerns, he said, include the need for affordable housing, the need for a 24-hour emergency clinic in Oceanside, the need to upgrade water service in the area and to protect the local environment.
Transit tops his list of concerns, with the need to make the system more user-friendly a key component to his campaign.
“I would like to see an online scheduler that includes ferry times and all points of destination in B.C. The current online version is not user-friendly. I would also like to see adequate protection at the bus stops, so if an elderly lady is waiting for a bus, she can be sitting in an area that is protected from the weather.”
Pope said the current regional growth strategy has the potential of increasing land values, which, in turn, could put further stress on longtime local residents, who are already feeling under financial pressure because of the cost of living here.
“I feel that people who were born and raised here are feeling priced out of the market,” he said. “I would like to review this. It needs a fresh perspective.”
Pope said he’s not content with the current plans for a community health centre and he wants something more comprehensive.
“People would like to see an emergency centre operating 24 hours a day,” he said. “In the long run, we need a hospital in Oceanside. It would create jobs and support local businesses.
“It’s a large undertaking to do this, but if we start with a 24-hour emergency centre, as the city grows and time progresses, it can grow as well. As it is, if someone who is elderly does have a problem, it’s a long way to go for emergency care.”
Pope said he agrees with much of what incumbent director Joe Stanhope has done, but stressed he brings fresh ideas and a new perspective to the area.
“I’m new to politics and don’t have the experience some directors have, but I have passion and a desire to learn and serve the community,” he said.
“I will do my best and work hard to keep the area’s interests my top priority, always.
“Change is inevitable but we must make sure these changes are for the better, for our lifetime and for generations to come.”