It’s About the People

When this goes to print, I will have been Mayor of Fernie for a year. That feels amazing to me, both that the time has gone so fast and that it’s only been a year. 

In my role I have recently visited classrooms and spoken to children and young adults of various ages. I love these visits because, while I have some prepared prompts, I almost never use them. The students have usually readied a bunch of questions that generate a great discussion, and it occupies most of the visit. 

The one question I think every group has asked is: Do you like being Mayor. Answer: Yes. The less obvious answer is the follow-up: Why? Answer: People. 

I think most jobs, this one included, are about people. If you think about your entire employment history, likely each job you enjoyed was characterized by the people you worked for and the people you worked with. This job is no different. The nuts and bolts of municipal government are really not that complex. Believe me, I don’t mean to understate the complexity of the decisions staff are forced to make with limited budgets framed in the byzantine legislation that governs the operation of a municipality. However, the key component of this job is relationship management, whether working for the people of Fernie, working with provincial or federal partners, working with our staff, or my fellow councillors. It is critically important to understand that nothing gets done without relationships.

It is equally important to approach this job without too much ego. This can be a challenge as it’s easy to get defensive and it can be hard to accept that it’s okay not to have all the answers. It’s crucial to maintain an open mind and allow other’s opinions, perspectives, and observations to inform your views. There is no perfect information, so the perfect solution is always in question. You must learn to appreciate that if your position is an impervious shell the closest-to-perfect solution may never enter. It’s like Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

And gratefully, we have had some successes. Amongst others, we have secured $19 Million in funding from the provincial and federal governments for 100 new childcare spaces coupled with 27 units of affordable housing prioritized for early childhood educators. This has the potential to change the face of our childcare and labour shortages. Like you, I won’t breathe out until we cut the ribbon, but I look forward to exhaling when we stand beside our partners and pronounce it open. It happened through relationships, and I am very grateful for all the behind-the-scenes work that has gone into this project. 

Thank you to all the people who continue to show an interest in the operation of the City of Fernie. Whether it’s just your item of interest or the whole thing, I appreciate every conversation. Thank you to all the teachers and students in this town. In so many ways these visits validate asking myself the question if a decision is in the best interest of the community. These visits and your questions and suggestions inspire me, and you inspire hope for the future of our city. 

Photo by Vince Mo