Although Squamish’s new mayor has called herself an “accidental politician,” there’s no mistaking her commitment to the success of the community. A former journalist who covered municipal politics for The Squamish Chief in the ’90s, Heintzman served three terms on Squamish council and was also chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) before wresting the top seat away from incumbent Rob Kirkham in 2014 by just under 300 votes. Heintzman will be a newsmaker in 2015 as she leads both council and the community on hot-button issues like Woodfibre LNG, the development of the Nexen Lands and how to attract more diverse types of business to Squamish.
“We want that really creative side of the community to really get out to think about these things and get excited... and then set up the systems to be the best town in B.C. to do business with,” she said. “After being underestimated for far too long, Squamish’s time is now.”
The proposed Woodfibre liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant was on the pages of The Squamish Chief a lot during 2014, and we expect the coming year to be no different. Whether it’s anti-LNG protests, new facts about the industry, or insights into how Woodfibre LNG will affect our community, we’ll likely be hearing a lot more about LNG in 2015. Woodfibre LNG vice-president Byng Giraud has been the spokesman for the proposed development so far, so expect to see his name throughout our coverage, as we probe the issue and watch the public determine if the industry is a good fit for Squamish. Giraud joined Woodfibre Natural Gas Limited (part of the Pacific Oil & Gas group) in April 2013 as the company’s first North American employee, and he has served as a vice-president with both the Association for Mineral Exploration BC and the Mining Association of BC. Prior to that, Giraud served as a senior consultant with top Canadian public affairs agencies.
Jason Blackman-Wulff is definitely a major player to watch in the coming year, after seemingly coming out of nowhere to storm municipal politics and earn a council seat in the November 2014 election, thanks to overwhelming support from the community. He earned the second highest number of votes overall, at 2,315 votes. Although observers pinpointed him as a promising candidate right from the start, his strong showing in the polls came as a surprise even to people who closely watch the local political scene. Blackman-Wulff holds a degree in planning from the University of British Columbia and an honours bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Concordia University in Montreal. He has worked for both municipal and provincial governments, and sits on the District of Squamish’s design advisory panel, which reviews development applications on design merits. His day job is constituency assistant for Jenny Kwan, MLA Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.
The owner of the controversial vessel Spudnik, Steen Larsen, gets on our 2015 Newsmakers watch list because Squamish residents will be anxious to see what finally happens with the rusty ship. The vessel was free to be picked up from its current New Westminster location as of Dec. 9, but Larsen wasn’t sure if he would bring his ship back to Howe Sound. Spudnik broke free from its local moorings on Nov. 12 and, when inspected by the Coast Guard, was found to have a “significant amount of oil” on board, according to a report presented to Squamish council from Jeff Brady, response specialist with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). The Spudnik was then towed to Amix Marine Group in New Westminster. There, workers removed the oil, which consisted of petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse and oil mixed with water. Keep your eyes on The Squamish Chief to find out the ultimate fate of the boat many local residents love to hate.
Peter Kent is another new councillor to keep an eye on in 2015. The 57-year-old made a big impression on Squamish voters with his early anti-LNG stance, his promise to push for a much more transparent council and to try to rebuild residents’ trust in municipal hall. He’s also a pretty interesting guy, having been the personal stunt double to Arnold Schwarzenegger for 15 years. Kent is also an inductee into Hollywood Stuntman’s Hall of Fame and a Gemini Award-winning producer who owns and operates the only stunt training academy in Canada, called “Peter Kent’s School of Hard Knocks.” Kent will certainly make the news on Feb. 13, when he plans to fulfill his promise to set himself on fire in downtown Squamish to reward voters for a higher turnout at the recent election.
As one of the three main partners behind the Sea to Sky Gondola, and the general manager and the spokesman for the attraction, Trevor Dunn makes The Squamish Chief’s 2015 newsmaker list because we expect to see more events and surprises coming from the gondola in the coming year. Since opening this past summer, the Sea to Sky Gondola has attracted international attention and was one of the main reasons Squamish was voted best mountain destination in North America by CNN Money.com in May. The venue is also opening a new tube park for the winter, hosted a plethora of events ranging from live music to winemaker dinners, and we hear has plans for mountain bike trails in the future. We look forward to seeing what the gondola has in store for local people and visitors alike in 2015.