Quadra Islander Robyn Mawhinney hopes to usher in generational change and promote island values as she declares her candidacy to be the Strathcona Regional District Area C director.
Mawhinney has lived on Quadra Island for 28 years, during which time she has done everything from help start the annual fall fair to sit on the board of the Quadra Island Children’s Centre. Now she’s looking for a new challenge: running for the SRD director of the area.
“I’m an empty nester now. I do have more space in my life for something like this. I think it’s a big job and it requires a lot of dedication and commitment,” she said. “I am deeply committed to Quadra Island and this area, the community and the land. I want our island and our area to continue to be governed by island values. I think I’m the right person for the job.”
By island values, Mawhinney means the strength of the community, its rural nature, resilience, sustainability and creativity, and, most importantly, respect for the First Nations on whose unceded territories Quadra Island and the mainland inlets sits.
“In doing this work and deciding to run for regional director, I’ve felt that it was really important to reach out to the First Nations that Area C is within,” she said. “I’ve introduced myself and have been really fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with three of the four First Nations here. I would like to continue with respect and honouring them as rights holders. The most important thing is that respect for First Nations is a core island value.”
One of the biggest things Mawhinney would like to do is to make sure that islanders are heard.
“I’m hearing from a lot of folks that they want to be heard by their local representative,” she said. “Establishing an advisory planning commission with a diverse spectrum of islanders is something that I want to do right away. Hearing a variety of perspectives and getting that kind of community input on land use would be really helpful as a director.”
Besides that, Mawhinney’s focus is on housing, which she says touches on so many other areas of life on the island.
“I’ve been involved in the tourism sector for a long time, and I’ve seen how lack of housing affects hiring. That’s happening to all of the businesses, many businesses on Quadra,” she said. “Housing is affecting seniors, because there’s a lack of homes to age in on Quadra. Folks want to downsize, and then families could move into those homes. There’s nowhere for them to downsize to.”
“The community is facing a housing crisis, and it’s also really affecting emergency services and their availability. Every month, there are multiple days when there’s no paramedic available on Quadra… Us islanders are being told that ambulances might be holding patients over night until the first ferry in the morning,” she said. “Paramedic shortages and after hours ferry availability are being exacerbated by the housing crisis. It’s a very challenging problem, and I’m hoping that I can bring change or make shifts.”
Mawhinney said she is ready for the demands of the job, and that she is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m the kind of human who is prepared to take on challenges and stand up for what’s right. I’m ready to use my energy to focus on area C issues,” she said. “It’s time for generational change. It’s time for my collaborative, community-minded approach.”