As a community volunteer and former school trustee, Brice O’Neill said he can be a strong voice on the Cariboo Regional District board.
“I think I can really help and I think I can make a difference,” said O’Neill, one of three candidates in the upcoming byelection for Area F.
O’Neill ran in the 2018 CRD election and during the campaign heard concerns from constituents about Agricultural Land Reserve and about the Mount Polley Mine spill of 2014.
“Mount Polley and the remediation is obviously still a big issue.”
Another item was the need for an emergency preparedness plan for Big Lake.
“Joan Sorley said she would stay on and help whoever was elected to work on it. She had been working on it for quite a while,” O’Neill said. “I’d like to see it get finished.”
Fire protection, water issues, social and economic development for several of the smaller communities in the area are all requiring a strong voice at the government level as well as the need for a stronger communication system.
“I think the best way to get high-speed internet is through cell service. It’s absolutely doable and it is how they have been doing it.”
While O’Neill resides in Williams Lake, he grew up on the top of the hill by Dugan Lake on the Horsefly Road.
“I have friends in Horsefly and all around the 150. It’s always been important to me.”
Many people living in Area F are his customers at New World Coffee and Tea House, where he has been the executive chef for nine years, and constituents from when he was on the SD 27 board of education.
“I have been cooking since Grade 8,” he said. “I started in the high school cafeteria cooking for other students.”
He graduated from the culinary arts program at Vancouver Community College in 2004, and said he was the first above-the-knee-amputee to graduate from the program.
“I injured my leg in a car accident in 1993 in Williams Lake and then in 1995 from complications, I decided to have it amputated.”
He is the father of two school-aged daughters, loves to teach them how to cook and has been volunteering to teach cooking at Elders College as well.
“I do a lot of cooking, my life revolves around cooking.”
In the past, he volunteered for the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre, and helps every year with Yuletide Dinner in December.
“I want to put the political experience that I have received over the past several years to work for the residents of the area,” O’Neill said. “Having spent much of my growing up years in Area ‘F’. I know I can be a voice for the people living here.”
The byelection was called after Conrad Turcotte, who successfully won the post in the October 2018 election, was unable to swear his oath of office due to illness.
Advance voting takes places Monday, March 25 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at th CRD board office, 180 Third Avenue North.
General voting day is Saturday, March 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with polls at the CRD board office, 150 Mile School, Horsefly community hall, Big Lake community hall and Likely School.