Meet Williams Lake city council candidate: Sheila Boehm

CANDIDATE: Q&A

A Williams Lake chiropractor and two-term school board trustee with School District 27, Sheila Boehm said she is seeking a seat on city council to take on a new set of challenges and to represent the people, and the businesses of Williams Lake.

What is the solution to Williams Lake’s current housing and rental shortage?

For the ongoing issues with low income housing and rental issues there is no one simple solution but I do believe we need to look for different options. After attending one meeting discussing the zoning in Westridge it made me wonder about the city plan going forward. There seems to be more and more rental units in town as mortgage helpers and yet not enough is available. We need to look ahead as to what areas and how the zoning is now and going forward where other areas could be developed. Essentially try to be proactive instead of reactive to our needs.

What are your thoughts on the proposal to burn rail ties at Atlantic Power?

From what I have looked at in regards to the burning of rail ties, I have been trying to look into the issues and become informed. I know that the actual burning is a concern for many regarding air quality, but the standards of filtration and burning of the plant would have to be within limits allowed for Canada. As we await the appeal decision I hope the new council will have some time to review this decision. I have more concerns around the transportation of the rail ties and where exactly they would be stored, with the knowledge that chemicals would be leaching into the ground and possibly affecting ground water etc.. I also know that some cities did say no and would need to review their rational as well as the studies regarding the chemicals released into the air with burning. I am very concerned about this issue going forward.

What measures by council do you think would help diversify and strengthen the local economy?

In order to diversify and strengthen the community the city council needs to continue what it has been doing the past four years, with continued emphasis on economic growth and development. I would also like to look for projects that can be combined with our local First Nations, CRD or other neighboring areas to the benefit of all. With the looming shortage of wood and fire issues surrounding Williams Lake we need to look at what businesses are needed and what other communities are focusing on to enhance economic stability going forward. I know that we have lots to offer in the tourism sector that needs to be grown as well, with fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, and biking to name a few.

With the change in climate and increasing threat of wildfires, what strategies would you support to make the community safer and more resilient?

It does seem that the climate is changing and bringing issues like fires as a more regular issue. Our community needs to continue to discuss and follow through on learning how to clean up the yard and think about fire hazards etc. I would like to see the City discuss the crown land and dead pine that still is visible around and how to help everyone on cleaning up fire hazards and trying to determine any future issues that might affect Williams Lake. Looking at this summer I think we also need to watch for areas that could have slides or avalanches all of these seem to be affected with the variable temperatures.

Considering we always rank in the top 10 for crime severity, do you think Williams Lake is a safe place to live for everyone?

I have lived in Williams Lake most of my life and it has always been top of the crime list. My husband and I and most of our family lives in the area, and we feel very safe and do not feel much has changed since we were kids. We now have three kids and we feel very safe in letting them explore and be a part of the community, I do not think we would feel as comfortable if they were exploring the bigger cities on their own. I do feel we really need to support our RCMP and look at how we can help make our community safer for all our citizens.

What would you do to protect and/or enhance the city’s air quality?

I know we have struggled the last couple of summers with air quality related to our surrounding fires. I am hoping that there will not be as much fuel around although I suspect there is still lots that could burn. I feel we need to consult with our local forest service and government over some prevention with thinning and selective logging around the Williams Lake area for the express purpose of decreasing the risk of fires close to the city. Not to mention some of that thinning could be used for wood fuel and not the rail ties, this could be a win win situation. I also think we can look at our industry for air quality but they do have standards to comply with in Canada.

What ideas do you have for the proposed trail and amenities on the RC Cotton Site that would preserve Scout Island as a nature sanctuary and wildlife viewing area while giving residents more access to the lake?

I am very excited about the future expansion of the RC Cotton site for the residents of Williams Lake and visitors to our area. I feel that as part of looking to the future that we need to allow the trails and what we have now at Scout Island be able to expand. Also we would allow more access points, like boat launches etc. It would be nice to have greater access for all of us to do more and enjoy the lake. I personally am hoping this will also be added to influence the tourism to our city. I am hoping that we can ask the residents of Williams Lake and area their opinions on what would be the most used and appreciated by us all, usually when asked people can come up with amazing ideas. I can’t wait to see how great the Lake can be.


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