Brenda Gouglas is running for mayor of Fort St. James.
Gouglas has spent 10 years as a councillor on the district council. She first served two terms from 2005 to 2011, followed by her third term from 2014 to 2018.
As a retiree, Gouglas says she devotes much of her time to her council work. “That is my work,” she adds.
Before retiring, she worked for in the forest service for the provincial government. She says that experience helped her to better understand the political side of her run for council, and now mayor. She is also the Municipal Chair of the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement Committee, and has spent years working to bring the new hospital to Fort St. James, something which has since come to fruition.
The new hospital was officially announced on Oct. 9, 2018.
Gouglas believes the community needs a sense of continuity moving forward. “We have a lot of things on the go that I believe we need to keep our hand in.
“We’ve been talking a lot of safety issues – traffic through town is always a concern for us. Keeping town attractive, or helping to keep town attractive, is another that I’m really passionate about.”
She adds that core infrastructure, particularly water and sewer, are another concern. Like many small communities, Fort St. James has aging infrastructure and it can be difficult to afford the projects necessary to maintain it. Gouglas says the council and mayor need to be actively saving money for those projects, as well as tapping into the grants available to help communities like Fort St. James.
Another thing the mayor and council are responsible for is the economic stability of the municipality, something Gouglas says they have been particularly diligent about. “We pay close attention to our expenditures, our purchases, and year over year this term we have put ourselves in a positive financial position. So we’re putting money away into reserves for when we do the bigger water and sewer improvements and when we do have to buy capital equipment, we’re not undermining our financial position, and we’re not having to borrow money.”
Having lived in the community for the last 32 years, Gouglas says she has a lot of history here. “I’ve seen the good times and the bad times, and I really know where our community wants to be, where they want to go. And I’m here to help them get there.”
She says getting the community to the place it needs to be will take team work and partnerships, and not just the mayor and council. “The whole community needs to be part of it.”