Dave Birdi is running for re-election.
Birdi has been a councillor for the last 10 years, and has called Fort St. James home for most of his life.
The manager and economic development officer at Binche Whut’en, Birdi is particularly concerned with the local economy.
He first started on council in 2008, during the recession. At the time, the sawmill was shut down, there was a shortage of doctors, and, Birdi says, it was a very uncertain time for many in Fort St. James. Since then, Birdi says they have done a good job of diversifying the local economy. There’s now the mine, energy plant, hotel and more retail stores. He adds that there are also more doctors, and the talks regarding the new hospital are progressing nicely. But he says it’s not enough.
“The job isn’t complete,” he says. “Fort St. James still needs to attract more investments into the community.”
Birdi says he would like to promote not only the local economy, but the economy of the entire region. “My belief is that if the region prospers, so will Fort St. James. And this way, we’re not doing it alone — we not the only players trying to make changes.”
He believes that the housing market can attract more people into town, and, in turn, bring in more tax revenue to support the community. Not only is Fort St. James located in a beautiful area, but prices are comparatively low in the district compared to cities to the south.
The community also needs more industry. Birdi says in order to prepare for the future, Fort St. James needs “to work with the industry and the different levels of government to bring the resources to our community.”
Birdi says he used to live in Vancouver, but that he prefers Fort St. James for the lifestyle. “I spend more time with my family here and less time commuting … for me and my wife, that’s the best part of living in this community.” He says they’ve also both been able to be much more involved in the community than they could have been in a larger city.
President of the Fort St. James TV and Radio Society, director of the North Central Local Government Association, and director of Community Futures, Birdi spends much of his time volunteering around the community.
“I want to continue building on the work [that has been done in the past] and make sure Fort St. James is sustainable,” says Birdi. “At the end of the day, this is our home … I’m optimistic and I see a lot of opportunities in this community for [people of] all ages.”