Current Quesnel city councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg is coming to the end of 10 years on council, and she’s ready for more.
She served on council for two three-year terms under Mayor Mary Sjostrom, and now her current four-year term under Bob Simpson. Roodenburg’s role as executive director of the West Quesnel Business Association keeps her busy, but she finds plenty of time to volunteer in the community, as a member of the local Rotary Club, the Friends of Hope Air committee and the UNBC senate.
As if that weren’t enough to fill her schedule, she’s also a board member with the Business Improvement Areas of British Columbia (BIABC); the past-president of the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA); and was just elected in Whistler last week as a Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) director-at-large.
“In my spare time, I’m also learning to play the bagpipes,” she says, rounding out the full gamut of her interests.
Roodenburg is passionate about Quesnel and wants to continue to champion events and organizations that build community.
She notes that many people don’t know their neighbours these days, and communicate with other residents more on social media than they do in person or over the phone. She wants to encourage locals to get back to in-person relationships.
“We need to become more ‘community minded.’ Creating events such as neighbourhood block parties could allow people a chance to get out and meet their neighbours, introduce themselves to new neighbours and just get to know each other face to face rather then just online. These events could include opportunities to bring in an educational component such as Bear Aware experts, as an example.”
Some of Roodenburg’s other community building ideas include finding ways to use LeBourdais Park on weekends when there aren’t planned events, and partnering with Business Associations to come up with more community events in their areas.
She also hopes to continue to work on seeking funding for an upgrade to the local pool, as well as for a new gymnastics centre and performing arts centre.
But Roodenburg also recognizes that there are some more serious issues afoot in Quesnel, including local property crime and a lack of both low-income and market housing.
She believes Quesnel needs to partner with the Province to create an RCMP task force to deal with the increased presence of drugs and crime, and, if elected again, would like to work on increasing the number of living spaces available to First Nations, elderly and low-income residents, as well as finding new ways to meet the needs of the changing demographics of the city, with more market housing.
Roodenburg says she’s seen great success with the local Clean Team initiative, and wants to continue to expand the program, which employs locals to patrol areas around the city and clean up drug paraphernalia. With knowledge gleaned from working with UBCM, BIABC and NCLGA, Roodenburg often has unique insight into how other municipalities find funding for such initiatives.
“As a member of the BIABC board of directors, I learned that BC Housing had offered funding to another community for their Green Team program. I brought that information back to Quesnel, and we are working with [BC Housing] as partners for this program. ”
Overall, Roodenburg says she has enjoyed her last 10 years as a councillor. She says the role has changed over the years, as residents have become more vocal when they want to see something changed.
“When first elected, conversations were different with the community. Now, the expectations are far greater in the need for transparency and consultation. The public wants to know that you are being fiscally responsible for the upgrades of our basic infrastructure and amenities. They want you to be involved in the community, and they want you to be part of the discussions of matters that might be outside the scope of what council is mandated to do, but have a huge impact on our community.”