Al Raine has led Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) as mayor since its inception in 2010 and has announced he will run for a fourth and final term this fall.
Raine was elected as mayor in the 2010, 2011 and 2014 elections running uncontested in 2014. He has used his experience as a councillor on Whistler’s first council from 1975 to 1982 to provide expertise as SPMRM grows.
“I had some very practical experience to give to the community,” he said. “It looked like it would be positive thing to have the first mayor be the only person who’s been to a council meeting.”
He said he intended for the 2014 election to be his last but was disappointed to see no one else came forward. He also wants to see some important projects to their finish. When SPMRM was chosen to receive federal funding for the Sun Peaks Centre he knew he would run for one more term.
“I think four years from now we will be in a very good place.
“I really have this vision we must be more than a winter resort, we must be more than skiing. We must diversify the economy for people working here. They need a job and enough tourism or other business to have employees stay over summer months. No one can live here as a young family without it. It’s more simple to keep year round staff than retrain every six months.”
For Raine there are a number of projects that take top priority.
For one, the Sun Peaks Housing Authority, focusing on employee housing and making Sun Peaks more livable. Another important one in Raine’s mind is the Sun Peaks Centre.
“When we got the $6 million grant that was the turning point. All of a sudden we’ve got the $6 million and how we operate the Sun Peaks Centre is critically important for how we address employee housing.
“Putting all of that together will be a good challenge.”
“I personally believe it (the Sun Peaks Centre) will be a game changer. I will be working hard at making sure it will succeed.”
Raine spoke of the importance of employers being involved in owning and managing homes for their employers and for rent to be kept to an affordable portion of their wages. He added if or when employers no longer require the housing it will be sold back to the authority at the same price in addition to the cost of any improvements.
“10, 15, 20 years from now we should have a good reserve (of homes).” he said.
He also said the municipal takeover of utilities was important to him.
“The municipality taking over utilities is a big step forward for everyone. It doubled our employees and budget. Their budget was slightly bigger than the whole municipalities budget before.”
Long term he hopes the takeover will help keep utility prices stable or even decreasing.
“If we hadn’t taken over there’s no question the cost was headed up significantly.”
Raine also pointed to the Health Centre and school as projects he was proud to help with for the community.
“We have to make Sun Peaks a liveable place for people who are year round residents in addition to part-time residents. We must be one of the most livable communities in the province.”
As for what keeps him putting his name forward?
“I like the people,” he said with a smile. “Have I skied on better slopes? Absolutely. I’m drawn to the good snow but we have some great people. How many other communities could raise the money we have for the health centre? We built a school out of donations…there are always people stepping up.
“At our public meetings there are often two sides and I don’t think we’ve ever had a public meeting without full respect of the other person’s opinion. That doesn’t happen in a lot of communities.”