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Hudson’s Hope byelection candidates concerned about town’s future

Five candidates running for a vacant councillor seat for the District of Hudson’s Hope met for an all-candidates forum on Feb. 10.
A view of Hudson's Hope by Signal Hill Rd.

Five candidates running for a vacant councillor seat for the District of Hudson’s Hope met for an all-candidates forum on Feb. 10, hosted by the local Lions Club. 

Nicole Gilliss, Greta Goddard, Joseph King, Valerie Paice, and Kimberly Stacey, have all put their names forward for the position, and expressed concerns over the town’s future: employment opportunities, economic impacts, amenities, and how to attract young people to the community. 

Dwindling services, and local business closures including the local hardware store, have become a concern for residents. 

Stacey said the small town has always had challenges, no matter the year, but feels Hudson’s Hope still has a lot to offer. 

“I believe there are some serious challenges facing our district,” she said. “I feel like every election says that, because it’s always true. Years ago, there was the challenge of replacing our clinic when it burnt down and there was much worry that it would not be replaced at all.”

She added that previous councils likely also found it challenging to build the town’s current pool, which is now in need of repairs, installing solar power to all of their municipal buildings, replacing the curling rink’s roof when it blew off, and upgrading their fire department. 

“All of these things have involved careful thought and consideration from all angles, public input and tough decisions. The people who came before us worked hard to put these things in place, and so many others, to ensure the future of our town,” said Stacey. 

While business closures and aging community infrastructure is not a unique problem, it’s sharply felt in small communities like Hudson’s Hope, she noted. 

A previous member of council, Gilliss said her focus is on strengthening the business community and has created a local business association to get a better sense of the needs and barriers faced by business owners. 

"I think we are in need of change, momentum, growth, and for lack of a better word, excitement, in Hudson's Hope," said Gilliss. "I don't think Hudson's Hope is sustainable in our current pattern." 

Like many Northern BC towns, the health and prosperity of the community is tied to resource development, with high and lows, booms and busts, as projects come and go. The most notable boom periods being during the construction of the WAC Bennett and Peace Canyon dams. With Site C nearing completion, a third reservoir will be created along the Peace River, transforming the region and town again. 

Hudson's Hope is also still struggling to sort out its water treatment plant, which was moved to a temporary solution after the failure of a new plant commissioned in 2021. 

Paice said she arrived during the construction of Peace Canyon, visiting family. It's a visit which has yet to end, she added, with a career as a social worker, a former district councillor, and as president for the local Métis society. 

"Nothing is accomplished by yourself, you have to work as a team player when you're out with everybody doing things, and that's the only way things are going to get done," said Paice, noting she's focused on business development and solving the water issues. 

"The water's number one. Has to be, always will be. And development for our community, and seeing where we're going to be going forth from there. The industries have come and gone throughout this town, and I've seen them all," she noted. "And hopefully we can persuade some more people to stick around and open some more stores." 

The town would also benefit from leaning into recreation, added Paice, and marketing the vast amount of wilderness available for outdoor activities. 

Goddard said the water treatment plant remains on the minds of most residents, and will need serious consideration to solve. 

“I think council has been dedicating a lot of time to trying to find some answers and find some solutions for our community,” she said, noting healthcare is also important, with the town in a healthy place for now. 

Keeping all services in place is an area that she’d like to maintain, noted Goddard, including ambulance and fire, especially with the current drought conditions facing the Peace Region. One of the biggest strengths of Hudson’s Hope is the town’s community organizations, she added. 

“I think with some leveraging power, those community organizations can also bring a lot to our town. And we can rely on them, instead of always putting our emphasis on the district,” said Goddard, noting she feel there’s grant opportunities which are being missed. 

King first came to Hudson's Hope as a paramedic and said the future of the town is there, so long as residents are willing to choose to move forward, noting volunteers are needed for a number of community organizations. 

"All that is past is prologue. Everything that's got us to this point happened in the past. It brought us to where we are, made us who we are, but we get to choose where we go from here," he said. "And so, rather than sit around and beat drums as to what did or didn't go right in the past, let's start new from here and go forward." 

The byelection was called after Kelly Miller’s resignation in October. General voting is scheduled for Feb. 24 from 8 am to 8 pm.