After four years sitting on council for the Village of Radium Hot Springs, Karen Larsen has stepped down from her seat.
Ms. Larsen made the announcement at the village meeting on October 12th, thanking council for the experiences and life lessons that she said shes gained since becoming a councillor.
Ive learned so much being here with you guys, and theres been some ups and some downs, but I think thats what makes this town so amazing, she told council. Its because we all come from different walks of life and we bring forward our experiences with that, and its good to see different viewpoints. It has been a pleasure being here with everyone with some great memories so I cherish that.
Since announcing her departure from council, Ms. Larsen has moved with her four children to Nanaimo, B.C to join her husband, Torben, who moved there a year ago. The family first moved to Radium Hot Springs in 2008 from Dawson City, Yukon after looking for a community that was a stepping-stone to a different lifestyle.
She said she was encouraged by some of her close friends to run for council after questioning the future of the village through certain projects and initiatives. Coming from a northern community with a strongly integrated Aboriginal presence, she said she was also interested in seeing why the same wasnt necessarily the case in Radium Hot Springs when she arrived.
Joining council in 2011, she said she always fought on council for the people of the community first, despite Radium being mostly known as a tourist community.
People will come here because its beautiful, she said. You dont have to focus on what they want, we need to focus on what we need and what we want and that brings people because theyre not getting that where they are.
Radium mayor Clara Reinhardt said this questioning of the status quo is one of the qualities that made Ms. Larsen such a valuable contributor in her time as a councillor.
I know when you first came on board you had so many questions and you really made us stop and think and ask ourselves why weve been doing things for as long as we have and I give you a lot of credit for the minimal in-camera sessions that we have now, she told Ms. Larsen at her last council meeting. You really made a difference here.
One thing that Ms. Larsen said shes been told while working on council is that she thinks with her heart more than her head.
I got frustrated with that, because things like the environment, all the things around us that we should be cherishing and taking care of, are kind of being ignored, she said.
With a vacant seat on the council for Radium Hot Springs, the village is preparing for a new election in the future. According to the Local Government Act, once a vacancy is announced, the community needs to appoint a chief election officer who must set a general voting day for the election on a Saturday no later than 80 days after the chief election officer was appointed.
Ms. Reinhardt said they are mindful of running an election around the holiday season as it would not be fair to voters or the candidates themselves, so they are still waiting to determine an official election date.
As for Ms. Larsen, she said she has no interest in getting back into local politics in her new home, but hopes that younger people will replace her and get interested in the future of the community.
Some things are changing, but its so slow to change we need a lot more younger people in politics with good mindsets to protect the things that are important, she said. Canada is a beautiful country, we are so fortunate to be here and I just hope the younger generation continues to see that.