Many District of Barriere residents are asking the question, “Who is Bill Humphreys?” after his name appeared on the ballot for the mayor’s seat in the District of Barriere.
At age 60 Humphreys is not a stranger to the community of Barriere where he lived for a short time in his early years before moving on. He tells that his grandparents lived her and operated a market and post office until the mid 1960’s, and that he returned twice a year to visit them. In later years Humphreys moved to Vancouver, and retiring after 32 years as an administrator performance manager for a major Telcom company, his family moved to Kamloops before settling in Barriere two years ago with his wife Rose. They have four children and three grandchildren. “We think Barriere is the best place in the world, It has four seasons, friendly people, and basically low taxes.”
Humphreys says he’s running for the mayor’s seat in the District of Barriere because, “I don’t think the way the town is going is right for Barriere in the short term.”
In an interview with the Star/Journal last week Humphreys noted, “Mayor and council are doing amazing things, but they are too far ahead of what the people can accept.”
Asked what he felt was “too far ahead” the candidate said, “Going ahead with the Southgate Industrial Park was a good idea but the District has no ownership of that land to this point. All of the lands should have been included in the Letters Patent. We need to step back and take the time to correct that and then move forward. Having gone forward, when they knew that the land with the bandshell hadn’t been transferred to the District, and they never ever should have gone forward with the industrial park. With all good intentions they are spending money that they don’t have, and there is no master plan. We should have developed a master plan and then told everyone what it was.”
Humphreys noted he is currently a member at large of the District of Barriere’s Integrated Community Sustainability Education Committee which is related to the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the Sustainabilty Report; and has met with other District groups and workshops regarding the OCP.
“The OCP is not finished,” said Humphreys, “In my opinion it would have been prudent to drive the Sustainability and the OCP. The Barriere Incorporation Committee had done all of this planning with 100’s of hours spent, and then council did it all again.”
The candidate says he has talked to a number of people who are concerned that this is happening, “Maybe they should have been encouraged to come forward and sit on those committees. I don’t personally know, but it seems we are reinventing the wheel. Money spent on the parks was untimely. Money could be better spent on known problems in the community. As a new council it would have been advisable to fix infrastructure and problems that have been known about for years, and then do the parks.”
“I’m not blaming the council,” said Humphreys, “It happens in the best run corporations. I like Mayor Fennell – I believe he is a passionate man. But he is unable to take direction with an open mind. If the majority of people don’t want parks, then they don’t get parks.”
Asked why the candidate had decided to take a run at the Mayor’s seat instead of a council position he stated, “At the point I decided to put my name in, it was right at the beginning. I tried to come to an agreement with Mike, but he wasn’t listening. If I was going to be a councillor we had to agree to disagree, but it never came to fruition. I personally think I have skill sets that are more suitable to the job. Mike is more passionate and will do anything. I’ll do anything to, but there are only so many hours in the day. I’ve said to Mike, “I’ll go out and rake rocks, and you go out and do your Mayor stuff”. He needs to focus.”
Humphreys says he believes the focus of the District needs to change. The energy being spent needs to be redirected. “We have a community of senior citizens, and then we have our younger people – everybody needs different things. The youth need schools and jobs. What we have here is a nice town; it’s a nice place to live, and it’s safe.”
Humphreys says he thinks the District should be doing more to promote the community to new residents, who will bring with them “money and needs”. “If we have a stock of privately held land for houses, and if we worked to bring people here until the economic environment improves; then all of the other opportunities will follow.”
He notes that new residents to the area will get involved with community groups and associations, “and as those grow the amenities come”.
“Let’s get more people to come here. We should target our area for tourism and a safe place to live. Selling of this town’s strengths now will help it to blossom,” said the candidate, “Industrial development of this town is too soon. Once the industrial park is ours, then it will be the right time. We need to sell the community first – we’re really the gateway to paradise.”
Humphreys says he feels the money spent by the District on the well at the Louis Creek industrial park “would have paid for two big entrance signs to Barriere”.
Humphreys believes that buy-in from the residents is important. “You have to have buy-in from the people who are supporting you – tax payers, the young people”.
What does he think is the most important item the District should address in the upcoming new term?
“In the short term the most important action is to stop spending – there’s nothing outstanding – do an assessment of what needs to be done for three years. Go back to the community, and link in with the OCP,” stated Humphreys, “In the long term – to rebuild the people of Barriere’s confidence that their council is doing the right thing. As we go forward we have to constantly tell them what we are doing so if we get off track they can correct us. We need to get back to public interaction and total transparency; show up at Success By Six, the Garden Club, and so on. We needful disclosure of where the mayor and council are going and what they are doing.”
Humphreys stated that he worked in Unions for years, “I asked the people what they wanted, and told them you can change the rules. If you don’t do it your department gets shut down, and it’s the same in a small town. People have a right to speak. A lot of people here feel they can’t afford what’s gone on here, and yet you see them walking in the oval [Fadear Park].
“The most important challenge facing the District of Barriere is the improvement of our infrastructure, including the water system, and the fact that we will soon be taking over the care of our roads. Also, we need to do more to attract young people to Barriere and everything that entails. I want to see Barriere progress, but at a reasonable rate.”
Humphreys says the last civic election saw a really good percentage of voters at the polls, “And I’d like them to beat that this time. I’d really like them to vote for me, but if not – if they vote they will get what they want.”
Mayoral candidate Bill Humphreys can be contacted at 250-672-5860, or email: email@example.com. He is also on Facebook.