Jordan Sturdy was elected as the MLA for the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky Region in May last year. The former Mayor of Pemberton is currently the parliamentary secretary to the Minster of Transportation and a member of the Environment and Land use committee. Sturdy talked about his experience as an MLA with Gagandeep Ghuman.
How has this one year been for you?
Well, it’s been a year of learning and a year of understanding at different levels. I was well-prepared for the job frankly because I think I came from Pemberton, from a community that has connections to the land and resource sector and I also served on the SLRD.
“I’m a pragmatist and I spoke of this project as an opportunity for Squamish” Jordan Sturdy
What was the learning experience you talk about?
Well, I suppose how different the municipal system is from the provincial system. At the municipal level, the government is generally consensus based, but at a provincial level, it’s an adversarial system. There is a built in opposition whose role is to oppose. It was a stark contrast and was more of a surprise and it was my naiveté frankly.
What is your typical day like?
The typical day depends on whether we are sitting in the legislature, so it can start as early as 7:30 am in the morning. We can have a meeting or outreach. Last week, we had an orientation meeting for government caucus with ministers, deputy ministers. We discuss what some of the specific issues in each person’s riding are and how we are dealing with health, resource sharing, etc. Right now we are doing budget estimates, so each minister comes to the budget estimates with his staff and then the opposition critics will question the minister. We will have a caucus meeting at night and events and functions to attend.
Delving straight into the LNG debate, do you share the concerns that many people have?
I’m a pragmatist and I spoke of this project as an opportunity for Squamish and for the province. It’s not a done deal…but it’s an opportunity. The one here is a brownfield site, has a deep water port, and has access to hydro power. Within the municipality, there aren’t a lot of sites like this so there is a real opportunity for direct benefit for taxation.
What about the environmental issues?
Well, there are going to be submissions to EAO likely this fall and at that point we will know the specific of what the proposal is. There is a tremendous amount of rumour, how the compression will be, how the facility will look like, will it float or will it be terrestrial and all these are significant issues, but I have faith in the system
And I also have to live with the projects that I support or don’t support, and I am waiting to see what kind of application comes forward. We have to look at the balance and the cost and the benefit of the operation. If the outcome is that it will drive away marine life, then obviously I don’t support it and it’s not acceptable.
The Squamish LNG project may generate 100 jobs and tax benefits, but i don’t think it will be a game changer…yet it’s part of a spectrum of economic development in the province.
What do you do in the position of parliamentary secretary to the Minster of Transportation?
It entails supporting the minister. In the fall, we were in consultations with BC ferries and the TransLink referendum has taken up fair bit of time. In the summer, there will be likely work on transportation strategy for Vancouver Island.
You are also a member of the environment and land use committee, what is your role there?
It’s an elect cabinet committee and has virtually everything that involves air, land or water. It’s a committee more of a provincial nature, there are the Ministers of Environment, Forest, Aboriginal Relations, and four private members. We deal with pretty much anything that comes forward to cabinet’s consideration.
What are some of the other issues?
Well, there are so many issues in Sea to Sky Region. LNG is a big topic, the forest sector and its viability in Sea to Sky, Tourism and the part it plays in our economic future. There are a whole variety of other project…there is no shortage of major activity here in Sea to Sky.