Current Fernie councillor Ange Qualizza has announced that not only will she be looking to continue in local government, but will also be running for Mayor in the upcoming municipal elections.
“I am running because I love the work of local government, the impact of local government is immediate, which is exciting, and governance and policy blend very well with my professional background,” she said.
Outside of her life as a councillor, Qualizza is an economist, and together with her husband, owns an oil and gas consulting company.
“Fernie is my home town,” she said. “I feel very privileged to be raising my children here and am very motivated to make sure our community serves a wide variety of people which includes young families.”
Qualizza says she hopes to address the challenges and opportunities facing Fernie over the next four years. She explained that Fernie, like other local governments, provides basic services such as roadways, water, and waste disposal, but is now also facing housing issues that impact the economic development of the town, as well as requests for shared service delivery and extreme weather events.
“Our community is bustling with the success of our past, we have a rich resource economy, and are a world class recreation destination,” said Qualizza. “I truly believe the future is bright for Fernie and am excited about the next four years.”
Qualizza has served as a councillor in Fernie for four years, and said it was hard to choose what she considers her biggest achievement over the last term.
She concluded that it was a tie between two – being elected by her peers to serve on the executive of the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments for her entire four-year term, is the first. She says this has given her the opportunity to work with nine other elected officials; mayors, councillors and regional directors from the Kootenay-Boundary area.
“We discuss and identify issues that impact our economy, environment and the well-being of the people in our region,” said Qualizza.
“By focusing on issues from a regional, rather than local perspective, we have a stronger voice and greater opportunity to find solutions.”
Qualizza added that they also plan and deliver an annual conference which builds capacity in local leaders. She feels her time on that board has been invaluable in terms of working and connecting with other local governments.
Secondly, Qualizza said she is very proud to have been heavily involved in the launch of a new resort shuttle bus, which served 1400 riders during its first year of operation.
Qualizza says her goals, if re-elected, are:
1. To continue on the success of the past and work with a team to make Fernie resilient to the pressures facing our resort community. I want to strengthen our economic function by working on securing light industrial land, so we can attract new commercial business, use the tools available to local government to incentivize a variety of housing products to serve a variety of needs, and work with business owners to reduce barriers facing them from City Hall. 2. To use the next four years to work on climate resiliency and public safety, which means investing in infrastructure to manage extreme rainfall, flood threat and fires.
3. The communication function of City Hall can be improved with technology and more authentic public engagement. I am deeply committed to being available for real conversations, and plan on implementing the brown bag luncheon program other municipalities do. Once a month, we sit together and share a brown bag lunch and have open and honest conversation engaging one another, sharing ideas in an informal setting. As an economist, I know community economic development doesn’t happen top down, it only works if we are all working together on a shared vision for Fernie. Sharing a brown bag lunch is a step in that direction.
Qualizza added: “I think the future is bright, and I hope after four years in local government I get the opportunity to work to build an even stronger Fernie for our citizens.”