Social, environmental issues bring Tofino mayor to provincial politics

Josie Osborne, Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA, speaks with voters during the 2020 provincial election campaign, in Bowser on Oct. 10, 2020. || File photo
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“I think relationships between different levels of government are extremely important to getting things done and I’ve always put relationships first, so I’ll be using the strong relationships that I have locally, as well as provincially,” said Josie Osborne, NDP candidate for Mid Island-Pacific Rim.

NDP candidate Josie Osborne said her interest in social and environmental issues are what motivated her to enter the race when current MLA Scott Fraser announced he would not run this election.

The mayor of Tofino wants to use her experience in municipal politics to improve the quality of life for people in the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding. NDP candidate Josie Osborne said her interest in social and environmental issues are what motivated her to enter the race when current MLA Scott Fraser announced he would not run this election. 

“I think relationships between different levels of government are extremely important to getting things done and I’ve always put relationships first, so I’ll be using the strong relationships that I have locally, as well as provincially,” said Osborne, who has been mayor for over seven years.

She said the pandemic made her think about bringing the issues she sees in her own community to the provincial legislature. The economic downturn took a toll on businesses and families in Tofino, according to Osborne. 

“We have the opportunity to build back a much stronger social fabric, a more resilient economy and to begin to really lift people up to a quality of life where everybody has access to the services that they need,” she said. 

Osborne pointed to issues such as a lack of affordable housing and property speculation, which are challenges in Tofino and many parts of the province. 

“It’s made it very inaccessible to young families and to people and we need to continue with the actions that the BC NDP government has been taking to keep prices down,” she said.

Social distancing has meant a lot of face to face campaign interactions cannot happen, which means a lot more phone calls, social media and Zoom meetings, according to Osborne. There are also opportunities for physically distanced events, including meet and greets outdoors in places such as a supporter’s backyard or in front of Bowser’s Magnolia Court.

“I really enjoy seeing people’s faces and being able to meet them and look eye to eye and look at the issues,” said Osborne. “It’s definitely different, but I am getting a lot of positive feedback from people about the opportunity to talk, [whether] it’s on the phone, zoom or a physically distanced conversation.”

Mid Island-Pacific Rim is a large riding which encompasses communities as far apart as Cumberland, Port Alberni and Bamfield. It is not easy to make a stop in each place, especially with COVID-19, but Osborne said she will do her best. 

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