HUDSON’S HOPE, B.C. — Travous Quibell is the newest mayor of Hudson’s Hope, officially declared elected on July 31st, following the July 29th by-election.
Quibell said he appreciates everyone who supported him and his fellow candidates for running a clean race.
“I’m sure for everybody that has gone through an election and race for a position as mayor or councillor, it’s a little surreal when you get to the end of it. It takes a little while to sink in, but it’s been an immense outpouring of support from the community,” he said. “And it was a good race, it was a clean race.”
Born and raised in the community, Quibell has served on council for the past 20 years as a councillor. Stepping into the role of mayor means new but familiar responsibilities, says Quibell, the biggest change being an increase in public profile and how he represents the community.
“There’s a certain amount of additional public profile that comes with stepping into the shoes of mayor, as the representative of your community,” he said.
Ultimately, the role means being on 24/7, added Quibell, meeting with residents officially and unofficially, whether that’s at a council meeting or running into folks at the grocery store or the post office — all part of day-to-day life in the small town.
However, district responsibilities will never fall solely on him — it’s a team effort, noted Quibell, with mayors needing to listen to and rely on their fellow council members.
“We like to think of the mayor as the person who is, you know, sort of making the shots, calling the orders, that sort of thing. But really, you are beholden to your council at the end of the day,” said Quibell. “It’s an excellent opportunity to be a leader, to direct the conversation, to bring forward ideas, to listen to your community, and help steer your council in the direction your community needs to be successful.”
Quibell says he takes cues from all of the town’s past leaders but was particularly inspired by the legacy of former mayor Lenore Harwood, who was known for her kindness and tenacity in pursuing many important projects and initiatives for Hudson’s Hope.
“She was a fantastic leader for our community, and she made being a mayor a full-time job — really took it to heart and that poured out of her,” said Quibell. “If you spent any time around Lenore, you know what kind of person she was and how much she truly cared for the community, and I’ve tried to carry that forward.”
Quibell also expressed respect for his predecessor, former mayor Dave Heiberg. The by-election was called shortly after Heiberg stepped down earlier this year. An educator at heart, Heiberg taught at the local school for many years, in addition to numerous roles in the community.
“He was a fantastic mayor and a fantastic leader. He could really command a room, and you know, as a teacher, it’s one of those skill sets that he definitely leaned into,” said Quibell.
Looking forward, Quibell said he’s still committed to live-streaming council meetings as soon as he can get the idea moving with council — greater transparency and improved communication from council was a hot topic for residents who attended the by-election all-candidates forum.
“I feel it’s one of the easiest wins for us; streaming is now almost ubiquitous. We have a culture now where, you know, my ten-year-old son streams his video games so that his friends can watch,” said Quibell. “If he can do it, we can do it.”
Community growth was another deeply discussed topic during the forum. While there’s no magic solution to solving the town’s growth, says Quibell, the town needs to look holistically at how to make it an appealing destination for new businesses and potential residents.
“It’s very rarely a case of there being a magic bullet — one single thing that you can do to suddenly spur on growth in a community, and so it’s going to come down to a lot of different things,” he said. “As a community, we have to make sure that we do our strategic planning correctly.”
Quibell feels the town’s greatest strength remains lifestyle – while winters may be tough in Northeast BC, Hudson’s Hope enjoys hot summers surrounded by lakes, rivers, and vast amounts of wilderness available for recreation, a huge draw for anyone who loves the outdoors and a relaxed pace of living.
“We have access to an immense amount of recreational area. We have some of the most beautiful lakes, and rivers, and green areas that exist anywhere in the province,” said Quibell, noting the micro-climate is similar to the Okanagan, despite a shorter summer.
Council’s first official sitting following the by-election will be on August 14th. It’s expected the tie for the councillor position will be settled by then, a judicial recount was requested for candidates KK Charlesworth and Jeanette McDougall, who tied at 113 votes each.