The Pieceful Coast

Earlier this week, I was traversing the waters of Howe Sound in the metallic bosom of a BC Ferry.  From my car’s vantage point, I had a stellar view as the vessel cut through the stillness of the fjord.   And then it struck me how the calm waters of the Sound were a considerable contrast from the raging typhoons howling in the political arenas of the Sunshine Coast.

Neighbours, I am concerned. The gales that have occurred on our Coast the past few weeks are twisting opinions, pitting us against each other. Citizens are being disrespectful of other points of view, simply because it is not what they feel.  Rather than debating the issue, personal attacks are whipping around, stinging sand in to our community’s heart.

Healthy discourse and disagreement is part of the democratic process.  Running rampant with rumours,  fear mongering and throwing mud may advance your cause in the short term but in the long term, it will only further distance you from it. Negativity disenfranchises voters, especially newer voters, whom are simply trying to disseminate through the information to find the FACTS to make the best, or most palatable, decision for their future.

Coastally, we have some very real challenges facing us over the next few years: aging infrastructure, lack of services for our elderly populace, a deficit in young people and families, the need for affordable, safe housing and economic development to name a few.

We will still be neighbours after November 15, whether it be directly next door, in the same jurisdiction or as Port Mellon and Egmont. This Coast is our home.

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Demolition of the Berlin Wall.   The significance of this day in our global history should not escape us.   Politics divided families, friends and citizens for decades.  Let us not divide our own community in to separate pieces along opinion and posturing.

I truly believe in the following, and even though it was written in the context of contract negotiation, it fits for election time.

Whether you look from left or right
Your politics do not matter
It’s for our kids we must fight
But not leave each other in tatter

The balance of the modern world is found
in the harmony of success
even arguments can be a sweet sound
In their tangled, ugly mess

At the end of this… we rebuild
relationships, community, schools, our self
We try and forget of animosity that filled
But wait for the next contract to come off shelf

(excerpt from “Poem from a Negotiation Observer”)

In one week from today, we will know the make-up of our municipal governments for the next four years.    And for those four years,  we will continue to be neighbours.

We don’t have to be friends.

But let’s bring some peace to the Coast by treating each other with a bit more respect.

Open Letter to all #SunshineCoastCa Candidates

Open letter to all Sunshine Coast Candidates..

The past few weeks, Voice on the Coast has been heavily concentrated on encouraging members of the public to get involved in the Electoral process. We have held a forum, attended candidates meetings, circulated questionnaires to all candidates (acclaimed and those on the campaign trail)

One of the things that I personally have asked the public to do is to speak directly to those running for office. ASK them the questions that matter to YOU and your family and friends. And the public is doing that! I think that’s AWESOME.

Well, it was brought to my attention that someone has asked repeatedly for questions to be answered, specific to their family situation, and has waited WEEKS now for an answer. This voter has followed up numerous times. And been put off. This is a two-vote household, with both members under age 35.

CANDIDATES – please do not do this.
You are in the interview process right now. Don’t mess it up. November 15 is a few short days away. Are you REALLY interested in being hired?

This opportunity to speak directly to the public about what matters to them is incredible. Embrace it. Learn the stories that shape our coast. Answer the tough questions.

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC – please keep asking questions. You’re the boss here.
Nervous about asking/not sure what to ask? Send me an email. I’ll help.

Lori Pratt
VOICE on the Coast

November 15th will be here soon! Who’s got your VOTE?!

Check out my PSA on behalf of VOICE on the Coast, encouraging residents to find out about their local candidates then VOTING on November 15th.

Find out more about the candidates at the local government websites: for Rural Area 2 School Board Trustees for Regional Directors for Town of Gibsons Mayor and Council for District of Sechelt Mayor and Council

We do have several positions that have been acclaimed this year. I encourage you to find out more about those people as well.

Where Have All the Playgrounds Gone?

I was driving around Sechelt last week and noticed that there seemed to be a lack of playground spaces for young children.

We have playgrounds at the elementary schools, soccer fields and ball diamonds, but when it comes to the newest subdivisions in the Sechelt area, there are no ‘real’ playgrounds, especially in quickly expanding West Sechelt.  There are a few ‘green areas’ in the West Sechelt area — Tyler Heights Park and Clayton Park, but as you can see from my photos below, the playground equipment is unimpressive.  Picadilly Park is much more family friendly, but is still located quite a distance from these other two areas.  And if you want to drive, you can certainly try Trail Bay Waterfront, Pier and Adventure Park or Porpoise Bay Provincial Park.

Tyler Heights Park


Clayton Park


I will say that the views from both of these parks is amazing, but the terrain not especially friendly for young families. Tyler Heights is especially difficult, having been built up on a rock boasting in blackberry brambles. There is green grass at Clayton Park which I’m sure is lovely to roll around in after you’ve used the equipment there – a short slide. One positive thing is that both of these playgrounds are very close to the trail system that snakes through the West Sechelt area. And the view is stellar. But c’mon… the play structures are abysmal.

The Sunshine Coast community is trying to attract more families and young people, yet our neighbourhoods lack the subliminal message that children are present or even welcome. And yes, you could argue that these new subdivisions are not being marketed to families with young children. But those luxury homes can be sold to young professional couples that wish to make a lifestyle change to the coast or they can be sold to grandparents.  And don’t we already have enough luxury homes sitting empty on the coast?

The launch of the Vital Signs Report earlier this week (see full report here ) shows the aging demographic of our population is continuing to grow as the population under age 45 continues to decrease. In 2010, 40.9% of the Sunshine Coast population was under 45. In 2013, that number was 38.6%. No, this is not the fault of subpar playgrounds. But I would place blame in how each aspect of our community markets and brands ourselves to the world.

You can throw money at iniatitivies, projects and programs but if the policy, political will and messaging are not there, you will not change the trajectory that we currently following. By 2022, only 15% of the Sunshine Coast is projected to be of working age. Compare that with the rest of BC at approximately 40%. ( Vital Signs, 2014 )

Take a look around your neighbourhood with new eyes. What attracts you to live there? Is there a place for your children to play? What keeps you here? Is it your job, quality of life, the environment? What would it take to bring your friends here from off-coast?

As we enter the 2014 Municipal Election arena, listen to the candidates carefully as they address the issues brought forth to them. And make sure that you ask your questions.

November 15th comes quickly; make sure you have your voice heard.

Chatelech Secondary Graduation Speech June 25,2014

I had the pleasure of attending the Chatelech Graduation ceremonies on behalf of the Board on Wednesday evening.

Here’s my speech to the Grads.

Family and friends, honoured guests, staff, community members,

It is with great honour that I bring you greetings and congratulations on behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast. As trustees, we are so very proud of all of our students and their successes, many of which we get to celebrate this week – graduation.
As trustees, it our students that drive us to better for you all.

Chatelech is home of the Eagles. The Eagle is a fitting mascot for this school. From its physical location, perched on a cliff in the trees, to the nesting support of the incredibly dedicated teachers and staff that protect, nurture and guide you on your educational journey that allows you all to soar in the great sky.

You are an amazing group. I know but a few of you personally, but I have witnessed your great talents and prowess for the boardroom. We hear of the athletic achievements, the academic successes, of the kind hearts and great leadership.

As a Board, we thank you for lending us one of your own to become one of us, sitting at the governance table to give Students voice in their education. Maya, it has been a true delight to have you as a colleague and watch and support you as you have advocated for your peers and successors in our province and across our country.
Thank you Maya.

So, what’s next? I know that you have all been asked this question at least once. Is it university, work, or are you going to find an air current and glide?
The great thing about being an Eagle is that you can choose.
You can soar as high as you wish and with your strong wings you will fly far.

We are so proud of you all, watching as you spread your wings away from us: your family and friends, your teachers, the community that has watched you hatch in to these beautiful magnificent beings.

Please know that your nest on the Sunshine Coast will still always welcome you home.