The next provincial general election in British Columbia is scheduled for May 9, 2017 and to help our community get to know the candidates who are running in our riding we’re sharing profiles of each candidate. All candidates have been invited to share a profile with the Salt Spring Exchange and we’ll be featuring profiles on each candidate as they become available. This profile is for Stephen Roberts, who is running to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Saanich North and the Islands with the Liberal Party.
Here’s a little background on Stephen:
Salt Spring Island resident Stephen Roberts combines international experience with a local perspective that is based on a strong sense of community.
Support for Our Community
Local organizations, businesses, and members of the community trust me to be their voice on important issues affecting healthcare, the environment, and public services. I work to promote local businesses tirelessly and I have been the sponsor for the Small Business Prize at the annual Saanich Peninsula Chamber Crystal Awards. I also support artists locally and am a sponsoring partner in SSNAP, the Salt Spring National Art Prize. I believe strongly in local agriculture and am a founding and ongoing supporter of the successful Salt Spring Abattoir.
Standing Up for Seniors
I know that seniors have worked hard to build and maintain our communities. My advocacy work for hospice care in the Province, and for our local hospitals, is broadly respected. In a recent initiative, I am working on a community-based solution to ensure better primary care for seniors and the population overall. I also have been successful in advocating for affordable seniors housing.
Investing in Our Future
I recognize the need to build our economy and protect our spectacular natural environment. Jobs and workforce training are key, as is affordable housing. That’s one reason you’ll see so many young people around me, helping ensure I am our next MLA. Young people training to be engineers and marine pilots want the opportunities that come with growing our economy safely. Recognized by the UN for our revenue-neutral carbon tax, and by HM The Queen for the establishment of the Great Bear Rainforest, our Government has been making these smart choices for the environment, while BC enjoys the lowest unemployment and best job creation record in Canada.
A Track Record of Service
I currently serve on a number of volunteer boards and organizations. I am the Chair of the board of directors of the Vancouver Hospice Society, which operates an independent, privately funded hospice home on Granville Street in Vancouver. I am also the Chair of the Salt Spring Hospice Society, which provides hospice outreach and support services to the community on Salt Spring Island.
I serve as Chair of the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation, and also Chair of the Advisory Planning Commission for the Islands Trust. On the Peninsula, I am Secretary of the Memorial Parks Society, which operates the Mary Winspear Centre and Blue Heron Park. I’m also a member of the Salt Spring Forum and Salt Spring Conservancy. I support the Peninsula Streams Society and Sidney Food Bank.
An International Career Comes Full Circle
Prior to my first foray into politics in the 2013 Provincial Election (when I came second by just 163 votes!), I enjoyed a successful career as chief operating officer (COO) in the investment research divisions of three international banks, working in London, New York, and Hong Kong.
Although work took me around the globe, managing people in a multitude of offices, substantial budgets, technology projects, legal and compliance oversight, and the complex relationship between investment banking and investment research, my heart has always been right here at home, and I look forward to making an even greater contribution to our Gulf Islands communities as your representative voice in Victoria.
What brought you to the area?
I grew up here on Salt Spring, and after school and work in other parts of BC and overseas, I came home. Who wouldn’t?
What one thing about Salt Spring would you tell someone who has never visited the island?
Salt Spring collects interesting people from around the world to make their home on a beautiful island surrounded by the bountiful coastal waters of southern British Columbia. It is at once individualistic, and communal. Whatever the field of work or education, you can find someone on Salt Spring who has done it. It is an island of ideas and initiative, art and humanity. It allows everyone to renew themselves, or reinvent themselves. I am now a master jam maker after making the prize winning Best Jam or Jelly in the Fall Fair!
If you had a magic Salt Spring wand, what island thing would you change?
I would love to see the energy and idealism of Salt Spring Islanders channelled more effectively into resolving some of our very real problems with housing, mental health, and family-supporting employment.
Which well known person, living or dead, do you think would be a good addition to the island?
Leonard Cohen. He would fit perfectly.
Which elected position are you seeking?
Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
Why should Salt Springers vote for you?
I am a principled and energetic advocate for Saltspring. I am results oriented and want to see our community prosper through better housing, employment, healthcare and opportunity. Only a strong voice in government can deliver the best for our island. We need an advocate at the table when decisions are being made. We need our advocate to bring our perspective and our needs to the table.
Is there a really good interview question we should have asked you?
What do you worry about at night?
How would you have answered your question?
I worry that we have an ageing population on Salt Spring, with ageing healthcare and long-term care facilities. I worry about having good enough jobs to keep young families on Salt Spring. We need a sustainable island economy. That means jobs for younger people, so that they can reach their full potential and raises their families here. That also means being able to look after our seniors as they age here, and to be able to look after them well.
I’ll be working to from day one as you MLA to replace Greenwoods and the hospital, and to make Saltspring better for families by creating economic opportunity, and recreational opportunities like those enjoyed all other Canadian communities of a similar size.
We can make Salt Spring better for everyone.