Newly elected Mayor Barbara Roden has made history in small town Ashcroft, a 45-minute drive on Highway 1 West of Kamloops. In the 100+ history of settlement since the Gold Rush in the 1800’s Ashcroft has been run by men. With the recent municipal election that has changed with 81 per cent of the electorate voting for women.
Roden came out 36 votes over her competition Sandy Agatiello who came in with 283 and the end result of 43.1 per cent to 38.2 per cent and the remainder going to former councillor Alfie Trill who gained 18.6 per cent.
“In the 166-year history we only incorporated 66 years ago. I think its part that women just didn’t run in the same numbers we are seeing these days,” Roden said of the historic result. “It’s just a quirk that it took so long to 2018 for it to happen. It’s a nice distinction but means I have to live up to that now.”
Roden worked on council and as the editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal, where she said her history section, which comes out every two weeks in the paper, was the most popular thing she wrote about.
“For some people I’m the history lady and it’s nice being the first female mayor it’s an historic moment,” she said.
The key issues in Ashcroft were recycling as the recycling program was closed down in town and people had to drive out of town to deal with their recycling. This issue, as well as housing, which Roden said was a concern on the campaign trail. Specifically, Roden said Ashcroft is in need of more senior housing as the community ages, but she also noted that the expansion of the Ashcroft inland port could create up to 250 new jobs and that the community will need housing for the new people who will come to work.
Finally, Roden said she would lobby TRU to re-open the regional centre in Ashcroft.
“We would like to meet with someone from TRU because I know that Margaret Hohner in Lillooet does an excellent job for the regional centre there. We would certainly be interested in talking with TRU to see what it would take to get that sort of presence back in Ashcroft again,” she said. “We hear a lot, especially from younger people that they want more educational opportunities here rather then travelling all the way to Kamloops or travel to Kamloops or Lillooet.”
The former office has remained empty since TRU shut down it down a few years ago.
“That building is still available so anytime TRU wants to move back in we will welcome them with open arms,” Roden said.
For reference the regional centres are offices and buildings in small towns in the Thompson Nicola Regional District that were established to offer courses as well as upgrading and getting certificates. There are currently regional centres in Lillooet, Clearwater, 100 Mile, Barriere and Williams Lake which is the largest of the regional outposts of TRU.
Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Spence’s Bridge, Savona, Wallachin, Logan Lake, Lytton, Seton Portage/Shalalth, Gold Bridge/Bralorne and Lillooet are all serviced through the Lillooet office, which has a staff of one person.