Luke Strimbold’s first order of business Sunday morning was to accept some cookies made for him by a 10-year-old fan and his mother. Burns Lake’s new mayor was touched by this show of gratitude, and sees it as an example of the small community getting involved in local politics; something he thinks is a must to move forward.
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“I am ready and I think we’re going to face it as a community,” he said. “There are challenges within our community and when we work together and open-dialogue, I think we as a community are going to face those challenges.”
Strimbold is possibly the youngest elected mayor in B.C. history, and the second-youngest elected in Canada, according to an unofficial list – Clayton Smith was elected mayor in New Norway in Alberta when he was only 19.
But this distinction is not rattling Strimbold.
“I did have some people, some people were concerned with my age,” he admitted. “But I definitely heard some comments from the community saying ‘you know you have to look at what has been accomplished and what he’s capable of doing.’”
Strimbold grew up in Burns Lake, a community of just under 4,000 residents that is situated west of Prince George. He has been heavily involved in the community his whole life, and was elected to be on council during a by-election in late 2010.
“I’ve always had an interest in politics so I knew that becoming a councillor was going to be a stepping stone towards becoming the mayor,” he said, “and I’d kind of set myself up and made sure I worked hard at it, and learned lots.”
Now he faces many new challenges as the mayor, with some of the first items on his agenda being healthcare and infrastructure.
“We have a healthcare crisis in our community so one of my goals is to build a relationship with Northern Health and health authorities, also to have someone from Burns Lake on the Health Authority Board,” said Strimbold. “Also we have an infrastructure deficit in our community that we need to address, so getting a plan, or getting staff actively investigating what we can do to manage our infrastructure in our community.”
He also wants to continue to build relationships with First Nations in the region.
“I think it’s going to be a good council and we’re going to work together in our community,” he said.