Radium Hot Springs’s second mayor will take a run at a second term.
“I was trying to figure out whether I could manage running two businesses, a household, a husband and a village. Was I going to be able to do it all?” Dee Conklin says.
“Once I sat down with my family and saw there was still the support there, then I decided I wanted to see an awful lot of the stuff we got started come to fruition.”
Conklin, who was hand-picked as a successor by outgoing Radium mayor Greg Deck, is a past president of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce and owns Palliser Printing and the CasaVino Wine Bar. She was acclaimed as mayor in the village’s last election in 2008.
Coming on to council as the economic downturn hit — the value of Radium’s building permits dropped from nearly $50 million in 2008 to $1.2 million in 2009 — Conklin says re-engaging the community was one of her first priorities.
“We were so busy building before that we might have forgotten what we call our local population,” she says. Since then, the village has started its own newsletter, helped create Radium’s market and Music on Main events, worked on park upgrades and secured a new fire hall.
“It’s wonderful, but we have to move forward,” she adds.
“We cannot survive on just being tourism-only. We have to look at how to make ourselves a sustainable community.”
Conklin says economic development initiatives with other valley communities would be a key component of her second term.
She also hopes to see the Canfor Corporation reopen its Radium sawmill, which closed in 2009, and says she’ll be meeting with company executives “seeing if there’s anything we can do to be creative.”
Filling in the gaps in Radium’s commercial areas is also on the agenda.
“If I could see, by the end of my term, having all of our storefronts full I would have accomplished something immense,” she says.
Though new to council when she took over the mayor’s chair, Conklin says she thinks her business background has given her an advantage in managing Radium’s affairs.
“A municipality in my mind should be run like a business,” she says, adding that she still faced a steep learning curve coming into the village government.
“I really believe I’m only coming into my own now,” she says.
“I’m able to speak on subjects that in the past I would have been very quiet on because I just didn’t know enough. It’s been a wonderful growing experience.”