Princeton councillor Jerome Tjerkstra is excited about what is happening in the Town of Princeton.
“My theme is ‘maintain the momentum,” he said in an interview with The Spotlight. “Change has happened and more change is coming.”
Tjerkstra has lived in Princeton for nine years and assists his wife Thomasina Murdock in operating Thomasina’s Cafe on Bridge Street.
Previously the couple lived and worked in the hospitality industry in the Lower Mainland.
“At different times in your life you have new questions and new priorities come to the fore. We wanted a retreat from the task-driven life of the coast and a return to our rural routes, because we are both from rural areas.”
Tjerkstra has served four years on town council and is seeking re-election.
When asked to comment on his strengths Tjerkstra said: “My entrepreneurial experience, my management experience – management of people – and my experience that includes a lot of community development.”
For ten years, during his thirties, Tjerkstra worked on the funding side for a non-governmental organization providing assistance in developing countries.
During that time he lived for a year in Bangladesh, and also spent time in Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
“I think the biggest thing I learned is that community development starts with individual development,” he said. “We need to grow as individuals and take risks as individuals and when enough people do that change happens.”
One of the Princeton changes of which Tjerkstra is most proud is the hiring of an economic development director last year. That has lead to numerous initiatives, including the recently-inked deal bringing BC Green Pharmaceuticals to town with the promise of 195 new jobs.
Tjerkstra is the councillor who pursued the grant funding to create the economic development position, and participated in selecting Gary Schatz as the director.
“My vision was to create or develop more pillars, more economic pillars, so the town can withstand the development of events beyond our control – be they the big macro pictures like NAFTA or Amazon, or one of the major industries closing. I wanted to see Princeton be able to not just survive, but flourish in spite of these kinds of risks.”
Tjerkstra is a forceful proponent of the proposed indoor wellness and aquatic centre.
“A vote for me is a vote to move it forward as it is planned now,” he said. “Any indication from any candidate that muddies the water on this is really a ticket to shut the project down. If this shuts down now this kind of funding won’t be available for years down the road.
“We are not going to build it unless we have all the funding in place and the consultants have assured us through staff that the operational costs will be covered with a tax increase of no more than $50 to $100.”
He is also firm that the KVR in town boundaries needs to remain non-motorized. “A motorized multi-use trail will end up being single use…Hikers, cyclists, parents with kids, seniors, folks walking their dogs, have priority and the people whose homes back onto that trail deserve peace.”
On the subject of Princeton’s Brown Bridge the councillor is “open” to talking about a two-lane replacement, but said he wants to maximize the structure’s tourist potential.
He said he wants “the kind of bridge that will bring people right into town and have them come out of their cars and stand in front of it and get a pictures with it.”