Across the province of B.C., around 35 per cent of councillors in local governments are women.
While parity has yet to be realized in many communities, in the Village of Canal Flats women hold 60 per cent of elected seats representing village residents.
In B.C., the first woman ran for and was elected as an MLA in 1918, just one year after some women were given the right to vote and run in provincial elections.
Today, councillors Anora Kobza, Patricia Reed and Jennifer Noble hold three of five seats on the village’s council. Councillor Justin Stanbury and Mayor Mark Doherty complete the team.
All were elected for the first time in 2022 and have spent the last few months learning as much as they can about local governance and how they can support the community.
Each councillor said they hadn’t initially thought about how few women hold council positions in B.C., but were proud to be able to represent their community.
“My family has been in the village for 80 years,” Kobza said. “To be able to represent current residents as well as generations of my family is something I am proud of. To do it as a woman, when over the decades my family has spent here women’s rights have evolved so much, is humbling.”
Reed, who also grew up in the community, became interested in local government and engaging with the previous council. Now she balances her council position with a busy healthcare career.
“It was important to me to participate in improving our community and ensuring we move forward in a sustainable and transparent way,” Reed said. “I also appreciate the opportunity to be a role model for my daughter, to show her that she can also have a seat at the table and have her voice heard.”
For Noble, running was fueled by a desire to see more engagement between the council, village and residents. Now, with a seat at the table, she has continued to advocate for open discussion.
“It’s important to have a local government that is engaged with those it serves,” she said. “I hope that my participation, as well as our other female councillors, will be inviting for anyone in the town to share their thoughts with us. Canal Flats is made up of a variety of people and it’s great to have variety in elected officials.”