Mountain biking helped lure the city’s new director of planning to Salmon Arm.
Gary Buxton, officially the city’s Director of Planning and Community Services, was familiar with the community before applying for his new job, thanks to the Salty Dog Enduro.
He and his spouse came to Salmon Arm’s popular mountain-biking race seven or eight times when they lived in Canmore, Alta. He participated every time, she about four. They love biking.
Then they moved to Squamish about eight years ago.
Buxton described his last eight years in Squamish as “incredibly busy” with the community growing by leaps and bounds. He said although he’s been in land-use planning and related positions in municipal government for 25 years, the Salmon Arm job offered a challenge that’s a little different.
“I don’t want to move to any community just to get a job, I want to go work in a community that interests me,” he added.
He and his wife are looking forward to “lake life and Interior life.” He suspects they’ll take up kayaking.
“We’re not motor-boat people. I’m not good with things with engines,” he smiled.
In Squamish, Buxton’s job was general manager so he also oversaw the engineering and public works department.
The position in Salmon Arm is slightly different than it was when it was called the Director of Development Services. Along with planning, building and bylaws, emergency management and social well-being will be part of his portfolio.
Regarding social well-being, he said it’s liaising with non-profits and social services.
“So my portfolio has shifted at the margins, but the planning is my core. I’m a registered professional planner so that’s my core practice.”
In Squamish, Buxton’s position also included the environment and climate change portfolios, so he is familiar with those areas.
He has also been “sort of the affordable housing department,” with a background in housing policy and planning. He sees affordable housing ownership is an issue in town.
“Not as severe as in the past two communities where real estate was outrageous, stupidly expensive. It’s just ridiculously expensive here,” he said.
He’s also been told rentals are difficult.
“So there are planning tools we can pick up and use to encourage the rental market,” he said, adding he’s encouraged it’s not as bad as the previous places he’s lived.
Buxton was born in England, met his wife in London and came to Canada in 1988.
They just purchased a house in the community, thanks to equity coming from a more expensive housing market. Their kids live in Edmonton and are married with children.
He expects he’ll be getting to know the bike shop in Salmon Arm.
“I sold my fat bike when I moved to Squamish and now I’m wondering if I need to get another one. I had a fat bike in Canmore but everyone told me it never snows in Squamish. And every year we were there it snowed and the snow would be around for a month.”
“My next car might be an electric bike,” he added. “I timed it last night – it’s an eight-minute ride from my new home to city hall.”
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our daily newsletter.