A longtime advocate for child and family services in the West Shore and the region, NDP MLA hopeful Mitzi Dean decided to add her name to the race in Esquimalt-Metchosin in an attempt to make change happen.
“I felt it was a structural issue, a systemic issue that needs to change,” she told the Gazette. “I wanted to be able to do something to serve my community and provide more input.” Having worked or volunteered in community social services and as a social worker for more than 30 years, she wants to draw on those experiences in a bigger way. “Over the years I’ve seen things get harder. People are struggling, even though they’re working really hard,” said Dean, best known as executive director for Pacific Centre Family Services Association in Colwood. “We have 1,600 people using our services every day.”
While a political newcomer, Dean has become acutely aware of the political process having served on or chaired many advisory committees or boards over the years. As an MLA, she would hope to help address the challenges of affordability in the region.
While Dean spends the majority of her working hours in the riding, she also calls Metchosin home. One of the things that attracted her to the area is the availability of public outdoors spaces. “I love spending time with my family.” Whether that’s cycling on the Galloping Goose Trail, spending time at Matheson Lake in Metchosin or exploring one of the region’s numerous beaches, much of that family time is spent with her daughter, who celebrates her seventh birthday soon. “She can probably name more of the indigenous species than I can,” Dean joked. On a more serious note, she added, “I really think about her future … The government makes choices that will influence and that will impact her future and her children’s futures.”
That desire to protect the region’s natural beauty may have stemmed from one of her first adventures on the Island. When Dean and her husband first moved to the region, they lived aboard their boat. One winter, the region was hit by a heavy snowfall. Dean remembers cooking in the galley and looking with disbelief at the snow drifts surrounding the boat. “There was a duck walking out on the ice,” she said with a laugh, adding that everyone had told her how mild Victoria’s winters were.
“Once you’ve lived on a boat you see the community a little differently … You can’t put that coastline at risk.”