Dan Albas finished one chapter in his political career and started another this week with the Conservative MP elect’s official resignation from Penticton council coinciding with his first trip to Ottawa.
Albas said his two-and-a-half years serving on his hometown’s municipal governing body was an experience he will always value greatly.
“The opportunity to serve the people of Penticton and to be there to help people with some of their concerns, whether on an individual level or on a council level, has been nothing but a privilege,” Albas said from his new office in the nation’s capital. “I certainly appreciated working with the mayor and my fellow council members.
“I encourage anyone who feels they have a passion to make a difference in their community to consider it. It can be a great undertaking and yes it can be challenging at times, but it is also very rewarding.”
Albas said he believes council will continue to build on some of the things it has accomplished, “basically shifting how the city operates, whether in terms of the core service review, operating more efficiently, working on our processes to cut red tape or increasing customer service by offering 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. service.
“There are a lot great things that have happened,” he said. “Everything isn’t perfect yet and there is a long way to go but I trust that my colleagues on council and those that will be our successors in upcoming councils will be up for the task.”
Council’s economic investment zone program — which reduces and delays city taxes and fees in an attempt to stimulate new construction or renovations in targeted city locations, industries and low-income residential developments — was a highlight, said Albas, as was council’s partnerships with the Kiwanis Housing Society and Okanagan College.
But Albas said the biggest privilege for him as a city councillor was getting to work with individual constituents assisting them “with anything from a parking ticket to helping them navigate the system and helping make sure that their City Hall serves them in every capacity that it is supposed to.
“I really enjoyed working with people one-on-one, returning phone calls and getting critical input from the blog and translating some of those ideas into (action and policy),” said Albas.
It is a modus operandi he said he will continue as the new member of Parliament for Okanagan Coquihalla.
“I think it is important to get out there and speak to people on a one-on-one basis and talk to business owners, leaders and local government to find out what the needs and the challenges of the area are,” he said.
“That is why I am going to do things like the MP report, which was something that (former riding MP) Stockwell Day was excellent at doing to make sure that people were kept up-to-date as to his activities and to what was happening both in the riding and in Ottawa.”
Albas said he will also continue to communicate through Twitter and through blogging at his new website: daninottawa.com.
Scheduled to be sworn into his new job next week, Albas said his transition to MP has been a “deeply humbling” one.
“Hearing the Peace Tower ring, coupled with seeing the Canadian flag, was just a very overwhelming experience, as was seeing the flame and the War Memorial Room,” he said. “There is a deep tradition here and I’m looking forward to learning more about the history but also participating in the future.
So far, Albas said he has been to the House and has visited the prime minister’s office.
“I got a chance to hear what some of the thoughts are here. It was a very energized place to be,” Albas said.
“I have met a lot of new friends. People have been very good to me, both from government staff to incoming MPs to incumbent MPs. It is an excellent opportunity. I am energized and ready to go.”