Serving You: Erin Hemmens
Nanaimo city councillor Erin Hemmens
You & Me BC
March 7th, 2022
In this series, we talk with elected representatives from across BC, getting to know them and the issues they care about most.
This time we chat with Erin Hemmens: Nanaimo city councillor, public health advocate, and mountain biker.
Erin Hemmens Quick Facts:
Hero: Margaret Atwood
Favourite location: Pipers Lagoon
Hobbies: Mountain biking, soccer, hanging out with my kids
Pets: Two cats (Ivan and Levi) and four chickens
Currently watching: Danish crime shows
Favourite food: Burritos
Interesting fact: I did my public health practicum in South Africa
How did you become involved in politics?
Erin: I was working as a community coroner before being elected, and was also really anchored in the women’s health community and increasing access to health care when I'd lived in Halifax.
Basically, I loved my community, got into politics as a result, and it went from there.
What do you consider the most important issue for Nanaimo?
Erin: I look at things from a growth lens, and the issues we need to solve, like homelessness and poverty, come along with growth.
Nanaimo has an interesting history with growth, because we're easy to access from major cities and get many people passing through. It's caused confusion about who we are, so we're still finding our identity and deciding how much to expand and what our density should be.
The city's health and housing task force is something I've been heavily involved in, and it's helped me learn so much about homelessness and housing issues.
It's also important for us to support initiatives which bring people together. One thing we're working on is seed funding to increase opportunities for collaboration among local organizations and businesses which serve the community.
What are your goals for 2022?
Erin: I want to keep working on to increase local collaboration, and to support Nanaimo's economic development. There are many projects in the works and the council has a lot of balls in motion, and I think this year we’ll see many of them come to fruition.
Erin has lead initiatives to celebrate women in leadership
How do you stay connected to the community outside of city hall?
Erin: The decisions council make impact me and my family, because I live in Nanaimo - it's not like I'm a councillor during the day, and then leave the community and exist outside it at night.
I shop at the local grocery store, go to my son's soccer practices here, am involved with my kids' schools, and as part of being a community member am always available to constituents.
What's special about Nanaimo to you?
Erin: Aw, so much - Nanaimo's a gem. The people who love Nanaimo love it deeply. A lot of people from outside just see it as a place you drive through to get somewhere else, but it's so much more than that.
There's amazing geography and mountains, and great weather. When you get here and meet the people, there's such a genuine and deep love, anchored in blue-collar roots.
Anything to add?
Erin: I just want to add that I think a lot about the tone of public discourse these days. As folks are feeling nervous and anxious about change, how we talk to each other, debate, and share ideas is going to be so important.
To get in touch with Spencer van Vloten, editor of You & Me BC, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org