Josie Osborne has officially moved from local to provincial government as Mid Island – Pacific Rim’s new MLA tendered her resignation as Tofino’s mayor last week.
“It has been a privilege and honour to serve the people of Tofino as mayor since January 2013, and to work with three successive Councils. Each Council has been incredibly committed to excellent governance and service, and I have truly enjoyed working with each of the 11 individual councillors who have been in office while I’ve been mayor,” Osborne wrote in her letter of resignation, reviewed and accepted by Tofino’s municipal council on Nov. 24. “Together with a very dedicated staff at the District of Tofino, we have undertaken so many important projects and initiatives. I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done with the shared goal of building a strong and resilient community, making Tofino a better place to live for all.”
She said the highlight of her tenure was the “collegiality, respectful tone, and collaborative style of leadership” in council chambers.
“Serving in public office is not easy work, but our ability to work together really stands out during challenging times and has enabled us—as Council, staff, and the community-at-large—to tackle difficult, persistent and complex problems,” she wrote. “I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Tofino and the region in my new role as MLA, and to continuing to work with you and the District of Tofino. I thank all of you—and the councillors who served with me previously—and I wish you every success as you continue to work hard for Tofino.”
Council accepted the resignation during their Nov. 24 meeting, held via Zoom-based video conference, which Osborne attended.
“The thing I think that means the most to me is the way that we’ve been able to work together over the last seven-and-a-half years of my time on council and the tone of collaborative work supporting each other and the respectful decision making environment and being able to work for people in Tofino using that as the platform and the way that we conduct our business,” she said. “When you look around British Columbia and we look at other municipal councils and local governments, I know that in Tofino we have so much to be proud of in the way that we conduct ourselves and the way that we do our business. It’s been an honour and privilege. I’m really sad and sorry to leave, but I am also really happy to be able to continue to work with you in new ways as the MLA and I’m really looking forward to the next four years at least of my time and hoping that we’ll still be able to do an incredible amount of business together.”
Tofino’s acting mayor Britt Chalmers read a statement thanking Osborne for her service.
“Thank you for tendering your resignation in person and giving us the opportunity to speak our congratulations and our thanks,” she said before pausing as she became overwhelmed with emotion.
“You provided unfaltering leadership to this community on a daily basis. Your availability to everyone, your communication and your reputation of Tofino on provincial and sometimes national scales has been consistent and admirable.”
She added that the town’s councillors, especially novice ones who entered their first terms during Osborne’s tenure, benefited greatly from the mayor’s leadership style.
“Speaking for the newer members of council, your support as we joined this organization cannot be understated and has proved invaluable to all of us. You’ve helped to create and foster an environment of respectful, thoughtful and educated discourse and this is an incredible and rare legacy that we remain mindful of to keep alive and well,” she said. “It has been often repeated that it is bittersweet to have you moving from mayor to MLA, but we know so well that the tenacity and drive you will bring to your new job and how we as council and community will continue to benefit. We are grateful that you are only a phone call away…Congratulations MLA Josie Osborne. We wish you the best of luck in your new position.”
Osborne served three consecutive terms as mayor after first earning the seat running unopposed in a 2013 municipal by-election following the resignation of then-mayor Perry Schmunk. She retained her seat running unopposed again in 2014. In 2018 she faced two challengers for the position and received a whopping 85 per cent of the vote with 792 votes, defeating Jarmo Venalainen, 69 votes, and Omar Soliman, 52 votes.
Tofino is expected to hold a byelection in the New Year to elect a new mayor.