Michael Grenier has no intention of becoming an also-ran in Kamloops-North Thompson.
“I want to get involved to win,” he said the day after declaring his intention to seek the B.C. Liberal Party nomination in competition with Mayor Peter Milobar and Steve Puhallo, manager of the North Shore Business Improvement Association.
While it’s his first crack at politics, the man behind Tobiano made it clear he’s no stranger to the workings of regional and provincial governments.
Through the years — drawing together the components of what was once known as the Six Mile Ranch project — he’s dealt directly with various departments. He's no longer associated with the development.
Despite his place of residence, overlooking Kamloops Lake at Tobiano in Kamloops-South Thompson (the electoral boundary runs down the middle of the lake), he feels well acquainted with affairs in the riding to the north. Grenier has owned a home at Sun Peaks since 2003, so technically he has a residence in the North Thompson, but that’s not essential, he added.
“I think it’s how well you can represent the area,” he said. “If you live in the area, it makes you that much more connected to the region.”
Economic development — not just administering it but leading it — is clearly central for Grenier, who made his announcement at Kamloops Airport with specific proposals in mind.
He gets passionate when speaking about the potential surrounding the airport. As it stands, the region is under-served by airlines and he wants to push for change.
Kamloops and region are under-served by Canadian carriers, he contends.
“We don’t have airlines flying here because they now residents will drive to Kelowna,” he said. “We want our share of that business.”
He’s offering a four-pronged strategy:
- Enhance aviation career programs in conjunction with TRU, including aircraft maintenance and pilot training.
- Declare Kamloops Airport Canada’s first “cabotage-approved” airport, which would bring in more international flights.
- Declare an airport free-trade zone to expand the market for value-added manufacturing in the city.
- Add an airport hotel to encourage regional travellers and keep overnight stays in Kamloops.
Grenier distinguishes between administrators and leaders, categorizing himself among the latter.
"This is a nomination period for ideas," he said. "We can do better for the riding if we can encourage and illuminate good ideas."
Originally from Toronto, Grenier settled in Kamloops 20 years ago, inspired by the untapped potential of Kamloops Lake in terms of recreationally based real estate. He and his wife Doreen have four children. He's a B.C. Liberal member and belongs to the federal Conservative Party as well. The airport cabotage issue was raised and adopted as a policy at the Conservative's convention in June as a means of increasing airline choice for Canadians.