Inside, high in the rafters overhead rest the remains of an ancient First Nations canoe, a relic from the distant past. The rustic interior doesn’t seem to have chnged much since the ’80s – 1880s that is.
It might actually be easier to track Ms Hailey down at her day job as owner of a Sidney-based business, ’A Paddle in the Park Kayaking’. She confesses to starting the business in a somewhat unorthodox manner.
“I wanted my own business so I looked on Craig’s list. I found a lady who was looking for a business partner. She wanted to run a kayaking business but didn’t have the money to buy all the kayaks and the docks … It was all done in a bit of a rush – there was another offer on the dock so we had to move really quickly.”
It was a great decision. “I’ve got the best job in the world. People actually pay me money to take them out on tours and show them how to do what I love doing.” The business is also a very good fit for Graham, who, in addition to kayaking, has a diving ticket; a skill, he jokes, that comes in handy for rescuing valuables that fall off the dock into the water. While Chris has taken a number of extended kayaking trips, Melissa doesn’t push it. “I’m usually dealing with raw beginners so we mostly just paddle around the harbour and the parks.”
Sidney Council is not Councillor Hailey’s first foray into politics. The Councillor credits her father for her interest in politics. “It was my father’s fault. After dinner we would talk and debate… After he discovered talk radio he would sit there yelling at the radio. I always told him he should do something about it.”
Finally taking her own advice Hailey ran for office in North Cowichan, winning a seat on the council at the age of 22 as Canada’s youngest female politician. Not that it’s a competition, but Graham was first elected to Central Saanich Municipal Council as a teenager, earning distinction as Canada’s youngest politician.
Both admit that politics and especially elections can be crazy, stressful, and highly emotional with lots of pressure. So why would they put themselves through it?
For Melissa it’s pretty clear. “… I’m making the world a better place one fire hydrant at a time. It’s about making a difference. [It] gives you an opportunity to be a catalyst for something better.”
For Chris it’s not so straightforward. “My family roots are here. They settled Saanich and there is a deep connection with this community. There are a lot of reasons why I ran, but that’s probably the main reason. I wanted to help and leave things at least as good if not better than I found them.”
For now Chris has put his name in for a position on the Advisory Planning Commission in Central Saanich, but Graham says it is up to the mayor and council. Would he run for office again? He shrugs. “Three years is a long time. It takes a lot out of you.”
As for Melissa, she’s also very clear about what she wants to achieve on council. “I want openness… I want people to get involved; to put forth suggestions to Council. If there are issues and problems, bring them to our attention so we can find solutions.” Melissa wants to see computers used to bring government and people together for better communication.
Meanwhile Melissa has been threatening to write; she even has a number of half-finished novels on the go. Yes Melissa, but the real trick is to write the other half. Perhaps a romance or tale of espionage set in exotic Dubai.