Isabella Lee is no stranger to community activism and leadership. It’s been part of who she is for as long as she can remember.
Now Lee is taking what she describes as a youthful enthusiasm and willingness to hit the ground and get things done into the political sphere and has announced that she will run for Oak Bay council in the upcoming municipal election.
Those who know her are not surprised.
Like many young women, Lee attended Girl Guides as a child and, not happy with just participating in the program, she wanted to help make guides even better. She moved up the ranks to become a troop leader and active volunteer with the organization.
The same enthusiasm was evident in her activities in school.
As a student at Willows Elementary she started the Green Team Club and led her peers picking up garbage and learning about the environment.
Years later, at Oak Bay High, she became involved in the Environment Club and re-started the annual Rubber Duck Race, a community event that raises money for the stewardship of Bowker Creek and which had ceased to operate the previous year. She also started the composting program at the school and participated in a host of other environmentally themed events.
“I’ve always felt very strongly about environmentalism and our responsibility to help make the planet a better place,” said Lee.
“It’s not the only issue that concerns me but it is certainly high on the agenda.”
Lee is currently attending the University of Victoria where she is studying sociology.
This year she was elected to the position of Director of Student Affairs, a role that has her overseeing the more than 200 organizations at UVic and helping to coordinate and guide their activities.
She was also elected as a Senator for the University in the Social Sciences Faculty, a position that has seen her working on governance issues at the school.
Asked about the potential of her age working against her as a serious council candidate, Lee is philosophic.
“I understand the question being asked but I’ve lived in this community my whole life and I recognize the issues that affect people of all ages. I know I’m young but I have learned to listen to people’s concerns and have the energy and enthusiasm to do what’s needed to help,” she explained.
“I know, for example, that affordability is an issue for older generations as well as students and the young. Rising costs for hydro, water and taxes are making it more difficult for the average family and impossible for some.”
As a youth leader in the community, Lee has also noted the deterioration of some of the parks and other recreational infrastructure in Oak Bay.
“We have some great parks–no question– but others are really falling apart and for young families in the community, that’s a serious issue. We need to be giving our recreational facilities some TLC,” said Lee.
“Oak Bay has been a great place to grow up, but there is room for improvement and I’m the right person to help get things done. I’ve been getting things done all my life.”