With grandparents that guided her into political activism at a young age and with having had a successful asset management career dealing with large real estate portfolios, Esther Paterson feels she is uniquely qualified to help Oak Bay address the challenges it faces. Paterson plans to run for a council seat in the municipal election this October.
At the age of 10, Paterson was encouraged by her grandmother to write letters to politicians protesting the removal of Indigenous children from their homes in what is now known as the ’60s Scoop. Having been touched personally by a similar experience – Paterson’s grandfather was from Ireland and became one of the Home Children who were forced from their homes and sent to work camps in Scotland – the family was painfully aware of how wrong it was.
“It taught me that if you are certain about something, it is important to take a stand,” said Paterson. “If one person is treated unfairly, it can reach out and grab all of us if we don’t take a stand. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but if you persevere, sooner or later the truth will come out.”
When Paterson, who moved to Oak Bay in 2009 after retiring, became aware of the municipality’s aging infrastructure and the lack of reserve funds in the budget, she felt there was a problem.
Paterson’s background in asset management gives her specialized insight into Oak Bay’s infrastructure and financial demands. She worked as a commercial real estate professional in Winnipeg for over 25 years with James Richardson & Sons.
“Working for the Richardsons, with their commitment to long-term thinking and building long-term relationships, you have a very different attitude in how you collaborate with people on what you want to get done,” said Paterson. “It’s about fairness. It’s about looking after divergent interests. You have to be able to, in an unbiased manner, understand what those goals are and find a way forward that is a win-win for both sides.”
With having bought, sold, developed, and managed properties, Paterson has experience with fiscally responsible financial planning, large project development, and risk management. In that work, she had to balance the interests of both owners and customers and can see an issue from many different perspectives.
“Sitting in council meetings, when staff say things, I understand perhaps more clearly than others, what that sentence they are saying means in reality. So I can understand what their role and responsibility is and what they are facing,” said Paterson.
To see more about Esther Paterson’s work, concerns, and philosophy go to esther4council.com.