Since moving from Victoria to Houston the new corporate services officer says he is getting into local politics and winter hobbies for the first time.
Chris Sandve, new corporate service officer for the District of Houston, says he has been involved in politics since he was 15 years old and was excited to move from provincial to municipal government.
“I’ve always kind of wanted to get into municipal government because in provincial government you are one of thousands, whereas in local government it’s a smaller team and you can get involved in more areas,” Sandve said.
“You get to see the results of your work on a day to day basis because you are helping the community that you are in,” he said, adding that he’s always thought municipal government was the type of work he wanted to be in.
As Houston’s corporate services officer, Sandve says he basically looks after bylaws and zoning requirements, provides support to council and keeps their correspondence organized, as well as works with district personnel, writes reports and assists CAO Linda Poznikoff with tasks.
Sandve says the work hasn’t been hard to adjust to because a lot of it is similar to things he has done previously.
Having grown up in Port Coquitlam, Sandve volunteered with the local MLA when he was 15 and got involved in the constituency association, helping out with the MLA campaign, he said.
After that he volunteered with the B.C. Young Liberals for a couple of years and became president, he said.
When he graduated from high school, Sandve went to Simon Fraser University and got his Bachelors in Business Administration before getting hired as the regional organizer for the B.C. Liberal party, helping plan events and fund raisers and supervising volunteers.
After about a year and a half, Sandve was hired as executive assistant to George Abbott, minister of education at the time, and soon after he became ministerial assistant to Mary Polak, first when she was minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation and then when she was minister of transportation and infrastructure, Sandve said.
Sandve says that while working, he is doing distance courses for a post-bachelors diploma in public administration which he will finish in May.
“Government is government in a lot of ways,” he said, adding that the challenge is getting a sense of the institutional history of Houston, what goes on in town, why things are done a certain way, and what big projects are going on.
But if the job is similar, the town is not; yet Sandve says he, his wife Kirsten and their two basset hounds London and Lily found it quite easy to settle into the “nice, quiet little town,” which was their first impression of Houston.
Sandve says the biggest challenge for them is getting used to the winter weather and snow.
“In Victoria, most days you can go outside and it doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing, you can deal with it, whereas here it’s not uncommon that you open your door and it’s minus 15 and there’s ice all over the car,” said Sandve.
And the adjustments to the winter weather don’t stop there.
Asked about his hobbies, Sandve says he likes walking and hiking with the dogs, kayaking and playing a bit of soccer, but he paused when asked about winter hobbies.
“Winter hobbies? Not so much,” he said, laughing and adding that they will probably get some now.
He and his wife are talking about trying out cross country skiing, but for now Sandve says his work adjustments are taking up his focus.
Asked what he is looking forward to, Sandve says that one of the things is just learning local government.
“I’m excited about this position because it’s a good chance to get to know what it takes to run municipal government and what’s involved,” he said.
The other thing Sandve says he is excited about is the change of moving to a new community, and he says he is really hoping to get to know the community, understand what people are looking for, become a more integral part of the district’s work in improving the town.
“I’m happy to be here. It’s been a big move for both of us so we’re excited about it,” Sandve said.