In anticipation of the federal election on Oct. 19, BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko and his staff in Castlegar and Oliver are closing up both constituency offices.
House of Commons regulations require MP offices be vacated by election day. Wednesday is the final day for drop-in services at both constituency locations, to give staff time to sort, pack and move.
“It has been an honour to serve the constituents of BC Southern Interior over the past nine years,” Atamanenko said. “My staff and I have enjoyed dealing with constituents on a daily basis, as we have endeavoured to assist them with matters concerning the federal government.”
Atamanenko said he and his staff are also grateful to people in federal departments such as Service Canada for their professionalism and assistance.
“Thanks to the federal offices we have dealt with, we have been able to provide constituents with information and assist them with problem solving.”
Working for an opposition MP in such a huge riding can have its challenges, but it can also be a rewarding experience., according to Lilly Zekanovic, who has been Atamanenko’s Oliver constituency assistant since 2009.
She has travelled to Princeton each month to offer support and referral services there. “It has been a great pleasure to make a difference in people’s lives,” she says. “I gain personal satisfaction in knowing we have done our best under the circumstances.”
Atamanenko’s Castlegar constituency assistant, Gail Hunnisett, agrees.
“In spite of the challenges of recent years, working with the people of the West Kootenay-Boundary-Similkameen has been immensely satisfying for me,” she says.
“Whether simply providing information, helping individuals to navigate the intricacies of various federal agencies or liaising with other levels of government to retain and improve services in our BC Southern Interior communities, it has been my pleasure to assist constituents.”
“If I can help a person feel better or more informed at the end the day, I’ve done my job,” says Castlegar constituency assistant Margaret Tessman. “Sometimes that just involves listening, sometimes I can make a phone call and sometimes a referral is necessary. Alex has led by example, in that he has taken everyone’s concerns seriously, and has expected his staff to do the same.”