Cairine brings proven leadership skills and a record of exemplary public service to her community, the region and the Province, both as a professional, a Municipal Councillor and volunteer. Cairine was elected to Oak Bay Council in 2011 after winding up two terms as a North Saanich Councillor, 2005 to 2011. She served on Oak Bay Council until 2014 when she returned to private life and to the volunteer sector to renew her commitment to public service excellence. She ran again in 2018 and was elected to a four-year term.
Cairine was appointed to the Oak Bay Heritage Commission in 2015 and was Chair from 2016 to 2018, when she stepped down to run in the October 2018 municipal election. As Chair, she provided strong leadership and support to the Commission’s primary role, to promote heritage conservation and preservation and to make recommendations to Council on heritage land use. “Oak Bay is home to some of the most significant and beautiful heritage homes and landscapes in the region; the responsibility of Oak Bay Heritage, therefore, takes on more importance as our community grows and changes. It’s imperative that we work together, as a community and municipality, to make sure that our established, historical neighbourhoods, spaces and places are valued and protected.”
Her work at the regional level was focused on the most vulnerable citizens, the homeless and disenfranchised, as Our Place Society Board Director and former Vice Chair, serving from 2015 to 2018. “During a lifetime of giving back to the communities in which I have lived, my work with Our Place Society stands out as one of the most meaningful and important.”
Cairine’s provincial role as Lay Council Member on the Provincial Council of the College of Applied Biology from 2015 to 2021, was an experience that capitalized on her policy and governance skills. The College is regulator for British Columbia’s professional biologists and biologist technicians, with membership of over 2,200. Cairine also served on two Council Committees, Ethics and Audit and Practice Review. After completing her six-year term, the College appointed her to the Investigation Committee as volunteer member.
During her service as a Council member in two regional communities, she was one of few Council members in the CRD who created a website in 2005 that consistently provided weekly local government, community and regional information to North Saanich and Oak Bay residents. She is a prolific writer who continues to maintain her website, Where We Live: A Voice in the Region, believing that direct outreach and regular communication and information-sharing with residents is key to representing and being accountable to her community.
Cairine has long been an advocate for housing and other important social issues. For example, she earned the respect of her local and regional colleagues when, in May 2014, as an Oak Bay Councillor, Cairine led all thirteen municipalities in supporting her Oak Bay Council resolution, to urge the Province to keep the Victoria Youth Custody Services Centre in View Royal open for young offenders sentenced from Vancouver Island Courts.
Cairine has served on a variety of municipal and regional commissions and committees and co- chaired in 2012, Oak Bay’s first Mayor’s working group on civic engagement. As a result of that work, Oak Bay upgraded its website and made improvements to Council procedures that include:
- public participation during Council meetings;
- informal Committee of the Whole format that welcomes public input on agenda items; and,
- meeting information made more available and accessible through audio/video equipment (webcasting) installed in Council Chambers.
Cairine served as one of three Council representatives on Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan Advisory Committee, served on a search committee to hire a new Chief Administrative Officer for Oak Bay in 2012 and continued to provide advice to the municipality on human resources’ best practices, social policy and labour relations until 2014.
Cairine advocated for regular neighbourhood meetings and using her strong facilitation skills, organized and chaired Oak Bay’s first neighbourhood meeting in November 2012 and again in November 2019. She believes in this type of public engagement and remains convinced that regular public forums and neighbourhood meetings should occur quarterly throughout each year. “We must engage our community in regular dialogue about what issues matter to them. Without community engagement with residents and local organizations, Council simply cannot make well informed and timely decisions.”
As an Oak Bay Councillor, Cairine was appointed as Oak Bay Council Liaison to the following regional bodies:
- Oak Bay Heritage Commission, Heritage Foundation and Archives
- Capital Regional District Arts Committee
- Director, Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association
- Board Member, Royal MacPherson Theatres Society
- Capital Regional District Regional Housing Trust Fund
- Member, Uplands Land Use Committee
- Oak Bay Business Improvement Association
- Oak Bay Tourism Committee
While serving as a two-term North Saanich Councillor between 2005 and 2011, Cairine was appointed Council Liaison to the following:
- Alternate Director, Capital Regional District Board
- Peninsula Agricultural Commission
- Victoria Airport Authority’s Environmental Committee
- Vancouver Island Regional Library Board
- Saanich Peninsula Water/Wastewater Commission
- Regional Housing Trust Fund
- Regional Housing Corporation Board
- Solid Waste Advisory Group
- North Saanich Heritage Commission
- North Saanich Environmental Advisory Commission
Cairine is an alumnus of the University of Victoria, earning a Bachelor of Arts (History) and a Master of Education.
Cairine enjoyed successful and multi-faceted professional careers in the criminal justice system, as private practitioner in divorce and family mediation, in the community college system as a campus administrator and program manager and in the BC government’s post-secondary and K-12 education ministries as senior policy analyst, branch manager and as human resources contractor. Her professional background, combined with an extensive volunteer history at the community, regional and municipal levels, provide her with strong leadership and teamwork skills and a working knowledge of organizational development, contract and program evaluation, program and policy analysis and issues’ management.
Cairine was born and raised in Victoria and her father, the late Arthur Ash, served British Columbia as MLA for Saanich and as Reeve (Mayor) of Saanich from 1952 to 1958 when the family moved to the United States. Cairine returned to Victoria to pursue her post-secondary education at the University of Victoria.
Cairine and husband Fred have lived in Oak Bay on and off since the 1970’s, raising their son Matthew on St. Patrick Street during the 1980’s. Although career demands required them to move away from Oak Bay, Cairine and Fred kept their connections here and returned in 2010 to again make their home here. Cairine and Fred have a large extended family that includes six grandchildren, the youngest of whom are Hadley (6) and Dylan (3).