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On the phone with paramedic John Bignell, District 12 

The active volunteer says there’s lots to fix in the district, and he’s ready to get the area back on track.

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When it comes to why he chose to run for District 12 (Timberlea–Beechville–Clayton Park–Wedgewood), John Bignell thinks back to his first time volunteering in his community, saying it was “kind of a catalyst” for him. The 45-year-old father of two volunteered with the Wooden River Environment Watershed Organisation in the ‘90s. He was also a key player in developing and maintaining the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail, a 30km trail in Timberlea.

“Seeing the evolution of our community go from some ideas, to community groups coming together saying, ‘we’ve got a great concept here, so let’s make it happen,’” Bignell says. “I look at being a volunteer, and kind of building on that momentum—saying ‘you know what, I could do a lot as a volunteer, but I could do even more if I’m a councillor.’”

He says there are a lot of unaddressed concerns in his district, and he’s ready to get the area “back on track.” Perhaps not surprisingly for this literal trailblazer, connecting the area’s trails is at the top of his campaign priorities.

“We have a lot of trails that kind of go to nowhere,” says Bignell. “The long-term vision is when you look at alternative ways to transport, and alternative ways to get to point A to point B, we have an amazing network but we really need to start connecting the dots.”

Bignell has worked for nearly three decades as an advanced care paramedic—those paramedics have more medical training than typical first responders—and founded the Nova Scotia Paramedic Society. Other groups he’s involved with include the St. Margaret’s Bay Water Quality Committee, the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society, the Halifax Amateur Radio Club and the Honey Bee Society of Halifax. Yeah, he’s passionate about beekeeping.

“I realize this is not on the radar of any councillor, but I think there’s a great opportunity to really talk about food security and education,” he says.

Bignell believes more education is needed when it comes to knowing where our food comes from and knowing how to grow our own food. He’s also currently working on forming a group that would be responsible for planting fruits and vegetables in unused community garden plots, such as the BLT Community Garden in Lakeside.

Whether it’s figuring out ways to feed people or sharing an interest in radio, Bignell says he’s a critical thinker and someone who wants to get things done. He has community ties through his volunteer work, and problem-solving skills through his years of paramedic service. However, he says it’s not just about what he can bring to the table as a councillor, but what he’s going to do when he’s at that table.

“There’s things that need to be done, and a councillor with the right leadership will make sure they get done.”

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