Brian Texmo of Port Hardy might be the hardest person in B.C. to track down for a chat.
West Coast Now caught him, briefly, in between a night of climbing poles in a winter storm to restore power after an outage; family time with his wife and baby son; roaming the backcountry taking photographs and videos; coaching hockey, basketball and boxing – and now attending Port Hardy town council meetings as a newly-elected councillor.
“I’m crazy busy,” he laughs.
Texmo, 35, was born and raised in Port Hardy, where he describes himself as a “skateboard punk” who “grew up fishing, hunting, and playing every sport I could get my hands on.”
At age 18, an electrical company hired him to dig holes for fence posts. “I worked hard, and the company offered me an apprenticeship, “he says.
He completed the training, decided to focus on automated electrical systems, learned coding, and eventually set up his own contracting company.
“I’m the one who comes in to write the programs and maintain the systems. I work on a computer writing programs, telling everything what to do. It’s almost all industrial, including electric motors, valves, tank levels, anything with an automated process,” he explains.
His company, Tex Electric Ltd., currently employs two other journeyman electricians and an apprentice. His clients are industry and government, including a fish processor, B.C. Hydro, and the District of Port Hardy.
In his spare time, Texmo coaches sports for kids at risk. “When I was a kid I was troubled,” he says. “I was a really busy kid, I never stopped, and I needed something to keep me busy.
“I see myself in the kids – it’s good to get them into a gym.” He encourages them to work hard, learn from failures, and keep going, he said.
But two years ago, severe illness brought Texmo to an abrupt stop – and, accidentally, turned him into a photographer, on top of his other roles.
“In October 2020 I got really sick. The doctor was baffled. I ended up seeing a specialist, and I had Lyme disease. I was incredibly sick and weak, and I couldn’t do much physically. But I needed something to get me outdoors, so I’d grab a camera, go for a walk, and take pictures. I realized I loved it,” he recalls.
As his health improved with treatment, he said, he started to invent photo adventures in the areas he grew up hunting and fishing. “Hiking a mountain and staying out all night, waiting for sunset or star shots.”
At first, he simply shared his photos on social media, including Facebook and Instagram, for friends, family, and local community groups.
“But people started hassling me to buy prints, and I started offering canvas and photo prints, and put them on the local buy and sell site.”
He said he has no expectations to “get rich” as a photographer and suffers “imposter syndrome.” But, he added, he does intend to set up a photo website – if he ever finds the time.
Texmo will be short of time for a while. His latest major role is as a councillor for the District of Port Hardy.
He’d never planned on going into politics. But then a local politician asked him to run for council, and he figured that “ Port Hardy could use a young guy on council with some industrial experience, to speak on behalf of young families.”
“I realized, I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be here my entire life, and I care about this community. It would be good to get in and help make decisions,” he says.
Although it was Texmo’s first time running for office, he won the most votes of all district candidates.
What does he plan to do on council?
Texmo said he wants to encourage better education on Indigenous history and culture, and ensure that First Nations are included at the council table, as priorities.
He wants to boost recreation and sports for local kids and promote tourism, which is already becoming Port Hardy’s fastest-growing sector.
But the biggest challenge, he said, is tackling substance abuse, including affordable housing.
“In Port Hardy there’s a lot of alcoholism in our downtown core, and there’s not any place for these people to really go,” he said.“It’s really affecting our town in a lot of ways, from health care to first responders to tourism. The hospital emergency room is always packed.”
He goes on, “The real sad thing for me is that I know a lot of these people. I went to school with them. It hurts to see people in that position. I want to find solutions, including shelters.”
But first, he said, he has to learn the ropes of local government procedures – and legislation. “It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be,” he notes.
“But I’ve made one promise to everybody, that I’m going to do it 110 percent.”