When Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, Brad Layton said he knew he had to step up.
“I was worried about whether we [were] going to get somebody who knows the system and is passionate about it. So I decided I’ll run,” Layton said.
Layton has been a part of the Village of Telkwa council since 2011 . Layton served as acting deputy mayor when Repen went on medical leave earlier this year. He is also one of the board of directors for the North West Regional Hospital District.
Layton is competing with Telkwa Senior Housing Society president John McDivitt to become mayor.
Layton said one of his priorities as mayor will be to fix the water lines and sewers. The water lines are reaching the end of their life cycle, Layton said, and need to upgraded. Issues with downstream piping, looping systems and sewers also needed be addressed, the mayoral candidate said.
Fixing the piping problem will also help with amount chlorine that gets into the village’s water, Layton said.
He added in order to pay for all these upgrades, Telkwa will have to rely on funding from the provincial government.
“We don’t have the money to play with that other communities have,” Layton said.
Layton said as mayor he will make sure the Province understands the financial struggles a “bedroom community” like Telkwa faces.
Bedroom community are suburbs where the majority of residents commute to a neighbouring city for work, leaving less business and industry tax dollars to be collected.
“The Province needs to recognize that we can’t have 10 people on staff writing grants or go after the same grants as Smithers or Prince George,” Layton said.
“We have four in-office staff that have to do everything from finance, payroll, bylaws, and we also have to have them write our grants. So how do you compete with a community that can have two or three full-time economic development and grant writers?”
Layton said he will push the Province for a funding mechanism that will level the playing field for communities like Telkwa.
Economic development will be another priority for Layton if elected. Layton said with the soon-to-be built water tower the village will actually be able to accommodate more businesses. Layton said he will promote the benefits of Telkwa to businesses at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention.
“We need to grow,” Layton said. “We need to get a broader tax base.”
Layton believes having more recreational activities for children and teens in Telkwa is vital to the growth of the community.
“That’s going to be [one of] my high priorities in the next four years,” Layton said. “Get some funding, get some groups going … to start getting some of these opportunities in our community.”
Layton also stressed he will never take a shortcut to solve any issues he may face as mayor.
“In the next four years I will not agree to or vote in favour of band-aid solutions,” Layton said “Things need to be built for the future. If we get a choice to do something that’s going to do good for 10 years or is going to suit the community for 50 years, I’ll be going for the 50-year solution at all times.”