I’m currently serving on Smithers Council. Growing up in Kitimat, Smithers was always a destination for our family for skiing and hockey. Since 2004, Smithers has been my home. I have worked in a wide variety of sectors for industry, not-for-profits and government. Currently, I utilize my engineering degree and facilitation skills as a self employed consultant and I assist my wife, Christine, who owns are operates Two Sisters Cafe. My family and I pursue a healthy lifestyle eating good food, being physically active and spending quality time together. I’ve coached soccer and hockey for several years.
Top priorities for council
I envision Smithers to continue to be a community for people who want a high quality of life for themselves and their families. I see council pursuing a mix of priorities so that we continue to develop a strong community that works for many people. This mix includes economic, social-cultural, environment and infrastructure. As a current councillor I have supported a blend of priorities that have resulted in strengthening of our community. Two key governance approaches I prioritize are 1) proactive community engagement and 2) undertaking thorough decision making in order to optimize life-cycle costs. For example, I always consider the maintenance/operating/replacement costs when planning and designing projects.
3) LIBRAY/ART GALLERY
I support the current concept design and business case for a new Library/Art Gallery. In depth planning has been completed regarding cultural infrastructure, similar to the level of planning that previous councils did for the airport modernization project that this past council undertook. I support a public referendum for a loan that the Town may need to cover our 10% of the capital costs.
Smithers’ vibrant downtown is unique compared to rural towns across Canada. As a councillor I have worked to ensure that long term viability of our downtown. Much of these changes were recommendations provided by our Small Business Task Force. In the age of on-line shopping we need to shore up the support for our business community.
I support increasing the diversification of Smithers’ housing stock in order to meet the housing needs of all our citizens. Currently, some people can’t find adequate housing and this weakens our community. I support the following: 1) Creation of a Housing Task Force to prioritize actions for the Town to pursue, 2) Work with Smithers based not-for-profit housing societies to secure provincial and federal housing dollars to build more housing units, 3) renew our Official Community Plan (OCP) and align our zoning bylaws in order to increase housing options and to build stronger neighbourhoods.
6) CANNABIS LEGALIZATION
I support the protection of community well-being through proper siting of cannabis stores, the regulation of public consumption similar to alcohol, and proactive education. The key is to ensure the protection of youth and the responsible use of cannabis by adults. I support scheduling a review of the regulation of public consumption bylaw in a couple of years in order to adjust to the community’s response.
7) TAXES AND SPENDING
As a family business owner, a residential property owner and Town Councillor I approach spending and taxation as a balancing act with many factors to consider. Municipal governments in Canada only have access to 8% of all tax dollars while the province has downloaded services (ex. emergency services), and we have increasing demand for services from our citizens (ex. more ice time, better snow clearing, ect…). There are solutions such as working with senior levels of governments and getting a greater share of the wealth created by the natural resources that are extracted from our region.
8) CRIME AND SAFETY
Smithers is a relatively safe community. I feel our RCMP detachment has done a good job serving this community and I think they are capable in serving our community well in the years ahead. However, the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women in NWBC is a serious concern that needs the attention from all of us.
There is a need for re-investment in our basic infrastructure. I support well planned renewal, replacement and expansion of our sidewalks, road, and water/sewage/storm water lines. The key to this is have an up-to-date plan. The current council undertook some of this work (ex. we increased the budget for sidewalk maintenance) and we’re ready to make greater investments.
The construction phase of LNG Canada will bring big opportunities and possible stressors to the communities of the north. The Town need to be proactive in order to take advantage of the opportunities and to manage the stresses that may come. In addition, the province has promised greater support for the reduction of carbon emissions in order to meet the provinces legislated emission reductions. The Town would be wise to take advantage of what the province offers to reduce our community’s emissions so that we are part of the global efforts.
11) BUSINESS / WORKER SHORTAGE
Our experience running a small business is that there can be worker shortages at times. The labour market ebbs and flows regarding opportunities for employment. This is influenced by the level of industrial camps in NWBC. An increase in the housing mix/stock/portfolio would make living in Smithers easier and could therefore help ease worker shortages.
It’s my belief that human and community wellbeing is directly tied to the state of the air, water, forests and climate. Issues arise at different scales. Some issues are at neighbourhood/airshed scale (residential wood stoves), some issues are watershed scale (ex. river water quality) and some issues are global (stable climate). As well, our northern lifestyles require functioning ecosystems and sustainable development.
13) SPORTS / RECREATION
I believe that a community which recreates more, not matter what age, will be healthier. I think that the Town can improve how it works with, and partners with, groups to ensure recreation opportunities are available for the greatest number of people.
Tourism is a key economic driver of our community. I support the continued efforts by the town of Smithers and its partners to ensure that we maintain and enhance Smithers and the surrounding area to offer a quality product for tourists from near and far.