John Buikema

Smithers election: John Buikema

Council candidate John Buikema’s answers on a variety of topics.

My family moved from Winnipeg to the Bulkley Valley in 1999, a move that allowed me to become the principal of Bulkley Valley Christian School. I have been a teacher and/or school administrator for 31 years. For the last 3 years, I have been employed at Todd Larson & Associates, an accounting firm in Smithers. I’ve been on the Smithers Library Board the last 2 years. Approximately 5 years ago, I had opportunity to volunteer at Broadway Shelter and also worked there for a summer doing some vacation relief. I have frequently held leadership positions at Smithers Christian Reformed Church. My political experience is limited, but I believe that I’ve had a wide variety of life experiences.

Serving on Town Council is something that has appealed to me for a number of years, but now I’m in a season of life where I can pursue this “dream”. I have attended a number of Town Council meetings in the last year, and find it fascinating to see the wide variety of issues that “cross the council table”.

If I were to be elected to Town Council, a few of my priorities would be:

1. To work at making the Library/Art Gallery Project a reality: I love the idea of a collaborative project between the Art Gallery and the Library because both organizations have limited facilities at the present time. The proposed plans for a new building would greatly enhance the services they can offer to our community, it would revitalize the end of Main Street, and it could serve as a wonderful center for community life.

2. To increase dialogue with the local business community: In speaking with some members of the local business community, I sense occasional frustration with Council decisions and with the level of red tape. Perhaps, increased communication can address some of these concerns.

3. To keep taxes at affordable levels: Taxes are crucial to the functioning of our town. However, it is the duty of Council to ensure that public funds are spent as carefully as possible so that unnecessary burdens are not placed on local taxpayers. The challenge is to try to spend public money as if it were your own.

4. To maintain basic infrastructure, and where possible enhance it: If basic infrastructure is not faithfully maintained, an infrastructure deficit will occur. This only leads to increased costs down the road. Regular repairs, replacement etc. are crucial to avoid such a deficit. It is also important to improve infrastructure wherever it’s financially feasible. The new Library/Art Gallery Project would be a perfect example of enhancing the infrastructure of our town.

5. To ensure that Smithers is a safe community: Some residents do not feel that Smithers is as safe as it could be. While public safety is a complex issue, it is important to not ignore issues of basic safety.

In pointing out the challenges/priorities listed above, I believe it is crucial to never lose sight of the fact that the strengths of Smithers far outweigh the challenges. And in my mind, the greatest strength is the many wonderful people that have decided to call Smithers their home, and who invest their time and energies into making our small town such a special and unique community!

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