Lorne Benson

Smithers election: Lorne Benson

Council candidate Lorne Benson’s answers on a variety of topics.

I was born and raised in Smithers. My work experience began here with my first part time job at the age of 13. Since then I have progressed through a succession of career choices, leading to retirement in 2015. My work and volunteer experience has included various leadership roles, including the promotion of risk mitigation programs in the region. My experience includes operations management, strategic planning, building construction & design, and local government leadership by way of programs offered through ICBC, the Insurance Institute of BC, UBC and the Local Government Leadership Association. More recently I have also run for and been elected to Smithers Council twice. Now, with being semi-retired, I have chaired the Town’s Advisory Planning Commission (ACP) from 2016 to 2018.

I see two fundamental priorities for council:

1) Over the past 2 decades there has been a national trend whereby municipalities are pressured to broaden their scope of operations beyond core services, adding duplication with respect to provincial and federal responsibilities. Small rural communities do not have the capacity or the tax base to continue on this path. Council has to focus on delivery of core services. This includes balancing the budget without defaulting to tax increases, especially now as the cost to borrow is also increasing.

2) Access to and then remaining within residential housing is difficult for all, but especially for young people just starting out and for retirees now getting by on reduced incomes. Residential property tax, like the cost of maintenance, heating and mortgage financing, also determines the affordability of housing. Municipalities do not directly affect the cost of materials for construction, nor the residential resale market. However, municipalities do influence planning, and they control their bottom line. This directly affects the cost of property taxes and so the affordability of housing.

In addition to concentrating on core services, economic development also provides for a more diverse and stable tax base. Smithers is a singularly unique amenity community along the Highway 16 corridor. The long term business model is to sustain and build on this success, ensuring that Smithers continues as a place where people can find investment and employment options, raise families and remain into their retirement years.

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