Smithers election: Ryan Zapisocki

Council candidate Ryan Zapisocki’s answers on a variety of topics.

I came to Smithers 25 years ago for work, and my heart has been here ever since. I moved here with my family 12 years ago and bought a home to set down roots. I’ve received my education in wildlife biology, natural resource management, park management and tourism from the U of A and UNBC. I have been working in silviculture and forestry consistently for the last 25 years. I spend much of my work life and spare time in the forests and mountains surrounding us. I have two teenagers who are my whole world, and I hope to make them proud, and leave them with a better world to live in.

I have no political experience, but I am interested in Municipal government because I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I feel like there are opportunities to make direct positive changes in our community.

We suffer from the challenges of providing enough affordable housing. A common theme I hear from the community, friends and family is how difficult it is to find homes here. I really like the idea of carriage homes and narrow homes, and I hope that if I make it on council I can play a part in a collaborative, and innovative, approach to solve our housing shortage.

I do support the new library/art gallery proposal as it is needed and will be another healthy draw to our community. It will further enhance our vibrant downtown and main street. Visiting friends and family love reminding me how lucky we are to have such a welcoming and active community.

Smithers truly is a unique town in the north. We have a thriving base in arts, recreation and tourism, strong forest industry, diverse local business core, a healthy mix of religion and cultural backgrounds, and we are a key part of a transportation corridor from the rest of Canada to the coast.

Infrastructure is a key component to all communities, and it is less glamorous than big showcase projects like the library/art gallery, but it is equally, or even more important to the health of our community. We still have much work in maintaining the infrastructure we already have, as well as continued improvements. For example, we will need to continue improving our drainage systems, paving our streets, and planning for future emergencies such as floods or fires.

With the big announcement of LNG as well as potential increases in rail and highway transportation, we will be provided an opportunity to grow our town and businesses. With that will come further pressure on our housing challenges, which will coincide with less available people to fill the gaps of an employee shortage for our local businesses. This is not unique to our community, as I have been sitting in on conference calls with a forest industry advocacy group dealing directly with this. Across the province there appears to be a worker shortage. We need to find ways to retain people as well as entice them to make this their home. It is our responsibility to plan for all the positive and negative repercussions of growth in our community.

The legalization of marijuana has been a major discussion point of late. I want to be clear that I am not an advocate for the use of cannabis beyond medical and therapeutic purposes, but I’m also realistic as to what our role is on a municipal level. This was a federal decision to legalize Marijuana, and on a community level we need to be prepared to deal with it. It is important to mitigate a safe plan for our community as to how and where it may be sold in the future, as well as a safe strategy for where it can be used. We are beyond having debates about legalization itself. It’s time to acknowledge that marijuana is here, and it’s our responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy environment for it. Let’s wisely use any taxes and revenue to ensure we provide adequate education, research, outreach, and policing.

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