Listings have gone down while the average price for a single-family dwelling in Smithers has gone up to $307,000. Affordable housing was one of the topics at the Smithers forum hosted by the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce and the BC Northern Real Estate Board.

Listings have gone down while the average price for a single-family dwelling in Smithers has gone up to $307,000. Affordable housing was one of the topics at the Smithers forum hosted by the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce and the BC Northern Real Estate Board.

Smithers to decide

Housing, cannabis, safety, taxes and the proposed new library/gallery building debated in Smithers.

Twelve people want to run the Town of Smithers for the next four years.

Those 10 councillor (for six positions) and two mayoral candidates made their case in front of near-capacity Della Herman Theatre crowd last Wednesday, taking questions and debating what the town should be doing — and not doing.

See the full forum:

Last time there was no race for mayor. This time, incumbent mayor and graphic and web design company owner Taylor Bachrach has a challenger with a different vision in IT manager and business owner Randy Bell.

While there were a few differences in how taxpayer money should be spent and what the scope of municipal government, the new library and art gallery building was the big ticket item that saw a clear line drawn.

“I think the first question we have to ask is how much is it going to cost and can we afford it. I grew up in a city that has a very similar plan to what we’re proposing, but that city’s 85,000 people,” said Bell.

“So I’d love to see a new library/gallery, multi-function, but do you want to pay for it. I know there’s funding available, up to 90 per cent, but then we’re on the hook for the rest of it. That’s just the infrastructure building; now what are we going to do for the next 20 years to keep it going, keep paying for it.”

“Over $15 million is not realistic in my opinion.”

Library/gallery support answered by Lorne Benson, Phil Brienesse, Randy Bell and Glady Atrill:

Bell repeated that he wanted to focus on core infrastructure, something Bachrach said has been a focus with more spending dedicated to roads and sidewalks.

Bachrach also took his introduction to speak about the supportive housing project going up at Railway Avenue and Queen Street.

When affordable housing for workers was brought up, he pointed to the new tax break for developers who include residential units in new renovations or builds. Bell stressed the need for infrastructure like sewers, drainage and roads to be ready for any development in town.

Because the format tried to promote discussion and needed to focus on a few candidates, the housing question was directed to council candidates Phil Brienesse Frank Wray, Casda Thomas, Ryan Zapisocki and John Buikema, with Greg Brown and Lorne Benson using rebuttal cards to jump in.

Brienesse said the preparation the Town has done has them ready for BC Housing funding. He also pointed to allowing carriage houses and laneway housing as being ready for a boom. He also supports the idea of developing more narrow lots now not allowed for residential building.

Benson said he helped develop the Official Community Plan passed in 2010 that calls for more density. Stratas and co-op housing are examples of the success from that said Benson, who wants to revisit that plan and make sure it is on track.

Wray agreed with the work already done around housing and the skinny lot idea. He added that taxes are part of the affordable equation, as apartment developers pass on the cost.

Thomas wants to focus on a big picture strategy that looks at zoning, the rule that allows certain types of development on certain land. She said there are too many instances where things are made harder when variances are required.

Zapisocki said the coming LNG workforce will only make things worse, adding this is one of the most demanding problems that has been around for year. He likes the carriage and skinny home ideas, and added the tax break given to business for suites might be something to look at for residents too.

Brown said the biggest opportunity is federal and provincial funding for housing projects. He also said the Business Task Froce came up with specific action that helps, and the community plan is an opportunity.

Buikema said market forces are at work, but the Town has made progress in creating situations for housing. He liked the idea of narrow lots.

Other topics included LNG effect (mayor candidates)

Safety / missing and murdered people (mayor candidates)

Where to spend less (Phil Brienesse, Lorne Benson, Gladys Atrill, Tim Sharp, Frank Wray)

Red tape (Greg Brown, Colin Bateman, Phil Brienesse, Casda Thomas, Frank Wray)

How much to increase taxes for a new library/gallery (Randy Bell, Frank Wray, Lorne Benson, Taylor Bachrach, Gladys Atrill, Colin Bateman)

Cannabis legalization (Colin Bateman, Lorne Benson, Gladys Atrill, Tim Sharp, Greg Brown)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Smithers council and mayoral candidates take questions from media and audience members at the Della Herman Theatre last Wednesday. Chris Gareau photo

Smithers council and mayoral candidates take questions from media and audience members at the Della Herman Theatre last Wednesday. Chris Gareau photo

Just Posted

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)
Gitxsan Nation extends ban for non-Indigenous fishing permit holders across their territory

The move comes after the province backed away from ongoing discussions with Gitxsan chiefs and DFO

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read