Chuck Fowler is one of 12 candidates vying for six seats on Fort St. John city council, and one of six new faces looking to upset an incumbent councillor.
Fowler, an employee with Peace Country Filtration, has been active behind the scenes politically, particularly with oil and gas advocacy group Fort St. John For LNG. He's turning his attention to civic politics to be part of the conversations and decisions that will guide the city through industrial growth in the region, with an eye to improve indoor recreation and supporting an increase in grants to non-profits and frontline social agencies.
Alaska Highway News has sent out a questionnaire to all candidates in this year's election, asking them about their experience and priorities, what they think the city should be spending more or less money on, the city's greatest achievements and failures over the last four years, and the biggest challenge in the next four.
Responses are being published as they are received. The answers below have been edited for spelling and grammar only.
Name: Charles Fowler (Chuck)
Neighbourhood: Mile 58
Occupation: Business development
1. Why did you decide to run for council?
I decided to run because I believe in our community and wanted to be a part of the conversation to shape it. The future looks bright for Fort St. John and to be a part of that on the governance level would be an honour.
2. What experience and skills would you bring to council?
I have worked in the oil and gas industry for 14 years, owned and managed businesses in town. In the decision-making process, I look through the lens of industry and business, something I think we need on council. A young working professional with a young family is the embodiment of Fort St. John, we need that representation on council.
3. What would be your top three priorities if elected, and why?
Managing Growth: As council, it’s a significant part of the job to create a framework for managing the growth of the city, be it modest, extreme, or even negative. It’s a broad priority with many parts but important in my opinion.
Indoor Recreation: To attract people, retain them, and keep the people we have, we need to have good facilities. Professionals looking to move here are looking at the whole package. We spend six months with a snow shovel in our hand, quality indoor recreation is a must.
Economic Development: The announcement of LNG brings great opportunity for Fort St. John, we need to ensure we are capturing and capitalizing on this potential growth not just a “fly in, fly out” city.
4. What programs or services should the city spend more on?
I would like to see an increase in funding for the grants awarded annually to non-profits/frontline agencies. These, in many cases, are vital services to the community. Obviously, if you increase funding somewhere you need to find it in the budget, but I think it’s a conversation worth having.
5. What programs or services should the city spend less on?
I don’t think we should name off half-baked ideas for cutting specific program/services. As council, we should seek more efficient ways to deliver the services required to the community. To do that, we should seek the best advice and aim to be continuously improving our spending to services ratio.
6. Would you support raising taxes to support council priorities?
No, we should work within the confines of what we have for revenue to complete our objectives.
7. What should the city do to attract new industry and business?
We can make the ability to do business and invest in our community as painless as possible. Right from your experience at city hall for development purposes, to adequate amenities, to attracting good employees, it all matters.
8. What should the city do to stimulate downtown investment?
Evaluate from a development perspective why investment has not been attracted to downtown. Are we asking to much or missing the mark on development conditions for investors to get their required rate of return? There needs to be a catalyst to get the downtown going, be it tax incentives or something else. Once we get it going, it will be a cascading effect to other business to develop downtown.
9. What has been the city's greatest achievement over the last four years?
The Money Sense ranking of best place to live in B.C. Like any city, we have our challenges, but to be on the radar and rank higher than Squamish and Whistler is an achievement.
10. What's has been the city's greatest failure over the last four years?
Our ability to communicate the city's vision to the people living in Fort St. John. There have been improvements in the process, but it remains a challenge.
11. What's the biggest opportunity facing the city over the next four years?
The industry growth around us with the potential of LNG and the associated upstream activity that goes with it.
12. What's the toughest challenge facing the city over the next four years?
The biggest opportunity is also our biggest challenge, to manage growth and make sure the community is capturing the full benefits of said growth.
Finish this sentence: When I'm not deep in thought about city politics and civic issues, I'm...
... I’m working fulltime, helping with the kids and, if I’m lucky, sneaking out for a golf game or a ride on my motorcycle.
What's the last book you read?
Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker.
What's the last movie you watched?
Beverly Hills Cop 2.
The best thing about Fort St. John that people don’t know about is…
The “behind the scenes” people volunteering in non-profits and fundraisers all over the city. We have an army of people giving up evenings and weekends, making our sports associations and fundraisers a success. Sometimes unnoticed but dedicated to the cause.
If you weren't living in Fort St. John, where would you be?
Someplace they ask you what a snow shovel is. Just kidding, my family and friends are all here, that’s important to me and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Want to know more about Chuck Fowler? He can be reached by phone at 250-794-6012, or by email at email@example.com.
Connect with Fowler on Facebook at facebook.com/ChuckforFSJCouncil.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.