Larry Evans is one of 12 candidates vying for six seats on Fort St. John city council, and an incumbent councillor seeking re-election after he was first elected in 2005.
Evans is a former fire chief for the city and if you've never seen him entertaining guests about local history at the museum, well, you've probably never been to the museum. Evans wants to see the city spend more on infrastructure and economic development, and do more to reach out to developers to explain the downtown revitalization plan and the options available to them.
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: Larry Evans
Neighbourhood: Dr. Kearney Jr. Secondary area
Occupation: Retired fire chief, actively involved in community with North Peace Historical Society, Sunrise Rotary Club, and seniors events
1. Why did you decide to run for council?
I feel with my experience, with all aspects of my life, I have a lot to offer to the City of Fort St. John and its residents. I would like to see the city progress in a fair and sustainable manner, and I believe I could help this happen.
2. What experience and skills would you bring to council?
Over the years, I've been involved in many organizations such as Winter Games, Festival of the Arts, Child Development Centre, Air Shows, etc. I have chaired or been a director for many of these groups or organizations. My 31 years with the Fort St. John Fire Department and the past years on council have given me a valuable insight on the needs and wants of the community. I use this experience when making decisions affecting the people of Fort St. John. This has also helped me become an excellent tour guide, and I'm asked frequently to tour professionals considering a move to Fort St. John. This also makes me an excellent ambassador for the city that I love so much.
3. What would be your top three priorities if elected, and why?
a) Maintain a low and fair tax rate for citizens and businesses of Fort St. John.
b) To make sure that everything we do is fair and equitable to all concerned, and to maintain the transparency that we've achieved in all our decisions.
c) Promote Fort St. John as the vibrant and energetic city to attract more people and businesses.
4. What programs or services should the city spend more on?
Infrastructure, ie. roads, sidewalks, street lights, water and sewer. Also, economic development.
5. What programs or services should the city spend less on?
I don't believe we should spend less on services now in place, because these make up an integral part of the fabric that holds the City of Fort St. John together and makes it the energetic city that it is.
6. Would you support raising taxes to support council priorities?
Only if it was done by proper consultation with the citizens and businesses of Fort St. John, and whatever the priority was that was needed. I do not believe in raising taxes unless it was absolutely necessary and all avenues have been explored.
7. What should the city do to attract new industry and business?
When I do my tours for different people, such as physicians, teachers, or anybody, I am constantly amazed at how much the city has to offer. While this is being promoted quite well within the city, I think we should reach out and tell the rest of the world what there is in Fort St. John. We can do this through economic development.
8. What should the city do to stimulate downtown investment?
Reach out to contractors and developers and explain to them our downtown revitalization master plan. We would show what is available within the city core for building sites, and how they might contribute in the way of opening businesses and providing residential units. To truly revitalize downtown we need people working and living there.
9. What's been the city's greatest achievement over the last four years?
The greatest achievements have been additional walking trails and paved roads. We have kept taxes as low as possible and have provided land for two new schools at fair market value. We have a micro-hydro project to offset the cost of pumping our water up from river level. We have refined recycling and refuge pick-up and boundary expansions to allow for growth of residential and industrial areas. We have been preparing the downtown core by way of demolition of old structures in preparation for new development.
10. What has been the city's greatest failure over the last four years?
In my opinion, there have been no failures as we strived to be successful with everything we did. The only issue is more consultation with the public with some decisions made.
11. What's the biggest opportunity facing the city over the next four years?
With the recent announcement of the LNG Canada project, I believe the City of Fort St. John will experience faster growth. This would be our opportunity to bring more businesses and residents to Fort St. John. This could bring more shops and services slowing the flow of out-of-town shopping and encouraging more local shopping. This could also encourage more medical professionals to move to Fort St. John, alleviating the current demand on our medical system.
12. What's the toughest challenge facing the city over the next four years?
Maintaining and growing our infrastructure and services to meet the demand of all businesses and residents in Fort St. John. Encouraging Northern Health to continue lobbying to fill physicians, nurses, and other medical professional spaces in the North Peace area, meeting the demand of the rising population. Also, helping the non-profit organizations, however we can, to meet the demand for their services.
Finish this sentence: When I'm not deep in thought about city politics and civic issues, I'm....
... I'm spending time with my wife, Joan, and our grandchildren. Also, time is spent with the North Peace Historical Society, emceeing events and documentary nights at the museum. I attend Sunrise Rotary regularly and any special events they are involved in. I spend time touring different groups around our wonderful and vibrant city as requested by city staff, or other organizations.
What's the last book you read?
Glory Road, by Robert A. Heinlein.
What's the last movie you watched?
Madagascar 3 with the grandchildren.
The best thing about Fort St. John that people don't know about is...
All the wonderful and varied things Fort St. John has to offer. How quick people are to volunteer and how businesses come forward to support numerous events.
If you weren't living in Fort St. John, where would you be?
I've lived in Fort St. John all my life and don't plan on moving. So I guess if I'm not living here, I would be at Woodlawn Cemetery, which is technically still in Fort St. John!
Want to know more about Larry Evans? He can be reached by phone at can be reached by phone at 250-785-2416 or 250-263-5067, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with Evans on Facebook at facebook.com/larry.evans.39794.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at email@example.com.