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Twelve people compete for six councillor positions in Fort St. John

In Fort St. John, two people are competing for every seat in the upcoming municipal election. Councils all over the province will have to make difficult decisions, and each have unique issues. Despite Fort St.
Fort St. John City Council candidates.

In Fort St. John, two people are competing for every seat in the upcoming municipal election.

Councils all over the province will have to make difficult decisions, and each have unique issues. Despite Fort St. John’s booming economy and higher than average incomes, candidates agreed on a few common problems that the next council will have to address, although the total list of ideas they provided to the Alaska Highway News, both old and new, was impressive.

We asked 12 council candidates 12 questions about themselves and their platforms. Because we don’t have the space to share everything they wrote in the newspaper, we decided to include a taste of each candidate’s platform. Candidates’ entire responses are available for viewing online at

One of Byron Stewart’s top ideas was to create a more regional plan for policing.

This idea would “create a Regional model involving all Peace Regional municipalities and regional districts to allow for the fluid movement of officers throughout the region.” It would also “centralize admin staff and specialized police units to help ensure adequate staffing.”

For Becky Grimsrud, one of her suggestions was for better communication between the city and residents. She wanted “less major decision-making without the city's input.”

“All of us together are smarter than any one of us,” she wrote. “I think with more open communication, the city would either be able to show the citizens legitimate reasons for pursuing certain projects, or else the citizens would have the opportunity to express their thoughts on major expenses.”

Larry Evans emphasized accessibility and taking care of seniors in his response.

“As seniors are our fastest-growing demographic, we have to be prepared for their needs ... I’d like to be remembered for my work in trying to make the city accessible for all, and that seniors needs are met,” he said. “I am also aware of the young population ... and would like to be remembered as someone that made decisions that would benefit the young families.”

For Tamara Wilkinson, maintaining infrastructure was key.

“My top three priorities, if elected, would be to focus on the roads (paving, snow removal, etc.), making sure that if and when Site C and LNG are approved that our city's infrastructure is not compromised and also to increase public participation with changes that are happening within our city,” she wrote. “We need to make sure the roads are safe for our drivers, emergency vehicles and pedestrians.”

Gord Klassen said he would “continue to promote investment and economic growth in our city, making sure we are at the table.

“At the same time, I will work to protect our community, ensuring that development aligns itself with our Official Community Plan, that industry recognize and address the impacts that increased activity has on our community, and that development and growth is strategic and sustainable.”

Graham McCoubrey said that he would “work to improve the day-to-day operation of our community” and that he would emphasize growth management.

“A big accomplishment for me would be to improve development procedures so more businesses choose to operate inside the city limits and pay taxes that generate revenue,” he wrote. I’d like to be remembered as a representative that improved the effectiveness and efficiency of council.”

Bruce Christensen said that his top three priorities were education, health care and financial sustainability.

“Education is a must in today’s challenging world. We need more schools with proper financing so our young people can attain the level of education necessary to be tomorrow’s leaders ... we do not presently have adequate health care services to meet the needs of our citizens, young or seniors.

“We must have financial sustainability so that we do not burden our children and grandchildren.”

Karen Mason-Bennett said “[Any question of long-term goals] is better put to residents, as government’s job is to represent them.”

“My personal wish list would include pushing the envelope on low-impact housing developments, increased accessibility and food security, but if these are not priority areas shared by others then they can and will take back stage. I would like to be remembered for collaborative partnerships and innovative thinking that really made Fort St John shine.”

One of Dan Davies’ priorities was attracting professionals and skilled labour.

“Fort St. John needs health care professionals, engineers, social workers, RCMP, carpenters and electricians, to mention a few. The city can play a role in creating an attractive community for not only the worker, but the families of these professionals. Unless we can attract and retain the entire family of these new residents, we will always have issues.”

Chris Clarke said council needed to focus on two main groups of issues where “situations have reached the breaking point.”

“[There are] the issues having to do with a high economic expansion and the stress on the infrastructure, including but not limited to doctor shortage, roads, schools, day care and homelessness. (The second category is) the upcoming issues the council will have to decide on, such as Site C and LNG.”

Trevor Bolin said that one of his long-term goals was “the finalization of the major projects, tied into the sustainable and economic development and growth of the city.

“I believe anyone can 'manage' during flat times, but during extremely busy times and the slowdowns is the time to shine and ensure everything has been done as a long-term approach ... we need to ensure we are always proactive and not reactive.”

Dan Pope explained his priorities succinctly: “Working toward expanding the city’s boundaries, solving the critical doctor shortage and addressing the city’s growth with responsible planning ... including finding ways to help families find affordable housing.”

This is not an all-encompassing overview of candidate responses. Many of the issues raised here were discussed by multiple councillors, and disputed or criticized by others. Also, in some cases the quotes in this article came from answers to multiple questions.

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