A look at Dale Bumstead

Emphasizes infrastructure and preparing for growth


Days after a by-election date for Mayor was set, a former City Councillor and former MLA constituency assistant, Dale Bumstead, was the first to announce that he would like to take up the chair.

"I believe that I earn people's trust and I demonstrate the passion for this community," said Bumstead. "I've demonstrated over the course of my career and my community involvement that I will bring integrity into the role."

Bumstead, who was born in Dawson Creek and who raised his own family here, said that he has received support from the community to run.

From 1993 to 1998, Bumstead served as a city councillor. In 1998, he was appointed as a regional vice president for ICBC.

The travel associated with that position meant a lot more time away from the city, which he said meant that he could no longer hold his position as councillor.

Bumstead retired from ICBC in 2010, and in 2012, he went to work for former South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom as a constituency assistant.

"That really spurred my interest in being back in the community again," he said. "I really enjoyed being back, connected with the community."

This experience helped him out, he said, as it showed him the impact of industry and the issues facing Dawson Creek residents.

He also said that he's qualified for the job.

"I think I've got the skill set, the knowledge, the abilities to be able to add value to that position," Bumstead added. "I think that Dawson Creek is on the cusp of some significant implications in terms of what could happen in our community and our region in the next five to ten years I want to be part of the leadership team that delivers it on behalf of the community."

Much of that will come from the growth of the natural gas industry and Dawson Creek's position within it.

"I believe [in] the significance of what will happen in this area in the next five or ten years, as they move and start to develop that natural gas to the marketplace," he said.

He hopes to prepare the city for this expected boom. Part of his plan will be to provide a five- to ten-year vision to align Dawson Creek's objectives.

Another shift Bumstead wants to make deals with how FairShare funds are distributed.

In the 2012 budget, about 78 per cent of funds from FairShare went to operating - the day-to-day costs of running a city - and about 23 per cent went to capital, or the buildings and repairs the city needs, it was reported earlier. This is in line with previous budgets.

Councils have justified this expense by saying that it would keep taxes low. However, Bumstead believes that vision is short-sighted.

"My view is that operating costs of any organization is from the people who are purchasing your product, and that's the taxpayers," he said. "If the provincial government ever pulled that money, then the taxpayers would have to find ten million additional dollars of revenue, or try to cut $10 million worth of services. That would be significant and absolutely devastating."

He believes that infrastructure would make up a high, "core" concern should he become mayor.

"People have to have the confidence in water and sewer utilities - that when they turn the tap on, they have water," he said.

Another large debate going on in the city is how to best secure the water supply. Some have argued in favour of a raw water reservoir, while others have argued that a pipeline to the Peace River would be a better idea.

Bumstead is in neither camp.

"I don't think it's a pipeline or a reservoir - it's first of all, do we need to address the financial situation and make sure we have the capacity to build on the infrastructure? And not for today or tomorrow, but for the long term," he said.

Some residents have also complained about a high cost of living. Many attribute this rise in rent to the increasing number of oil and gas workers coming into the city, and this increased population brings on higher rents which they may be able to afford, but others cannot.

However, Bumstead would like to get more information before he makes a decision on how to proceed.

"I don't understand it well enough to know what's driving market costs," he said "When you have the industry [growth] that we're experiencing in the Dawson Creek area and Peace River South, it's something we haven't experienced ever before in our history."

Bumstead would like to get the community's input through the planning process to make sure there's affordable housing available "to people in the right circumstances."

"I think the community has to be deliberate: how much of this growth do we want?" he said. "To others, they need to see this growth for their own families and business and their own employment. To others, it's devastating if you're not working in there and I understand that."

He would like to continue to promote the Encana Events Centre, with the idea of making it entirely self-sufficient. The facility currently takes over $1 million each year in operating costs.

He would also like to be in conversations to bring other airlines to the Dawson Creek Regional Airport, but admits it may be difficult, given the competitiveness of the airline industry and the challenges posed by the competing Fort St. John and Grande Prairie airports.

This profile originally ran in the May 31 edition of the Dawson Creek Daily News. Except for minimal edits for style and to remove outdated information, it remains unchanged. The Daily News is running profiles of all four candidates, including reprinting this one, to maintain fairness.

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