THE ALL-CANDIDATES forum at the REM Lee Theatre Nov. 8 welcomed a contingent of 12 people running for the six Terrace council seats.
Chris Gee started things off for the council candidates.
“…I’m a man of conviction, I’m a man of commitment, a man of compassion but most importantly I’m a man of action,” he said, taking a microphone and standing in front of the candidates’ table, which he did every time he spoke.
“When I found out that young people in the Skeena watershed suffered from one of the highest rates of suicide per capita in Canada, I took action. I created the Youth Program that allowed young people to build self-esteem, to connect with local rivers… 60 young people were involved in that program last year,” he said.
He taught a woman, Ali Howard, how to swim in rivers and then went with her as she swam the length of the Skeena River to protest Shell oil company from drilling for coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters.
These and other events made him want to run for a council seat, he said.
Marylin Davies said, although she’d been out of city politics for a while, she had considerable experience in public service: as a volunteer, as councillor and as a director on the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and vice-chair of the regional hospital board.
“I believe in the economic responsibility of everybody. A simple formula paramount to the running of all local government: people equals taxes equals core services.
“…It’s a sad reality but if you raise services in one area, you have to do without something else or raise taxes,” she said.
The city’s responsibilities are roads, sewers, fire, water, police protection and to a lesser degree recreation and development, she said.
“Being prepared to take advantage of projects with specific grant money is a major role and one of the keys to success. I believe Terrace is becoming a major service centre for industry around us, and lifestyle opportunities play a major role in making that attractive as well…,” she said.
Stacey Tyers said council needed some balance and that business interests had dominated it for a long time.
“We’re looking at a lot of changes coming ahead and we need to make sure that our most vulnerable citizens are not left behind,” she said in her opening statement.
“It’s imperative that we make sure that we are looking after our community as a whole, that the voice for everybody is heard on council.”
She said business interests needed to be represented but so did social services and others.
Social services are often left to the side but are a strong economy driver of the community as their purchasing and buying power is high and they leave behind a social benefit as they look after people that others don’t want to look after, she said.
James Cordeiro said this time he was running for council with optimism about where Terrace is headed whereas in his 2008 campaign, he wasn’t very happy with a lot that was going on.
“This time around I think we’re ready for the economic increases we’ve been promised so many times, and so many times been disappointed,” he said.
People had asked him if he would have time for city council since he runs a business.
“I do own a business and that’s a 24/7 job but we all make time for things that are very important for us and I think it’s very important what’s going to be happening in this community in the next three years,” he said.
Tamara Ainscow said she moved to Terrace three years ago because she was done with city life, its hectic pace and its lack of green space.
She’s concerned about youths and the city having ability to meet their needs and for affordable housing, adequate transportation and continued access to programs like Meals on Wheels for the older population.
Different groups need to come together to work effect change on issues, she said.
“That allows us to provide youth with a place …community centre, a homeless youth shelter and most importantly allow us to create employment now and in the future,” she said.
To accomplish this, she offers her skills as coordinator and innovative problem solving skills to thoe table, she said.
Bruce Bidgood remarked that in his last term as city councillor, he had attended 59 of 62 meetings, saying “leave it to a teacher to take attendance” and highlighted three principles he’s running on.
One is economic sustainability he said.
“Each economic development activity needs to be analyzed: not in terms of just jobs and revenues but also in terms of its environmental impact and social well-being of our community,” he said, adding the city needed to “stop chasing smoke stacks and providing tax breaks for industry….”
The city should market itself as a hub for education and service, and should provide more support to small and medium businesses which collectively are the major employer of jobs here so jobs in Terrace stay in Terrace.
He said a living wage needs to be established to ensure every person can live in human dignity and to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all groups in the community.
And we have a responsibility to reduce our environmental footprint.
“We have an ethical responsibility to leave this remarkable terrain at least as pristine as we found it,” he said.
Brian Downie acknowledged his two terms on council and that he’s looking forward to a bright future for the city.
“After a dozen years of economic downturn, we’re on the verge of significant economic growth,” he said.
“It’s exciting news, welcome news and we look forward to the future.”
He added that the city will have to work hard to see it adapt to pressures that come.
Opportunities for the city are downtown revitalization, which includes moving on the future co-op site, and priorities include programs for youth and facilities for youth.
“We need to look to the future. We need to have a vision. We need to seize on that. The time is now for action,” he said.
Lynne Christiansen thanked residents for the privilege of working for them for the last 12 years.
She hoped the newly elected city council could be a reflection of the community’s diversity as differences are positive, especially if everyone comes together for the betterment of the community.
“I’ve always felt it’s important to be out there and involved and listen to the concerns of our community, and to let my conscience be my guide. I speak my own individual opinion on matters of social issues and environmental, and the economy,” she said.
“There are those who don’t have a voice and it’s important to speak for them.”
She concluded by asking people to not take the privilege of casting a vote for granted and to make sure to get out and vote.
MaryAnn Freeman said her parents taught her not to let life or its circumstances beat her, the value of family, a good work ethic and most importantly to live within her means.
“If elected as city councillor, I want to focus [on] spending taxpayers’ money within our means. This is not my money, this is your money, I’m very conscientious of that fact and I’m not going to spend it willy nilly,” she said, adding she would look at all factors of how money is being sent.
Maintaining infrastructure is one key point.
Freeman also emphasized her volunteer work with the board of education and other experience and from that, she learned to listen and to spend money wisely and prudently.
Mike Ross said if voters were looking for somebody passionate about Terrace and democracy then he was their man.
We have alot to be passionate about with the pristine lakes, rivers, forests, fish and wildlife and rainforest, which has been likened to the Amazon, he said.
First Nations have been stewards for generations to this legacy, he said.
With the recession, the city has been looking for a saviour and needs to stop relying on someone else.
“We have made questionable spending decisions in the past while searching for a way for someone to build up, save our city,” he said.
The people who care least about Terace are the residents and our neighbours, he said.
“We have to do it ourselves. No one is coming to save us,” he said.
“We need to work together to shape our own destiny and plan our own future.”
Tyson Hull started off saying he was trying to curtail a $2.3 million annual loss in the pool, arena, library and other social recreational services.
“We haven’t had any new ideas come to the table with a new vision …on how we can cut our losses in the community,” he said.
He brings a youth perspective with fresh ideas and a fresh approach to solve problems with the city budget, he said.
“For the size of city Terrace is, we freely spent for too long and yes it’s true we’re looking at potential growth once again but until we figure out how to deal with and manage the waste we have today, we’re not ready for the boom tomorrow,” he said.
Dan LeFrancois said drawing revenue to the community was important and he had seen people leave here to find a job elsewhere after having no luck here.
“More money spent in Terrace means more money in the pockets of Terrace [residents],” he said, adding the city has what it needs to be a tourist hot spot: a ski hill, lakes, rivers, scenery and aboriginal arts and culture, which we need to work together with to promote.