Terrace Coun. Sean Bujtas plans to take his advocacy for the city to the next level, making it official on July 26 that he’s running for mayor.
In a long anticipated announcement, Bujtas pointed to his 8 years of council experience, building relationships and working to solidify the city as the regional hub of northwest B.C.
Born and raised in Terrace, at 46-years-old, Bujtas has no plans to ever leave.
“Everything about this community matters to me. The success of this community matters to me, the people in the community matter to me, the businesses thriving matter to me and I just want to see Terrace succeed,” Bujtas said. “I want to be a champion of Terrace in finding that success.”
Since since 2019 Bujtas is co-chair of the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA), a coalition of 21 local governments pushing for a taxation revenue sharing agreement with the province.
Bujtas argues that such an agreement will help Terrace build and maintain important infrastructure.
“In 2019 the premier committed to getting a resource revenue sharing deal done,” Bujtas said. “We’re still moving in the right direction with the provincial government and I can get that done with the other two co-chairs.”
He said $100-million and then the $50-million in grants provided to regional local governments in 2019 and 2020 have already brought $15-million to the city, calling it just a taste of what a deal would mean.
“To put this into perspective, there’s a resource sharing agreement in the Peace River right now. Dawson Creek is the same size as the city of Terrace and every year the province of B.C. writes Dawson Creek a check for $16-million to spend on infrastructure,” Bujtas said.
“We’re a city with a budget of $26-million… so it will change our community.”
Bujtas also wants a solution to prolific offenders who he said are hurting local business.
“It’s a very small group of people affecting a large group of people and it needs to be addressed.”
While there’s an ongoing lack of housing in Terrace, Bujtas said more housing has come online over the past 8 years, which points to a broader issue when it comes to solving the homelessness crisis.
More available mental health and addictions support are a key part of the solution, he said. Last year Bujtas met with former Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing David Eby and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson about bringing detox and rehab to the northwest.
“We were told we were on their radar but we have to make sure that we’re not just on their radar, that they’re actually delivering in to the northwest, because folks need supports and they don’t have them right now.”
The new hospital now being built in Terrace is a good sign, he said, and the city can work alongside Northern Health to attract doctors and avoid a staffing shortage when it opens.
“It’s about livability, and that’s why it’s so important to get a revenue sharing deal done, to up the livability in the community and make it more attractive to professionals,” Bujtas said.
“Anybody will say all day long that Terrace is a beautiful place.”
“Whether it’s fishing, mountain biking or skiing, you can do it all here, there’s no question. But we need to improve some of the other amenities, that we’re lacking because we don’t have the revenue.”
Bujtas pointed to the Skeena Industrial Development Park just south of the Northwest Regional Airport as having “a lot of potential” for revenue-producing industrial growth.
“Terrace has been a logging town for years and now we’re in the process of re-branding ourselves because we’re not a logging town anymore. That stuff is clearly not coming back,” Bujtas said. “We’re the hub of the northwest, there’s no question. We’re the service supply centre and I don’t see that ever changing.”
Bujtas was recently appointed as treaty negotiations representative with the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and he wants to increase collaboration between the city and Indigenous communities.
“At the end of the day things that are good for Terrace should be good for Kitselas and Kitsumkalum as well.”
He was vice president of the Terrace Youth Soccer Association from 2012 up until 2019 and recently finished a one-year term as president of the Terrace Rotary Club.
“It’s important that we invest in our children and having sports for kids to play and other things for kids to do I think keeps them out of trouble,” Bujtas said. “So the more opportunity we can afford them the better.”
Bujtas manages the Chances Terrace Casino that features slots, bingo and dining.
The 2022 General Local Elections in B.C. are on October 15.
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