Councillor Brenda Gouglas

Mayoral candidate Brenda Gouglas

The candidate's answers to questions put forward by the community of Fort St. James.

 

Describe your vision for Fort St. James in five years? 20 years?

Fort St. James will be a vibrant and stable community.  It will have diversity in industries, healthy small businesses, and educational opportunities leading to jobs that support families.  New recreational amenities will serve all our residents.

What is your vision/plan for working with other communities (regionally, First Nations)?  How would you build community between Nak’azdli and Fort St. James?

As mayor I will be working with other communities by having active roles on the boards of the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako and the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition.  Through these organizations community leaders create opportunities for the whole region.

I will hold community-to-community forums with our Nak’azdli neighbours to discuss solutions to challenges, and opportunities that face us both.

What ideas do you have or issues do you see which should be worked on with other governments? (federal, First Nation or provincial partnerships)

As more forest companies from outside our community harvest timber from our forest district, the resource will diminish more quickly.  The annual cut will have to be reduced to ensure sustainability. The impact that will have on our local mills has not yet been decided.  I want to be part of the impending discussions and decisions with the provincial government Chief Forester, forest industry representatives and First Nations to ensure our local mills, and our community, get our fair share.

A sharp increase in the number of logging trucks coupled with mining related traffic has created road safety concerns in our community.  These concerns will become more pronounced as the volume harvested off the north road alone is projected to triple; much of that volume will flow right through town.  Working with the provincial ministries of transportation and forests will help mitigate this situation.

Mt. Milligan mine has helped to breathe life into our community, and will for years to come.  I look forward to working with the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako and the provincial government on a possible revenue sharing agreement that will help ensure our community’s sustainability throughout the mine’s life cycle.

Like many communities in rural B.C. we have challenges in our health care sector.  We are frequently faced with doctor shortages, and our hospital needs replacing.  Continuing dialogue with Northern Health and the Ministry of Health, and having a seat on the board of the Stuart-Nechako Regional Hospital District will ensure our residents have the health services they deserve in our community.  To help cover the price of the new hospital I would lobby the federal government and local First Nations to pay a share of the costs as they too will benefit from a new facility.

What plans do you have for building for the future? Is there any infrastructure you would like to see or preparation for the community to handle future growth?

In building for the future we need to make sure our Official Community Plan is current so that it reflects the needs of industry, small business, and our residents.  I would like to get residents and businesses more engaged in providing input into that process.

This is an opportune time to consider a partnership with Nak’azdli for a water treatment system as both our communities are expecting growth in our population and housing over the next few years.  I also believe this to be an excellent project Thompson Creek and Terrane Metals could contribute legacy funds toward.

We need a community centre that will be home to recreational activities for children through to seniors.  It should be versatile enough to be used by sports and service groups alike.

We need to prepare for future growth in the small business, light and heavy industries by ensuring there is land available; this may require boundary expansion.

What does this town need to attract more small businesses? What are the land or tax issues facing small businesses?

We need to continue identifying our gaps in services and products, and to communicate those needs to those that are looking to invest in our community; the municipality does this through our Economic Development Officer.  The Chamber of Commerce is also working towards this goal.

We are facing a shortage of vacant municipal owned commercial land.

How will you make yourself accessible and open to the public regarding issues that affect the community?

As a retiree I am readily available and accessible in person, by phone or by email.  I would commit to holding more town hall meetings if that is the pubic wish.  As in the past I continue to look forward to speaking with the public on any issues that are affecting our community.

What role would you like to see key industry play within the community?

I would like to see our key industries of forestry and mining continue to support educational opportunities for their current and future employees through our local CNC campus.  This will help keep our young and mature workers learning and living in our community.

I would also like to see the key industries, including those companies that are removing fibre from our forest district to feed mills in other communities, support our recreational infrastructure such as the community centre.

Do you support or oppose the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline? How are you hoping to engage with the community on this issue?

I personally do not support the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal at this time.  I have and will continue to participate with our community in meetings regarding the project.  I have asked Enbridge to reschedule the public forum which was cancelled earlier this year, and they have also been invited to the November 23rd council meeting.

What role do you see district and council playing in initiatives now being done entirely by non-profit groups like Fireweed for providing programs for youth and hunger and homelessness?

The district and council currently support non-profit groups through our grant-in-aid program, and additional support is provided through the services of our municipal grant writer.  I see this role continuing.

District and council could help alleviate homelessness by adding strategies on affordable housing to the Official Community Plan.  Council has committed to help fund a housing needs assessment and has identified a potential piece of property suitable for affordable housing.

Do you have a commitment to reducing the waste in our landfill?  What ideas do you have to do this?  What action do you believe the district needs to take to make Fort St. James a “greener” community, if any?

I am committed to reducing the waste going to our landfill both personally and as a municipal leader.  By continuing to support the initiatives Greening Up Fort has been implementing we all help reduce the waste going to our landfill site.

The municipal office is already taking steps to keep items out of the landfill i.e., it is a community collection site for used batteries, and used paper products are recycled.  Taking things one step further, we have implemented the use of IPads for our council meetings.  While this technology has not been fully embraced by everyone on council, I use my IPad for not only council meeting packages, but also regional district and OBAC board meeting packages.  In a month that means approximately 500 pieces of paper do not have to be printed.

When the Greening Up Fort paper and cardboard baler is in operation I intend on implementing a bylaw prohibiting the municipal collection of cardboard, particularly from businesses.  I would also like to see a full ban on cardboard at the landfill site in support of the recycling efforts in our community.

To make Fort St. James a “greener” community the district should review the strategies in our official community plan to ensure they support green initiatives, such as the use of geothermal technology, water conservation, pathways for neighbourhood connectivity to encourage more foot traffic and less driving, and retention and enhancement of our greenbelts.  The community plan should be revisited often in order to reflect current-day best practices.

How do you think our community can meet it’s carbon emission reduction targets as it has signed on to do?

Lighting of all our municipal buildings and grounds should be energy efficient, and will be over time, as we implement more of the newer technology that is available.  This is also something our residents can do as well to decrease their power consumption.

The use of geothermal technology in our municipal buildings is helping to reduce our carbon emissions.

An annual review of our vehicle and equipment fleet would help identify some areas where we can improve.

We have created an anti-idling bylaw.  It is now up to the residents of our community to realize that it is a benefit to the environment if they abide by it.

What is the responsibility of municipal government to protect our waterways?

 

The municipality is regulated by provincial and federal legislation in the protection of our waterways.  Water is something every one of us relies so it is imperative that we are careful when working in and around the watersheds within the municipality and our community forest.