Mayoral candidate Rob MacDougall

Rob MacDougall's responses to questions from the community of Fort St. James.

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

In five years I can see Fort St James as a bustling community of 2500 people with a strong commercial, industrial, forestry, mining, educational and tourism business sector.  As well we will also be developing the infrastructure to meet the needs of our community in the long term. Mining will become a major employer in our region and with the aging population, consideration will have to be given to accommodating the retiring workforce locally.

In twenty years I can see Fort St James continuing to be a very active community although there may be a shift from forestry only to forestry and mining as our major employers. I also think we will be a community catering to the tourism industry at a higher level and we will see our town transition to a more retirement friendly community.

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?

My plan for working with other communities is to strengthen the relationships already in place by sharing ideas and solutions that are common to us all. This can be accomplished by reviving the Regional Economic Development Initiative meetings that were held on a bi-weekly basis during Mayor Togyi and my terms in office. These meetings involved the mayors of Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Fort St James and their respective Regional District Directors, Community Futures and invited guests. We discussed economic opportunities within our region.  I would like to expand the representation at these meetings to include a member from each of our First Nation communities and the focus to include addressing all issues in the region.

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

Issues to work on with the Federal Government are our population numbers from the recent census to ensure they are accurate, provide input on the proposed Enbridge Pipeline during the review process

Issues to work on with the provincial government are upgrades to our highways to ensure they are safe to travel on, senior housing, construction of a new hospital, revenue sharing to offset the increase in resource migration, adequate health care and education funding. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the elimination of medical services plan fees billed to our senior citizens.

Ideas to discuss with our First Nation neighbors would center on health care, homelessness, local service agreements, safeguarding communities from natural disasters such as flooding and fire, business opportunities, education opportunities project partnerships and joint gatherings.

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?

Heathmont subdivision development and marketing, construction of the proposed community center, upgrades to Highway 27 and the Germanson Highway (North Road), downtown traffic, parking issues, and intersection congestion, community forest expansion, senior housing expansion, industrial subdivision development, downtown walking trails and a new hospital

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

In order to attract additional small businesses to our town we must develop residential,  commercial and industrial lots, institute municipal tax breaks that are fair to all small businesses and carry out an extensive marketing campaign extolling our community as a place that has clean air, safe water, affordable living, job opportunities, accessible health care, an abundance of recreational activities and comparable municipal taxes. The slogan I would use for the marketing campaign is “Fort St James – A Community of Opportunity”.

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

I am presently working part time in the forest industry with flexible hours and will be available to attend meetings, meet the public and champion our community. If elected I will commit to reviving the annual community visioning sessions which will allow the public an opportunity to provide input on how they would like to see mayor and council develop Fort St James. I will also submit bi-monthly to the Caledonia Courier an update of the activities I have participated in on behalf of Fort St James and a councilor will provide an update of their activities in the months between my submissions. I will also contact the local radio station requesting that a member of council be afforded the opportunity to give a live update on air of the previous evening’s council meeting highlights on CIFJ/CIVH, similar to what Vanderhoof council presently does. I will always be available for a phone call, email or set meeting at the public’s convenience.

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

The role I would like to see our key industries play within the community is to continue to supply job opportunities, provide donations to non-profit groups, keep the public updated on goal and objective accomplishments and encourage the involvement of employees in the local volunteer committees and organizations. I would also ask that they attend council meetings on a regular basis to provide an operational update.

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

I do not support the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline because I do not support the export of natural resources thus jobs where the alternative of local refineries is available. The economic benefits are miniscule, compared to the catastrophic environmental impact a line rupture causing a spill into a river or lake would have. However, I am representing the public and their majority decision gathered through public consultation meetings is the message I will convey during municipal related discussions regardless of my position.

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?

I feel mayor and council should continue to support the non-profit groups in our community on an as needs basis through municipal grant-in-aids based on an application submission.  The money to be distributed would be split 50/50 between the taxpayer and our community forest revenue to a maximum amount set by council. This amount could be determined based on previous annual grant-in-aid contributions and a needs assessment.

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 strongly support recycling. My wife and I recycle every product that we can and we participate in the blue bin program. I also believe mayor and council should support the recycling effort by encouraging everyone to learn about and get involved in the recycling efforts of the local volunteer Greenup Fort St James committee and practice recycling.

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

 

Our community can work toward achieving our carbon emission reduction targets by ensuring all new municipal infrastructure is built with wood and urging our residents who are planning to build to do the same, encouraging individuals to take advantage of the wood stove exchange program, urging our local mills to eliminate beehive burners, build downtown walking trails, eliminate open burning within the municipality and request the public update their inefficient furnaces, heaters etc.

What is the responsibility of municipal government to protect our waterways?Everyone including the municipal council has a responsibility to protect our waterways and by eliminating direct runoff into our lakes and streams by installing storm sewers is one method that reduces the potential for contamination. There are also opportunities to conduct stream bank restoration to reduce erosion and siltation of our creeks and lakes.