Mayoral candidate Sandra Harwood

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?

Five years is in fact a very short  period of time. In 2016 Milligan Mountain will be in to full production. At that time we will beabsolutely certain of the numbers of new residents who have chosen tomake this their home .Over the next 3 years mayor,council and staff can speculate on best case numbers, but it will be at that time the absolute needs for infrastructure development and upgrade becomes clear.

In the interim, residential development, new business, small and large, will find us more and more attractive. We need to be open for business, willing to work with proponents andcontinue to work on ways and means of making our community aneven more desirable place to live and work. It will be an exciting andchallenging time, with opportunities for our young  people,localentrepreneurs and services to thrive. We need only the will to do so.

Projecting out to twenty years is really difficult .My perfect scenario would be a stable, sustainable community with employment at a high level, a solid core community of small businesses, light and heavy industry; a community centre which services our arts and culture and recreational needs and serves as a showcase for the community and a drawing card for conferences. Inaddition the Community Foundation Fund which will be used to aid a variety of individuals in Fort St. James  would be bursting.

It is going to be an exciting time . I trust we will manage our potentialwith due diligence and thoughtfulness.

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?

In the past three years we have had the opportunity to meet with Chief Sam and his council, on matters of mutual interest and concern several times. In addition Chief Sam,representing his Council and constituents, and I have met to investigate joint projects of potential economic benefit .

I have also met with Chief Pierre of the Tache band and have agreed to hold a community-to-community meeting  to explore economic, health andeducation issues which are of a mutual concern. I am hopeful that the dialogue will continue. In fact we need to be respectful and mindful of the desires of First Nation’s government to be engaged.You can lead a horse to water,but………

We have an excellent working relationship with other communities, large and less large. We work closely on areas of mutual concernand while we are each mindful of our own priorities, in a spirit of cooperation we have accomplished much.We have discovered, finally, that many voices speak with greater impact and our problems are not unique to our municipalities.

We recognize a strong and valued ally in Regional District representative Tom Greenaway, with whom we keep a closeworking relationship and whose generosity in assisting in various community projects has been invaluable.

Further to the previous question, a strong voice comprised of the Nakazdl’i; Vanderhoof  Mayor and Council; Regional District director Greenaway;the regional district board and this Mayor and Council lobbying for improvements required for Highway 27 will go far.

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

The hospital funding which will be required for improvement and eventually replacement of Stuart Lake Hospital is also an item for negotiation.

The threat of wildfire is still a concern in our region given our pine beetle infested forests.Plans must be put into place for wildfire mitigation and the planning has begun with the District and Nakazdli taking leadership roles.

A provincial policy must be put into place, for revenue sharing with resource extraction projects,with rural district areas and the communities servicing those projects. We, along with RDBN, aretaking the lead in formulating that policy which will then be negotiated with the Province. Ruth,in the interest of space,I have stopped there.Many more.

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?

I don’t believe it is the responsibility of the District to actually build residences or apartment blocks. My thoughts are that it is in our best interests to work closely and co-operatively with developers,to consider any rezoning requests,designate land for future development, following our OCP, and workto encourage senior’s and low cost housing units in our future plans.

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

More people, and they are on the way.  Patience is the key in this area. As the need grows and the potential for economicsuccess for small business becomes apparent, the small business sector will grow.Council needs to workwith the business community to relieve any roadblocks which may be under our control. I do not believe we have any outstanding tax or land issues with small business.

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

Local government is the most accountable and most accessible to the electors. We need to be visible,approachable and open minded. It is also crucial, that to be believable we need to follow up on concerns or suggestions brought to us and report back to

those who brought them forward.

It is the way I have always approached the responsibility of local elected officials and I will continue to work towards that.

 

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

Industry light or heavy,has their job to do, as does Council. That does not mean there are not areas of mutual concern and interest on which we can not dialogue. Our Heavy Industry Taxation Exemption Bylaw is a perfect example of industry  and council co-operating for the best for the community. Having said that, I would like to see more involvement by  representatives of key industry on some of the committees within the community ,volunteer committees. I also would like to see a commitment to take part financially in a project ,of their choice ,which would directly benefit the quality of life for us.

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

Each individual must make up their own mind. After 2 years, I am convinced the Northern Gateway Project is not in the best interests of the environment ,our community or our province (except for financial coffers).

I cannot support it. I have no problem discussing the project with community members  however I have no intention of lobbying against it.

 

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 think we have a very healthy balance of volunteer,non-profit  and Council driven initiatives. I don’t believe it is government ‘s responsibility to provide everything, nor to control everything. We are fortunate to have the groups in our community who take the initiative to provide for the needs they recognize. I believe it is Council’s responsibility to support these groups. We can, and have done that by providing whatever assistance we can, in kind, or financially or with support for grant funding from other agencies.

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 think my record speaks for itself. As Mayor and Regional District Director,I supported the 3 R’s initiative,along with my colleague Tom Greenaway .We found the money through gas tax funds to acquire the recycling bins for paper and cardboard and have now moved to the construction of the recycling centre. In 3 years we have moved forward in leaps and bounds. The community now needs to buy in to the recycling initiative.

I believe District government  needs to enact a bylaw which prohibits the pickup of cardboard by district trash collector.

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

 

With the new technologies available and energy efficient ways of operating we can adopt,I’m sure we can come close .

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

Although we have no direct jurisdiction over waterways I believe it is our responsibility to keep aware of any changes in legislation which might adversely affect waterways, new tariffs on their use  and projects which threaten their future health.

Keeping informed then gives us the ability to respond.