What is your Vision of FSJ in 5 years? In 20?
My vision of FSJ in five years would be a place that has expanded rapidly, but sustainably. As with the influx of the mine traffic, we would have seen a new subdivision and with the people it will bring some new small businesses in town. As this boom would be rapid and then level off once the mine is in operation, I believe that a proactive council can not only keep up with growth, but parlay some of it to further benefit the community.
In 20 years I see Fort st James as a community that has a strong economic sector, but also couples it with a high quality of life.
How and what needs to be done to achieve that?
Working with Thompson Creek would be paramount to the next five years. As the large new investor in town they will be the main engine of growth in this community for the foreseeable future. They have already expressed an interest with working with Fort St James in regards to the the new subdivision and its planing. Expanding our relationship with them, seeing what they need to operate successfully in town will give us the chance to grow our community in a manor that will attract other industry or businesses as well as the skilled people to fill some of those jobs.
To achieve our twenty year goals I believe that Fort st James would need some investments in its infrastructure. The downtown revitalization did wonders to the pride of the town as well as its livability. The addition of some projects like a Community hall, increased recreational programs and other projects would make Fort not only a great place to work but to live. A high quality of life and a stable economy would attract people to move here and possibly bring their business. One example is a friend moved here from P.G because of the ski hill and the lake. He brought with him his trade as a stone mason, something Fort St James has previously never had and now you can see its benefits all over the downtown today.
Towns such as Smithers (A heavy mining town) have combined industry with quality of life (Ski Hill, outdoor adventure tourism) to create places that bring people in, places that business wants to be a part of due to a energized local population, opportunities, and quality of life of its employees.
What do you see as the key issues facing Fort St James today?
The key issues facing Fort St James today would be unsustainable growth which would help contribute to things such as rises in cost of living and lack of low income housing. Other issues that should be looked at are the drug and alcohol abuse downtown that we see daily and the lack of activity for the towns youth.
What are your top 3 priority’s when tackling these issues?
On the issue of growth, planning is everything. If there is a detailed plan on paper as situations arise then we have a better chance of making them more beneficial to FSJ, or at least minimizing their negative impacts.
Communication is a large part as well, any plan for the growth of the town would need to include the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Committee and citizens.
And because Fort St James does not operate with a large budget, it would be a necessity to chase grants and/or private backing for the majority of any program we would like to implement.
On the issue of Drugs and alcohol, FSJ and Nakazdli would need to work together as it is a problem that equally affects both communities. Both sides need a Men’s House to get people help.
As for the activities for the towns youth, it may be possible to have a feature added to the community hall that is youth centered and year round accessible or even the creation of a well lit skate park.
Well here’s my best shot at answering your questions,
Where will your priority’s be when it comes to budget issues?
On budget issues I am fiscally conservative. I think that FSJ should not become indebted for the long term because in a small town with a limited budget it would damage our ability to cope with issues that arise in the future i.e fire truck replacement. However that being said I do believe that FSJ has some areas it needs to improve in, but the budget for those would have to be a hybrid, composing of our money, private money and/or grant money if they exceed a certain amount.
What role do you see council playing with regards to youth & hunger & homelessness initiatives and issues? Active, supportive or none?
Our role on these topics should be active. Even if all we do is work with the non profit groups that operate in our town on these issues it might be the difference for them to get grants. Youth programs I believe should be supported by our council because impacting people young may help stave off hunger and homelessness later on in there life. Nak’azdli would be a great example of this as they have been running youth programs for years that are showing great results, results like youth more active in sports and maintaining a honor roll presence.
How would you like to see the local district get get involved in meeting their carbon emissions reduction targets?
As a carpenter, I like what the district is doing in that all new buildings now have geothermal heat in them. Slight changes to how the district builds its buildings could make a large difference in efficiency, and also reduce their cost of operation for the long run. The same also applies for any future retrofit or renovations. Another option would be to look at what other communities that share a similar climate are doing and how effective they are.