Trent Ernst, Editor
Once again, we here at the News have gone to great lengths to get you these answers from the local candidates for town council. Be warned: this is a long one and takes up most of the paper.
Darryl: Darryl Krakowka
Helen: Helen Scott
Joanne: Joanne Kirby
Marcel: Marcel Brodeur
Mike: Mike Caisley
Rob: Rob Mackay
Rose: Rose Colledge
Tim: Tim Snyder
Will: Will Howe
Why are you running for council? What’s your motivation?
Darryl: I decided to run for council this year to be part of a team to help move Tumbler Ridge forward at becoming more diversified with industry and tourism
Helen: I am running for council because I care for our quality of life in Northern BC. I want the seniors who worked here, raised their families here, be able to retire where they choose to be and still have necessary care. I want my grandchildren that are growing up in this community to have choices to stay or go. Not have to leave in order to ‘seek their fortune’. Tumbler Ridge is my family’s place of business and my home.
Joanne: I am running for council because I’m invested, committed, motivated to all things ‘Tumbler Ridge”. I want to step up my role in the community, become part of the decision making.
Marcel: Currently, I am 51 years old and having gotten through some hardships in my life of which a big one was my Father’s death, I reflected on what I wanted to do to make a difference in peoples lives. I care deeply for the people and area of Tumble Ridge and felt that I could have my strongest influence by being a member of Town Council. Recently, I saw the trees being clear cut beside Northern Metallic, I was under the assumption that we were to remove the beetle killed wood, and when I saw the grade A lumber being stacked I got very upset. I went to council and was put on the agenda for the following meeting. I brought forth my concerns on what was taking place, the wrongs of how it was being done, and also my background as being a government inspector, and was met with the rolling of eyes, and condescending lip service. We put our trust in our town’s chambers and should not have to worry; they should have our best interests at heart. Right now, I don’t believe that is entirely the case. So that is the reason I decided to run for council, “if you’re not part of the solution, your part of the problem”… my eyes are wide open, and they see everything.
Mike: securing and maintaining on-going sustainability for Tumbler Ridge.
Rob: Tumbler Ridge is my home and I feel I can make a difference. I have served two terms on town council and am seeking a third. In the past I have sat as our representative on the Peace River Regional District B.O.D. and Vice President of the Community gardens. At present I am on the Board of Directors with the Community Futures Peace Liard Region, the Tumbler Ridge Community Forest, the Library Board, and recently been appointed to the Success by Six B.O.D. I also sit on the Workers Transition Group that works with the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Skills Training as well as the Urban Reserve that deals with Aboriginal land claims.
Rose: I feel I am not motivated by a “What”, as much as being motivated by “Who” and that is the People of Tumbler Ridge. People and meeting the needs of the residents of our town has always been important to me.
Tim: I am running for council in hopes of being a part of a team that is for the District of Tumbler Ridge. My motivation is this is my town and I want it to be the best it can be.
Will: I am running for council to get involved and try and help the community to be all that I know it can be. My motivation is my family. I want Tumbler Ridge to get back to the place where I grew up, and then take it beyond there. In order for my family to enjoy it as much as I do, we need the population to grow. With true local residents working a 4 and 4 schedule, it would take away the transient worker who never moves their family and kids to our town. Population is needed to grow businesses, community features, sports and recreation.
What’s the single greatest attribute you bring?
Darryl: I’m a hard working team player and give 100% at anything I do.
Helen: The single greatest attribute I bring is determination and expecting people to be accountable. I question why and how things are done and try to improve procedures. I like to see money invested wisely and not mismanaged. I also have vision and can see an idea through, from cradle to grave.
Joanne: greatest attribute is the passion I have for Tumbler Ridge.
Marcel: My biggest attribute is that I’m a problem solver, and look for better ways of doing things, which may come from life experiences, and being raised on a farm, where we fended for ourselves and found ingenious was of doing things. I am looking forward to working for our taxpayers, and hope they are pleased with my efforts. If you have a question I will promptly answer it, and if can’t I will get the answer for you, and it will be in writing. “Accountability”
Mike: Commitment and proven experience.
Rob: If I take on a task I will see it through to the end I am committed to making Tumbler Ridge an even better place to live and work. My greatest attribute I bring is my commitment to the people of Tumbler Ridge and my dedication towards finding solutions.
Rose: Community-mindedness. I believe my years in Tumbler Ridge and the many volunteer groups and organizations ,indicate my dedication to Tumbler and our residents .
Tim: I bring the last three years of council as experience and being able to retire at the age of 52 has taught me money management and budgeting.
Will: Being a long time resident who is choosing to raise my family here. My family brought me here when I was just a child, and raised me here. I moved away to complete my trade, but moved back here to raise my family and show them the beauty and freedom of small town living. I knew the town, and I know the town, and know which direction it needs to go to become even better.
The District is a multi-million dollar endeavor. What experience and skills do you bring to the table to manage a corporation of this size?
Darryl: I have owned my own business for 14 yrs making budgets and trying to hit that target or coming in under budget. I’m a people person easily approached and believe in accountability and action
Helen: I have actively built, managed and co-partnered a sustainable business in Tumbler Ridge. I was born and raised in Dawson Creek and moved here with my partner 12 years ago when the mines shut down the first time and Oil & Gas was booming. We bought a house, and with one truck went ‘all-in’ investing in Tumbler Ridge. We purchased land and built a shop/office at fair market value. I am responsible for hiring qualified employees and organizing further training, negotiating jobs & have developed an audited Health, Safety, Environment program that qualifies us to work for major Oil Companies, Mines, Forestry, Windmill projects. We diversified due to Industry leaving the area and expanded our operation by purchasing land from the District at fair market value. Bottom line, Income has to be more than wages and expenses to stay in operation. And as a business we donate and sponsor many community organizations and events on a regular basis. As a person I also have volunteered throughout my life and work at team building to strengthen and make something ongoing.
Joanne: I would manage it like my own home. First, spend money on all the things I have to, but don’t want to. The left over money…if any…have to consider everyone in the picture its a group decision, then spend it wisely and not waste it on stupid things. Last and the hardest. Put it into savings, not spend it at all!
Marcel: Currently, I have been working with a $750,000 budget in the work I am doing. It has been reduced substantially, due to some of my problem solving initiatives and we are actually running more efficiently by cutting some wasteful practices. We need people in chambers to take ownership of the projects they are responsible for; to do the homework. We currently have a, part time chambers that take extravagant trips on our taxpayers dime. With technology today we should be alleviating such waste and only send one representative; the Mayor while everyone else can teleconference the same meeting. “Integrity”
Mike: Proven track record of accomplishment within the senior management ranks of the Bank of Montreal in three divisions across Canada (British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario divisions). Successfully served several terms as both mayor and councillor in Tumbler Ridge and as a councillor in Dawson Creek.
Rob: Most importantly, I know how to work within a budget. However having served for six years I know that if I require financial information I will talk to our CFO. If there is a project I would like to see undertaken I will talk to Town Council, our Economic Development Officer and our CAO. I have run a success business in TR for approximately nine years and the same principles would apply.
Rose: Having served two previous terms has provided me with the experience required.
Tim: Dedication to the community and all who live in it.
Will: I started my company here in Tumbler Ridge with one piece of equipment and successfully sold it six years later with 11 pieces of equipment. I know how to read financial statements, interpret the information and make suggestions to either increase revenue or decrease costs, resulting in a more profitable bottom line. In my present job I’m an active member of our companies much larger budgeting process and review financial statements on a weekly basis. My business sense and ability to think outside the box, willingness to learn and try new methods for success, ability to find solutions and resolve complex issues are all key advantages that I possess.
What is the biggest obstacle you face in doing this job (potential conflict of interests? Personal commitments? A work schedule that means you’d miss all the meetings?
Darryl: My biggest obstacle is politics are new to me so if elected I have lots to learn and look forward to gaining knowledge. Conflicts of interest: I have belonged to the Tumbler Ridge Lions club for the last six years. I belong to TR day’s society as a director. I am also employed by BC Ambulance. I will remove myself from any discussion about these organizations. If elected to council, it is a huge time commitment, but when I decided to run for council I knew of the time needed as I have in past been a regular at council meetings. I know if elected I will give 100 percent to attend all meetings so I can to represent the residents of Tumbler Ridge.
Helen: I am in a position to arrange my work schedule around meetings and in the next few years could be semi-retired. I am very interested in making a commitment for four years to see if I can make a difference.
Joanne: The greatest obstacle for me will be getting all the right information needed before making a “vote” or decision.
Marcel: The biggest obstacle I face is to have my vote not count in council! That meaning when people vote during the election process only vote for the people that you know will be effective on council. By simply filling in the numbers for a full ballot, you may split the vote. You will then be a party to allowing someone you do not want on council an extra vote. That is a very dangerous thing to do, so please only vote for the people you want in chambers.
Mike: My biggest challenge will be to convince a minimum of three other members of council to support my initiatives and my point of view.
Rob: My work schedule IS Town Council as I am retired. On the question of a conflict of interest, there have been occasions I have had to remove myself from a conversation or a vote that pertained mostly to a committee that I sit on. My own rule is that if you have to ask yourself if it is a conflict…it is!!!
Rose: At this point, not yet being elected provides the biggest obstacle to serving as Councillor. Work will not be an issue in being able to attend meetings. I am aware of the aspects of conflict of interest situations, Bias and perception of bias, etc. almost everyone may find themselves in potential conflict of interest,at one point or other, it’s having the knowledge to excuse oneself , from those situations, that will prove beneficial.
Tim: I do not find any obstacles facing me to do this job at this time as I am retired for the most part. I am a dedicated and involved member in the community.
Will: If I am elected councilor it will be a priority for me. I am a committed person who often juggles many commitments and priorities. The biggest obstacle I face in doing this job is the on call nature of the business I’m in. We often work at odd hours and have ever changing schedules or no schedules at all, and with the downturn in the District of Tumbler Ridges work opportunities, I will have to travel more for my employer.
What’s the biggest challenge facing this town?
Darryl: The challenge for Tumbler Ridge for next few years will be that the mines are going to the idling stages. So we need to attract other industry or try are hardest too. We also need to promote are town to let people know what we have to offer when they come to check out are area.
Helen: I think the biggest challenge facing Tumbler Ridge is being a ‘mine’ town and managing a budget.
Joanne: Diversifying the economy. I think to diversify the economy you have to sell the idea of living here first. The way the outside perceives us comes from how we see ourselves. When asked “How are things in Tumbler with the mines closing”?. I answer….no better place to be unemployed! Sell our lifestyle, people will move here and work somewhere else. Up the population, up businesses.
Marcel: The biggest challenge facing Tumbler Ridge is who becomes elected as Mayor and Council. We have the old mentality of a coal town, a mining town. It does not matter who is in the Mayors chair or on council the mines will return without us doing anything the coal is here. The same goes for Forestry, Oil and Gas we have no control as to what happens in these industries. We do have some control, I believe we had an opportunity to have a biomass power generating plant here not sure what happened to that? Regarding the Wind Turbine projects, as to what we want for taxes, think of the long-term district tax opportunity. Not the short term … once they are built, and occupying the land they have to pay taxes, if any project deserves a tax break it would be these projects, think long-term viability. Every time I travel to DC I smile when going through the windmill farm, CLEANEST energy we have.
Mike: Implementing the strategies outlined within our newly completed comprehensive sustainability plan which encompasses the input provided by the residents of Tumbler Ridge.
Rob: Diversification of a single industry town that is off the main highway and retaining a permanent population.
Rose: The biggest challenge facing the town has always been here, and that is being a predominantly a single resource community. This is not new and we will be facing the same issue twenty years from now if we do not continue to move toward a more diversified town. There are a few more opportunities now , than we had readily available in 2000 when the mines first closed. Gas and oil, wind power, forestry and tourism have seen a marked increase. Now is the time to ensure a continued positive growth toward a stable diversified community.
Tim: The biggest challenge facing the town is to keep the population stable. With this comes a more stabilized economy and foundation to build on.
Will: Diversification of the economy. We need to find ways to encourage new industries to start in Tumbler Ridge and support them through providing the services they need to succeed. ie) Forestry- sawmill, pellet plant, biofuel, or co-generation Tourism—Geopark, adventure tourism. But we can’t forget about the industries that got us here. ie) coal mines, natural gas production, and wind energy. They also need our help to develop and we need to help other small business get started that service these industries.
With the mines—historically the largest employers and economic drivers of this town—now idled, what is one concrete thing that can be done to help diversify the economy?
Darryl: See answer to previous question.
Helen: Tumbler Ridge is ‘rich’ in natural resources and is surrounded by Industry and natural beauty. We have Oil & Gas, Tentative Wind Farms, pipelines (LNG), the Geopark, Forestry and the Mines will be back (one is still operating). I think we need to communicate better with the people who live here and the people who we wish to come, whether it is for business or pleasure. Diversification is happening now with the Geopark and new tourist info centre. However, I think residents are discouraged when they see District spending money on face lifts; ie Golf Course, Community Centre and building new structures when they are struggling and unsure of Tumbler Ridge’s stability and their homes. Diversification will continue if the District grows and allows small business to re-establish.
Joanne: See answer to previous question.
Marcel: People may not like the answer but it is tourism, this is a great opportunity for everyone looking to start their own business, and as a community we have to realize this! We have control over this, everything else is up to others, let’s take control of our town!! From zip lines, canoe rentals, guiding, mountain bike rentals, kayak rentals, heli-skiing, trail rides (horses), overnight camp trips, survival courses, the list is endless. Have said it before and I will say it again this is Jasper except we OWN our properties. The Wolverine Nordic Mountain Society, Museum Foundation, has done the hard work; they still need volunteers to help extend everything that has already been done. Time to step up people embrace what we have; people spend millions on recreational fun…
Mike: In my opinion, there are no quick single answers to these questions. A commitment by the newly elected council to implement our community’s sustainability plan is critical. The sustainability action areas are the critical components that influence our community’s ability to become sustainable. These are: housing and income, health, safety and social services, recreation, sport, arts and cultural programs, the economy, education, our natural environment, municipal infrastructure and finally, civic engagement. Plans have been developed for each of these components with indicators which will be monitored to track the impact of our sustainability plan into the future. This will be accomplished with the formation of a community “strike force/s” with Tumbler Ridge “residents” being active members.
Rob: There is no one area that will fix all our issues with diversification, however, it’s time to seriously look at various forms of Partnership Agreements that conform to The Community Charter. Partnership Agreements in Wind Energy need to be explored. Registered Guides, everything from horseback riding, hunting, hiking, to ATVs. Volunteers have got us off to a great start; it’s time for everyone to get on board. Pursue opportunities related to Oil and Gas, expand- the Community Forest to the point it can create employment. Lobby the Provincial Government to allow for 42km of rail and hydro to connect the Wapiti Coal Project to be paid for by private enterprise and to expand the District boundaries to include that property to allow us the benefits of taxation. We need a Government Building with services that can be located in town such as Game Wardens, Forestry, Training Centre for Fire Fighters, etc.
Rose: One concrete item I feel would be to continue with “Sustainability Plan”, initiated by the current council. The process has offered the community as a whole to provide input as to the desires and future possibilities in growth and diversity.
Tim: There is not one concrete thing to stabilize and diversify the economy but a combination of many areas to contribute to this.
Will: The mines are a huge part of the TR economy, But don’t forget about the Natural gas production that comes out of Tumbler Ridge. The one concrete thing we can do is create places (land, acreages, buildings) to help smaller business get their start, and to encourage new people to move to Tumbler. But the cost of these places need to be affordable, why not even auction off a few properties to get the ball rolling?
When the mines were running, there were many people who were renting apartments, coming in for their week on, then going back home during their week off. What services need to be offered in town to make Tumbler Ridge a more desirable place for families to move?
Darryl: We have a great community we have lots of services here. We now have two dentists that have opened here thanks to the past council and mayor working hard to attract. We do need other services like a chiropractor. The biggest answer is to the changing of the shifts at the mine to get families to make Tumbler Ridge home, which will attract other services and businesses
Helen: I feel that most people that choose to live in Tumbler Ridge like small town life and the wilderness. They also like to go out of town to shop and being close to Alberta has always been another issue. I want the coffee shops, the tacky tourist shops, to start up, get established in TR before the next boom or when the mines re-open or the tourists start coming. I want to see small business building in TR. With the mines leaving it will give small business a chance to recruit employees at wages they can afford. We also need to support the few that we have here. If we don’t support local they will be forced to close.
Joanne: I think we have great services. Keeping them all going is the important thing. Adding more services that enhance the quality of life is important. I have so many ideas, our residents have so many great ideas. They revolve around the Arts, sports and Recreation and Education. I’d love to see some of the ideas come alive.
Mike: There is no quick answer to this question, but services that need to be offered in Tumbler Ridge to make it more desirable for families to move here would include: A) a diverse and affordable range of housing with costs that mirror the range of income levels that are and will be present in Tumbler Ridge. B) Adequate medical services C) Provincial and federal services D) Programs that appeal to a range of interests and ages, foster talent in recreation, sport and the arts; and celebrate culture s of all kinds, E) Exploring ways to ensure that Tumbler Ridge is resilient to change in the resource economy is the most significant factor, F) Availability of education opportunities to residents of Tumbler Ridge – k-12 and secondary education is critical , access to post-secondary education, G) Life-long learning opportunities are important, H) Develop a strategy of civic engagement to involve individuals, groups and businesses in the implementation of our sustainability plan.
Rob: We all came here from somewhere else and stayed for various reasons. Beautiful town, relatively crime free, quiet, good paying jobs, affordable housing, fantastic outdoor activities, etc. We need to make Tumbler Ridge a more family friendly place to be by adding some of the amenities that larger centres have. Services for a variety of ages.
Rose: I feel most of the services “needed” are already available in Tumbler Ridge. There are many business opportunities that may be currently lacking for some in town. As far as people coming for seven on, and then leave on their days off, well a lot of that would change if shifts were not seven days. The town was filled with employees and families in the past, with four and four shifts. What makes Tumbler desirable to many is what we don’t have as much as what we do. While we don’t have shopping malls, movie theaters and other options, we also don’t have pollutions, long line ups, two hour traffic jam, or having to wait a month to see a doctor. We offer the great outdoors, clean air, great water and services at a reasonable rates and so much more. There are many options and programs for all ages offered through volunteer groups , the Community Centre and schools ,to name a few. Building on the natural surroundings and selling what we DO have will be attractive for those seeking a wonderful place to call home!
Tim: I believe the services that are offered in town already make this a desirable place. When the mines return it would be a best case scenario if they would return to a 4 on 4 shift to keep people here to buy homes and live here which would bring business and diversify the town.
Will: The time line you speak of was 2005 until now.(Population never exceeded 2800) The timeline I want to see is 1984-1997. (Population was nearly 5000) During that period people worked a 4 and 4 schedule, this made it so people had to move here and bring their FAMILIES. With more people actually residing here, it makes it easier for small businesses that serve the people to get started and succeed. Bring the population and the services will come, not the other way around.
Tumbler Ridge is an expensive place. People don’t like to shop here because the prices are high, businesses can’t open up here because the rents are too high, landowners can’t charge less because the taxes are too high. What needs to happen to make Tumbler Ridge a better place to live and do business?
Darryl: As a business owner, I try to be competitive. I’m also a local supporter of the other businesses we have, and believe in shopping the flyer saves us money. The more we support our local businesses, the more it will attract others to open here. With that being said, taxes need to be at the top of all candidates’ minds. Mill rates should be looked at to see if they can be adjusted. This will also help attract more businesses. Our total yearly budget needs to be looked at compared to towns our size.
Helen: TR had an amazing sale on homes during the last mine closure that brought many people here to invest and live. Can we do that for business? I also want to readdress taxes, the assessed value and mill rates, as an option for assisting residential and business. It all comes down to Budget and Money Management and not overspending.
Joanne: This is already a great place to live. For the 17 years I’ve lived here this has been the question. Businesses. How do we get more? We need more people. Population. Until then lets make sure our roads are safe. For now, this fact remains, after buying what we can locally, we will need to travel out for the rest.
Mike: See answers to question seven and eight.
Rob: This is one of the most important issues we face. We have watched our downtown core be transformed from retail to office space and the impact it has had on the local retailers that were renting in that area. On Feb 17, 2014 I introduced a change to bylaw #613 which stated: 14.3 “AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE MAY NOT BE LOCATED ON THE GROUND FLOOR OF A BUILDING IN THE C1 ZONE” The C1 Zone is our downtown core and if passed by Council there are rules that have to be observed, such as: 1) Existing offices would not be forced to vacate, however if they voluntarily left, there would be a six month window that this space would still be available to be leased as office space, 2) If however after 6 months the area was still vacant the Bylaw #613 would apply and it would become retail-space again. This change has been voted on and has had first and second reading, however I made a motion to table it due to the recent layoffs. If elected and when things return to normal, I intend to reintroduce this motion and will request that Class-6 (Small Business) tax rates be reviewed to see if an adjustment is required. Incidentally tax rates for Class 6 small business has been reduced in the past 5 consecutive budgets. From there the market will determine the rental rates.
Rose: What needs to be done to make Tumbler Ridge a better place to live? The obvious answer at this time, would be have the jobs return tomorrow and have the businesses that have shut, reopen and have the families return along with economic stability. I believe Tumbler is already a great place to live. Rents are in the control of the owners of the buildings, to which the District has neither the ability nor the right to control. Perhaps one possible way that may improve the business perception, is by reviewing the current bylaws and see how they may be helping or hindering business growth.
Tim: I believe the services that are offered in town already make this a desirable place. When the mines return it would be a best case scenario if they would return to a 4 on 4 shift to keep people here to buy homes and live here which would bring business and diversify the town.
Will: I disagree that Tumbler Ridge is an expensive place to live. Yes we may pay more for goods than what they pay in GP, but that’s AB no provincial sales tax for one, and what do they, and Dawson Creek and FSJ have that we don’t? Population Numbers!! It’s your simple supply and demand scenario. We have limited choices of where to shop in TR.(low supply) Our population, and our transient workers vie for the same products(high demand) Prices go high and stay high. Why could you buy a house here at one time for $25-50,000.00? High supply and low demand, lower prices. But if you look at our houses here in TR, for the most part, you have a well-built home, with a decent size lot, that is much more affordable than one in FSJ, DC or GP. However, if we create land options: acreages, building lots, business areas, industrial areas, this will in turn open up SUPPLY and will then make rents, building leases, and other options more affordable. Where else can you get a golf membership, join hockey, soccer, get a gym pass, go swimming, curling, as affordable as we enjoy? We just need more of these types of options. the plus side, at least it’s too my face. But it’s even more harmful when comments like that are made behind somebody’s back. When we talk about others with disdain and hate. And when you talk like that, at least to me, I learn as much about you and how you treat people as I do about the person you’re talking about.