Recently, we posed a bunch of questions to all the candidates, which they have since responded to. As part of our on-going, around the clock election coverage, we present to you these, their answers sorted alphabetically by first name.
What is your name?
Bev: Bev Fournier
Don: Don McPherson
Garret: Garret Golhof
Why are you running for council?
Bev: I don’t sit back and criticize what others have done. This is my time to give back to our town and help secure the future of Tumbler Ridge.
Don: I love this town. I have lived here for over 30 years. I have a great life here and I want to give something back.
Garret: I am running for Mayor to give the residents of Tumbler Ridge another choice to help lead us through this unknown and uncertain future. Not only locally but nationally and globally as well. I have been motivated to do this because I feel I am the best person for this task bringing common sense and people skills to the table.
What’s the single greatest attribute you bring?
Bev: My single greatest attribute is that I am a hard working person that doesn’t give up and I always continue to follow up even after the projects are complete.
Don: My experience as a councilor, a business man and a blue collar worker. I am a down to earth, common sense solution kind of guy.
Garret: Hard question to me as I have many great attributes. Let’s put hard working down for this one. Those that know me can attest to when given a task I work very hard and complete it as quickly as I can to go on to the next project.
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.
Bev: I was a manager in a large department store chain purchasing millions of dollars in inventory annually and supervised a sales staff of 40. I also owned my own jewelry and gift store with an inventory greater than half the District annual tax allotment. I also have an excellent understanding of accounting and budgeting.
Don: I have successfully run my own companies most of my working life. Large corporations run on the same principle. You have to have the right people in the right places and ensure they have the proper tools and training.
Garret: I have been in charge and worked on many big projects in the oil and gas and mining industries. I understand how to keep an eye on all aspects of large projects for a, successful completion. Running a multi-million dollar budget is no different than running my business or my personal income budget. It is just a bigger number to work with. One must remember to pay your bills and stay out of debt.
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?
Bev: I have no conflicts in my life to prevent me from attending any and all Council functions required by the Mayor.
Don: I am semi- retired. There is always the possibility of conflicts of interests and personal commitments. I would deal with them if and when they arise.
Garret: Good question but for me I see no conflict of interest, personal commitments or work schedule issues on the table. Just to make sure, as soon as I am elected mayor, my company will not do any work for the District of Tumbler Ridge for the duration of my term. I have realized going into this election, how serious this job will be and have already decided that it will come before my company that is next to idle at this time. I intend to be spending much of my time in my office down at city hall.
What’s the biggest challenge facing this town?
Bev: Tumbler Ridge will always exist but it will take the foresight and effort of all of Council to make our town thrive through adversity.
Don: Jobs. We have to diversify our economy and develop local jobs. We have opportunities in wind energy, forestry, oil & gas, tourism, just to name a few. These opportunities, some of which the ground work has been started, have to be pursued to the fullest.
Garret: The biggest challenge at this moment is for you the people of Tumbler Ridge to pick (vote in) the best seven people that can get along and help Tumbler Ridge not only survive but flourish the next four years and beyond.
With the mines—historically the largest employers and economic drivers of this town—now idled, what is one concrete things that can be done to help diversify the economy?
Bev: One thing that can be done to help diversify the economy is to market what we have and create a new Tumbler Ridge from our existing potential. I have many ideas both old and new for staff to investigate.
Don: Wind farms projects that are ready to go are waiting only on a purchase agreement, a change in Government policy is needed for them to proceed. This is only a short term fix. The Community Forest, if expanded could attract some sort of mill. The Geopark offers lots of opportunities for tour operator endeavors. These are only a few possibilities.
Garret: The one thing that needs to happen is approved land and tax incentives to big and small businesses. We have to work with the federal and provincial governments and come up with ways to bring people here to stay. There are many good ideas out there. For the area re: bottled water, quad and snowmobile tours, ski hill, camping guides, log homes, art school, music recording studio, and the list goes on. Tax incentives for capital investments are the way to go. It’s working for Nevada it will work here.
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?
Bev: The heart of Tumbler Ridge is our Community Centre. District staff will keep on improving programs to increase usage and Council should consider making the use of the Rec Centre free to all District tax payers and their families. Many people can no longer afford to place their children in hockey, figure skating and swimming. Let’s do something about this situation!
Don: I would like to see a thriving downtown sector. Everything from clothing stores to sporting goods. I acknowledge our local businesses as they try to offer everything we need but they only have so much room. I think competition is good for both the customer and the business. Also on my wish list are things like a privately run theater and bowling alley.
Garret: We can improve services and that would be good, but I personally know people that are foreclosing on their mortgages and going through a scary time in their lives. People need hope, Tumbler needs more vision. This is mining town and we need to think outside the box and use what we have now, with other intuitive ideas to make Tumbler Ridge a more stable, prosperous community.
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 expand because the taxes are too high and on it goes. What needs to happen to make Tumbler Ridge an easier place to live? An easier place to do business?
Bev: I believe in free enterprise. In the south, people travel 100 Km or more to shop at different malls even though the same stores may be available within 3 Km from their home. Council can’t govern what people do with their time, money or how much they charge for rent. Competition reduces prices. If you are financially strong and pick the right market, you can start a business anywhere no matter what rents or the taxes cost. There are spaces offered for rent in town that are 20% lower than others. There are many existing businesses in Tumbler Ridge that are thriving through good times and bad.
Don: The hard thing on business is the up and down of our economy which makes it unattractive for investors. Logistics play a roll in the cost of goods, and those costs are passed on to the consumer. Taxes have been lowered over the last few years which gives some relief to business. Rent is out of council’s control. It is a supply and demand market. I have been in business in Tumbler when it was the best time and when it was the worst time. It all relates back to a diversified sustainable economy which would attract business.
Garret: Local government is procedure and policy based but I will do my best to make it easy for small and large businesses to succeed by removing or changing existing bylaws so people will feel Tumbler Ridge to be a business friendly environment. We will also go a step further and accept any proposal that requires any extra help that the District can offer through a transparent and open fair process.
Next week: candidates for council and school board trustee.