Below are their answers to the second question in full (original spelling and all).

Q. How should the City prepare for Fort St. John’s expected economic growth?

Mayoral Candidates

Mike Murray

A. We need to know where that growth might be coming from before we start making arrangements to handle it. Will it be a short term boom then bust or will it be long term and gradual and thus more stable? We need a very strong analysis on this rather than acting on mere speculation and wishful thinking. There is a great deal of economic uncertainty in the world right now. Caution has to be the cornerstone consideration for any new direction.

Lori Ackerman

A. We must create a proactive plan to grow our local economy.  This includes taking a hard look at our economic development climate and ensuring that those who live and invest in our community are a part of the dialogue.  Council must ensure our community works with partners to offer the housing, training opportunities and amenities that will encourage sustainable growth.  That means meeting regularly with our major industries and together with SD60, NLC and UNBC work on a workforce enhancement strategy.  Transportation is key to economic development; we must ensure our Airport and other key transportation infrastructure are used to their highest use.  Including Alberta destinations and lower cost flights.

Don Irwin

A. Planning is the key to preparing for growth. Our Official Community Plan (OCP) that was revised this year lays out our plan for growth. The OCP was created from much citizen input and will be used to regulate where and how growth will take place.

The draft OCP is on the City website at www.fortstjohn.ca – go to the bottom of the home page where there is a graphic of a puzzle piece that says: OCP 2011 – You Plan, Your Future.

Available land, affordable housing, family services, and recreation / cultural services are all important to be able to handle growth and are included in our OCP.

Also, having a Mayor that is pro – growth and pro – business, as I am, is important when planning for economic growth.

Councillor Candidates

Byron Stewart

A. Growth is imminent. Our City Council, business sector and regional public need to unite in order for our community to thrive. We cannot predict exactly what the future will look like, but we can make decisions based on the opportunities and challenges the future may hold. We need to establish a clear vision, and we need options, initiatives and supporting business plans to allow us to achieve the vision. We need to know where and how proposed development fits within our community development plan. Housing starts, business proposals, industry expansion, schools, demographics etc. are all interwoven and must fit into the overall picture of what we want our community to look like in the future.  

We must be prepared for growth. We must have a plan for the growth that is expected. Please visit www.vote4byronstewart.com for more information.

Bruce Christensen

A. By managing the development of the land and to work towards a sustainable funding method. there is a need to create reserve’s to be able to support our infrastructure deficit.

Trevor Bolin

A. Structure, structure structure.  Fort St John is going to grow, and we need to continue planning for tomorrow, today.

Sarah Palmer

A. Economic growth inevitably results in an influx of population. As our city continues to grow and expand physically, I believe it’s important to focus on infill residential development before any major expansion of our city’s boundaries in order to prevent urban sprawl.  A mixture of single-family and multi-family units will create various options and price points for a growing population. If and when our population grows beyond the availability of infill lots and boundary expansion is needed to meet our demands, careful planning is necessary to ensure smart land use practices are adopted to maximize on our existing infrastructure and lay an efficient pattern of development for future expansion. We must be cautious of growing too large too quickly and develop in a way that is sustainable during a potential downturn in the economy and reductions to our population.

Dan Pope

A. The City is anticipating economic growth and is making steps to prepare for this growth.  We have a new hospital nearing completion, a larger fire hall under construction and plans to expand the city boundaries to accommodate an increased population.  Meanwhile we also need to maintain and improve existing services.

Carol Kube

A. Make a comprehensive plans for infrastructure and invite all stakeholders to the table to come up with ideas and implementation of such plans. Inviting stakeholders to the table gives them a vested interest in the procedure and outcome.  Lobby Government for affordable housing that meets the Bank of Canada’s 30% of disposable income criteria. By allowing people to take jobs that they are qualified to take we reduce the social costs of Income Assistance, EI and Disability. Lobbying large box stores to move to our area and lobbying the Provincial Government for specialized services at the new hospital (MRI Machine). Give tax breaks to construction projects instead of taxing them extra.

Dan Davies

A. Expected growth in our community is real! We already have a severe infrastructure deficit and a plan must be put in place to deal with it. Moving forward with subdivisions, working with businesses and planning ahead are important. We must encourage new businesses and work to expand current businesses to provide the residence with variety and capitalizing on more local shopping opportunities. We need to really look at how our airport is moving forward and explore options to capture the market and ensure that our airport remains a strong part of our community. We must ensure that all levels of government are at the table so the aforementioned issues and social issues can be mitigated and dealt with.

Brandon Joice

A. The city should pace itself, and keep its older districts on the same level of quality as new developments are brought into the fold. Through this we are able to create a strong core for our community by taking proactive action, meeting needs of the community before they arise and permitting our city to grow at a stable, uninterrupted rate.
 
Tamara Wilkinson

A. Although there are many factors in the forefront that lead us to make an educated guess as to the potential growth of our area, we need to be as cautious as possible, and count any revenue above this mark as a windfall. Site C may become a reality, which as contentious as it is, would lead to huge growth. On the other hand, if defeated, those banking on it will be caught unaware. The growth of the unconventional gas production has lead to an economic upswing already, but may end just as quickly as the rise due to the fraccing controversy.

In addition to this, we need to research the areas of growth, and stand firmly behind the support of those involved in generating the revenue.

Gord Klassen

A. We must have a Clear Community Plan, definitively outlining the vision, goals, and priorities for the future. We should carefully direct where and how proposed development will fit in with our community priorities and plan and overall picture of what we want our community to look like in the future. City and country must continue to reside next to each other and be considerate of each other as good neighbours. Infrastructure should not only be maintained, but strengthened and expanded to facilitate future growth. Keep taxes fair, plan carefully, and spend wisely.  Create an economy and an environment that is sustainable for years to come. Provide adequate health care to our residents and offer the social services that people require to live healthy and well. Emergency services must be maintained and adequately supported for the sake of our safety and protection.

Larry Evans

A. This is addressed in the Official Community plan. The city has charted the expected growth and what comes with it. Services are identified  and these include everything from water and sewer, Streetlights, police costing and the list goes on. The city knows they have to budget for these so I think the City is on the right path for the economic growth I fully expect to see.

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