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If 2011 was a year for growth and learning, then 2012 will be about getting recognition. With numerous potential upcoming projects in the resource industry, including the proposed Site C dam, Ackerman wants to make sure the city can take advantage of the work needed.

“We are a small city, but we need to be recognized for the contributions we make to this province, and we need to ensure that the province recognizes Fort St. John and allows our businesses and our residents the opportunity to take full participation in these projects.”

Even more work will be created with the opening of the new hospital, and the beginning of building a new fire hall. That all means having enough people to fill the jobs, bringing us to Ackerman’s next focus for the new year: attracting skilled workers to the city through a workplace initiative.

“Enough of this crying about not having enough skilled workers; let’s build a community where they want to come. We have to really focus on the quality of life and community attractiveness, and how those can assist us in influencing the attraction of skilled workers.”

Another priority for Ackerman and the new city council will be connecting with the community.

“We’ve heard a lot from community that they’re we’re not connecting with them, so we have to discover that way to do that.”

Already, that includes a newsletter sent out monthly by council, to give their perspective on what’s happening in the city, as well as increased social networking, including applying for jobs online.

In addition to the workforce initiative, Ackerman sees a need to work with both Victoria and Calgary to reconnect our community to the decision makers. That includes getting involved in the proposed liquefied natural gas plants.

“We need to let them know that we’re very interested in having these types of facilities, this type of industry, expand in the northeast.”

Another example of a need to connect with Victoria is the city’s current taxi issue. Multiple taxi license application have been recently denied, despite public demand, as the Transportation Board believes the city holds enough licenses.

“We live in a democracy, where it’s a free market. If these gentlemen feel that they can open up a cab company and make it viable, as an entrepreneur they should be given that opportunity.”

Overall, Ackerman is looking forward to a reputation-making year, and letting everyone know Fort St. John is the “energy capital of British Columbia.”

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