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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Council hopeful Morgan Robinson wants to bring a renewed vision of fiscal responsibility to the city—as well as an oil and gas industry perspective and his relative youth to the council. 

Robinson joined the race for council in Fort St. John because he wants to see changes in the city. His main frustration is financial.

“We have considerable overspending in our little Fort St. John town,” he said. “So I’d like to see some more fiscal responsibility there. That would be my main focus—as well as why I can’t drive down 100th street.”

Though he acknowledges that some advantages have certainly come from the changes to the downtown core, he says it “could have been executed differently.” 

Robinson’s degree in finance—as well as his oilfield background, he says—shape his perspective on what financial responsibility should look like. And that, he says, is not reflected in the city’s spending.

“You should really run your city like you do your own pocketbook. I’m a big believer in that…That means that you don’t spend beyond your means,” he explained.

“I know we have huge cost overruns right now going on in Fort St. John, in my understanding.”

Though city budgets across the province, Fort St. John included, have seen a rocky few years through the pandemic, whether or not the city is consistently spending beyond its means depends on how you define its pocketbook.

Fort St. John, in comparison with several similar municipalities, considers itself financially healthy.

Though Robinson does not specify what shape these overruns take, one potential source is the city’s reliance on transfers from other governments. Property tax revenue was only the city’s second largest source of revenue last year. The largest was grants from other governments, including the storied Peace River Agreement.

Though these grants are a way to build and improve infrastructure—including the 100th street updates Robinson is not impressed by—without charging taxpayers for it, they are also not a form of revenue completely within the city’s control. 

Robinson’s call for change also includes his ability to represent the oil and gas industry and those who work in it on council.

“I think we need a bit of a change from some of the stuff that’s been going on in Fort St. John. So I think I can provide… perspective from the oil and gas sector, which is a big part of what we do here,” Robinson said.

Though the oil and gas industry sees significant representation on the current council, an election may shake this up. Outgoing Mayor Lori Ackerman’s background in the resource industry was part of this, as is a current councillor’s career in the natural gas sector. 

Robinson has also been on the boards of several charities. 

Finally, he says, his voice would be distinct because of his relative youth.

“I’m only 35. I’m a little younger than maybe some of the other people that are on the board,” he said.

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Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for EnergeticCity.ca who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.