What experience do you have working with First Nations?

During the last 10 years I have had the opportunity to meet First Nations, Métis and Inuit community leaders in addition to representives from major Indigenous organizations including Indspire. This experience allows a good basis for working with the Tla’amin Nation on issues of mutal importance.

In 2008 ago my wife Susan and I started the Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program. The Program addresses the under-representation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students at Canadian universities. The Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation (http://www.vernajkirkness.org) offers scholarships to Indigenous grade 11 students to support a week of hands-on education at a Canadian university where they can interact with scientists and graduate students in their research laboratories. During their week on campus students have the opportunity to meet Indigenous role models, other high school students from across Canada, explore hands-on research in university labs, live in residence, complete fieldwork, learn about the support systems available to them on campus, and experience the excitement of living and doing research in a university environment.

As of June 1, 2018 the Kirkness Program will have hosted 402 grade 11 FNMI students at the Universities of British Columbia, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ottawa and the First Nations University of Canada.  The Program has hosted 13 Tla’amin students at both the University of Manitoba and the University of British Columbia. Three students are finishing their week at UBC today May 18, 2018.

A recent article in the Calgary Herald covered the Kirkness Program University of Calgary May 7-11, 2018.

Fortney: First Nations teens get a hands-on education in the sciences


Why are you qualified to be Mayor?

While knocking on doors last week I was asked “why are you qualified to be mayor?”

To answer this question it is important to review the Community Charter which defines the responsibilities of a mayor. The Charter is available at: 


During the last couple of months there have been posts and comments on The Peak’s website and on their Facebook which indicate a lack of understanding of a mayor’s responsibilities.

First, and foremost, the mayor is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the municipality. It is their responsibility to work closely with the Chief Administrative Office (CAO) in our case, Mac Fraser, to ensure an efficient, effective and responsive municipal government. Without a solid working relationship between the CAO and the mayor, this is not possible. 

I have been the Chief Executive Officer of both corporations and national and provincial not-for-profit organizations (i.e. The Canadian Genetic Diseases Network). In these roles I have demonstrated the ability to work with a diverse group of senior managers who have responsibility for both the technical and financial aspects of a corporation.  Further as a CEO, I have initiated major agreements both in Canada and Asia to enhance the effectiveness of these organizations.  In addition to being a CEO, I have also served as the Chairman of boards of both private and public organizations (i.e. Healthy Heart Society of British Columbia). One of the key tasks of a chairman is to be the direct link between the CEO and board and is responsible for the conducting the CEO’s annual appraisal.

The second area of responsibility for the mayor is multifaceted. It includes the following: 

  1. to provide leadership to the council including recommending bylaws, resolutions and other measures; 
  2. to communicate information to the council; 
  3. to preside at council meetings; 
  4. to provide, on behalf of the council, general direction to municipal officers; 
  5. to establish standing committees; 
  6. to suspend municipal officers and employees; 
  7. to reflect the will of council and to carry out other duties on behalf of the council. 

As a CEO, Board Member, President of the South Armour Heights Rate Payers Association in Toronto and as a senior executive in the Federal government  I have significant experience in fulfilling all of these responsibilities. The mayor’s responsibility (defined in item 7 above) is very important as it requires the mayor, notwithstanding their own opinion, to reflect the will of council.  For example, if council votes in favour of a motion on which the mayor has voted against, the mayor is obligated to work with the municipal officers to insure that the council’s will is implemented.  

Throughout my career I have demonstrated the ability to work with a wide-range of individuals in order to achieve a common goal. This requires a willingness to listen and act on alternative points of view. This I have done and would do as Mayor of Powell River.  

Powell River is going through a period of growth, it has a strong real estate market and a shortage of housing options. One of the challenges for the Mayor is to ensure that all business owners, developers and builders have equal access to development opportunities. As I have no business interests in Powell River I will be able to do this without any real or perceived personal conflicts of interest.  

During the last 5 years many new residents have chosen to come to Powell River because it is a wonderful place to live. In addition to the legal responsibilities of a mayor outlined above, I believe the mayor should also engage and excite knowledgeable business and community leaders to donate time and expertise to help make Powell River an even better place to live.   With over 40 years of experience as a volunteer I know  first hand the importance of volunteerism in making a community healthy and a better place to live. 

Below is a video about my leadership skills when I received the Ottawa Life Sciences Council Innovative Manager Award. We were the first company to establish ourselves in the Ottawa Life Sciences Park. Toi Kinnor Inc. used software programs to help physicians make better use of ultrasound images for the care of their patients.

Sports and Wellness

While out campaigning on Fernwood I was asked “would you support the development of sports leagues for young and old” The fellow asking the question had grown up in Powell River playing sports and was unhappy that his boys were not having the same opportunity and that the senior leagues were gone “like the Dodo birds”.

My short answer is yes I would. My long winded answer is that I grew up playing sports, baseball, football, hockey, soccer, curling, bowling and pool. Mostly I loved every moment except for when I played goalie in the bantam  hockey league and all our games were on outdoor rinks where games were only cancelled if it was colder than -20°F. I still remember trying to get my skates off between periods so I could warm my feet near the barrel heater.

I have always believed that sports and wellness go hand in hand. When I initiated the Powell River Wellness Challenge in 2015, I hoped the challenge would encourage people to think about what type of activity would improve their wellness, walking their dog more regularly, hiking up Valentine mountain, throwing darts at the Legion, lawn bowling or playing Bocci ball at the Italian Centre. Kerri Carlson, who has done a great job as coordinator of the challenge and other wellness initiatives in Powell River tells me that the challenge did get people more active.

I believe the Mayor has a unique opportunity to support all types of sport activity for both the young and old both as an observer and a participant.

Below are a couple of videos of the Guelph Wellness Initiative which I helped develop when I was CEO of the Advanced Foods And Materials Network.

Why are you running for Mayor?

While campaigning on Michigan Street I was asked “Why are you running for mayor, are you crazy“? I had been asked this question before from people on Joyce and Dieppe Ave but not with the “are you nuts” tag on.

The answer is that I have lots of experience in government, business and community organizations that should allow me to be a very effective mayor. I have a track record of being able to work successfully with colleagues who represent a mix of political views. My focus is always on maximizing the good for the community rather than scoring political points. More importantly, I have the complete support of my wife and a hard working enthusiastic campaign team.

My team and I have been out knocking on doors having a wonderful time meeting Powell River residents from Wildwood, Cranberry and Townsite to Grief Point. To date we’ve knocked on over 900 doors with the opportunity to chat with approximately 300 people and to leave information for the others.  This has resulted in many emails and phone calls with excellent questions, wanting to thank me for running and others with suggestions of how Powell River could be improved. The enthusiasm has convinced me that we’e doing the right thing.

From my experience as president of a large rate payers association and a condo association I know that you cannot please everyone all the time. However, you can assure them that everyone is given the same information and the same opportunities.

I believe that every elected official in municipal, regional district, provincial or federal government should relate to John Kennedy’s take on elected office “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”  Simply substitute the word country for city and you have what I believe.

Opinions Based on Facts

On March 26 I received the following question on my blog I am interested in your opinion of the ALR mistake at the subdivision in lower timberlane track area?”

My opinion on this subdivision issue is that the citizens of Powell River, including myself, do not have enough information to have a reasonable opinion based on facts rather than rumour and guessing. This is the same situation for the Inn at Westview, the lawsuit against the city that was settled in 2017, the park on Marine Avenue that never happened or $213,000 given to a start-up for a climbing wall in 2016 that is still not available to the public.

Council should hold a public meeting to share with the interested public the information they have on these issues. Yes, The Peak has done stories on some of these issues, but those only provide an introduction to the issue. The public can attend Committee of the Whole meetings which are held at 3:30 on Tuesday before regular Council Meeting and ask questions at the end of the agenda but space and time are limited and does not provide Council and Mac Fraser the opportunity to prepare answers and compile background information on questions raised.  By holding a public meeting and assigning a Councillor to lead the discussion on each of these issues, the City would be putting teeth in its commitment to facilitate an informed, involved community. This was a priority identified in the 2016 Annual Report by the City on page 7:

Community Engagement – The City will facilitate the community being informed and involved in local matters and initiatives.

Yes, this would take some Council time but very little money. The reward would be an informed public, which should result in less rumour, accusations and threats of lawsuits.

I will be attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting in the Cedar Room at the Recreational Complex on April 18th from 12 to 1. Council has been invited to discuss the past 4 years in a “Question and Answer” format. Perhaps the issue of the controversy surrounding the loop road will be addressed and I will then be able to state an informed opinion. If so, I will blog again on this issue right after that meeting. The Chamber meetings are open to the public but you must RSVP to the event and the cost of this event is $20.

February 12 – News!

We’ve added new information to the website!

Read more about the local issues about which I am passionate under the ‘PR Issues’ tab: https://ronwoznowpr.com/pr-issues/

I’m also excited to be answering the different questions I have been receiving from residents. Find these under the ‘FAQ’ tab: https://ronwoznowpr.com/frequently-asked-questions/

I continue to look forward to new engagement opportunities with Powell River residents. If you’ve got a question or an issue you’d like to discuss, send a note to me here: https://ronwoznowpr.com/contact/

PR Groundswell – Update!

Last November, members of PR Groundswell, were in attendance at the November 14 city committee of the whole meeting and voiced concerns about the treatment plant and the surrounding waterfront.

I had spoken to other members of the group and examined documentation provided by contracting engineers, and the consensus among our members is the proposed options are not good enough.

It appears as if they have taken a very traditional engineering approach to treating wastewater. They haven’t put it in the context of what makes sense for the long-term good of Powell River.

Read more in the Peak’s article here: http://www.prpeak.com/news/townsite-group-pushes-waterfront-discussion-1.23113851

And stay tuned for more updates on this important project!