Powell River is a great place to live. I am running for mayor because I believe my government, business and non-profit experience would allow me to work with councillors, city staff and residents to make Powell River an even greater place to live.
No one person in Powell River, whether mayor, councillor, business leader or community volunteer can by themselves make substantial change. However, I am confident that I can bring together diverse groups of individuals with varied experience and expertise to make Powell River better. Over the past 40 years I have been successful in building teams to bring about positive change in the communities I have lived and for the organizations I have worked for, both in Canada and abroad.
Over the past few months I have talked with residents about what they would like the Mayor and Council to achieve over the next 4 years. Below is a list of some those issues that I would use my leadership to accomplish.
My focus would be on attracting established non-polluting companies with a proven track record to expand their operations in to Powell River. Focus would be on companies with good paying jobs like Electronic Arts (EA a software and games development company). EA currently employs approximately 800 employees in their Burnaby BC headquarters. I served with the Vice President of EA while on the Board of Science World and I believe that they could be approached. Other opportunities include boat building and repair. Surplus buildings and land at the mill could be leased at attractive rates for companies relocating to Powell River especially those requiring access to water.
I have experience in starting up both high-tech and low-tech companies. In 1995 I co-founded Toi Kinnoir Inc. (TKI). The company developed a computer software program that assisted radiologists interpret ultrasound images. Toi Kinnoir was the first startup headquartered in the Ottawa Life Sciences Technology Park. In recognition of my innovative work at TKI I was the 1996 recipient of the National Innovative Manager Award by the Ottawa Life Sciences Council.
While CEO of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network I negotiated an agreement with Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan (ITRI) which led to a joint venture with Phalanx Biotech Group that used Taiwan’s microchip expertise and Canada’s DNA patents to create microchips for health research.
In 1997, I was hired by Oakey Investments Ltd., a private Hong Kong company, as the CEO to salvage a $12 million US investment in a water park/residential project in Huairou County China, 50 km northeast of Beijing. When I was hired the project was only 20% completed and China Construction had ceased work after advising Oakey that the project would cost $32 million rather than the original fixed cost bid of $12 million. Working with engineering professors from Beijing University, I re-negotiated the construction contract with China Construction and the project was completed in June 1998.
As mentioned in “My Powell River Story” I was the project manager for a subdivision of 850 acres on Hardy Island into 21 lots. During this process I worked with provincial governmental departments, the Sunshine Coast Regional District and The shíshálh Nation.
Any economic development can give rise to potential conflicts of interest. As an Adjunct Professor in the School of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph, I was often invited to speak on the management of conflicts interest. As noted in “My PR Story” an important factor in my decision to run for Mayor is that I would have no real or perceived conflicts of interest for any economic development opportunity. The only thing Susan and I own in Powell River is our house and our boat.
There was unanimous agreement among the residents I spoke with that The Inn at Westview must be removed. I would begin working immediately after inauguration with Councillors and staff to insure this is completed no later than the end of 2019 at no cost to taxpayers.
I have a broad-based understanding of both health issues and the technical issues of hazardous material management from my formal education in the sciences (BSc. Chemistry and Ph.D. Pharmaceutical Chemistry) and from my experience in the following positions:
- Executive Director of the Arthritis Society of BC and Yukon
- CEO of the Advanced Food and Materials Network
- CEO of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network
- CEO of the BC Hazardous Waste Corporation
- Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto, School of Environmental Studies
- Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia – Centre for Environmental Labeling
I have already offered the owner of The Inn at Westview to use my contacts with professors of environmental engineering to identify innovative solutions to remove this toxic building.
Efficient, Effective and Responsive Municipal Government
Small businesses and home builders have voiced the concern that applications are taking too long to process. This needs to be addressed if we are going to attract new businesses and retain existing ones which would have a positive impact on the property and commercial tax rates. As Mayor, I would work with the Chief Administrative Officer to insure that adequate resources are available to allow timely processing of applications.
I would also propose the establishment of an economic development committee that would recommend ways of streamlining existing approval processes. The committee could also act as a strong advocate for companies that wish to relocate to Powell River.
I have a solid understanding of the workings of all 3 levels of government in Canada, municipal, provincial and federal. As the President of the South Armour Heights Ratepayers Association in Toronto I spent many hours working with Council addressing Committee of Adjustments, attending hearings, communicating with City Councillors on neighbourhood issues and updating residents on local issues through public meetings and newsletters. I understand the importance of good working relationships among the elected officials (mayor and council) and the chief administrative officer and his staff. There are always going to be challenges in meeting the needs and expectations of residents of any community. However, a positive, supportive and open relationship between the mayor, city staff and residents makes it much easier to find win-win solutions.
I have also worked as a Senior Environmental Planner for Alberta Environment and as the Chief of Staff for the federal Environment Minister in Ottawa. In the latter role I was involved in the negotiation of environmental agreements between the federal government and provinces which had a direct impact on municipalities.
Powell River is fortunate to have Nicholas Simons, as our 4-term MLA and caucus member of the NDP government of BC. I will work closely with Nicholas to insure that Powell River has access to development and special pilot project grants.
I believe that key municipal decisions must be made with timely and informed input from citizens, their ratepayer associations and business owners. I would work with Council and City staff to improve the public consultation process by providing full disclosure of potential opportunities and impacts as soon as they are made available to Council. I would also recommend to Council a committee representing ratepayer associations, citizens, business owners and community organizations be formed to advise Council on important public issues. At present there are 3 ratepayer associations in Powell River; Wildwood, Cranberry and Townsite. I have met with the Presidents of each and have initiated discussions with residents of Westview to establish their own ratepayers association.
Open and transparent government can be seen as a threat to the status quo. I see it as an opportunity to benefit from the experience and expertise of those citizens who want to help make Powell River a better place to live.
In my 40 years of experience as a Board member of Canadian charitable organizations I have learned the importance of open and timely communications. My Board experience includes Science World BC, the BC Children’s and Family Research Institute, The Healthy Heart Society of BC, the Van Dusen Botanical Garden Association (Vancouver) and the North South Institute (Ottawa ON) whose goal is to help reduce global poverty and inequality.
Financial, Budgets and Controls
I have 40 years experience of developing and stewarding budgets for non-profit, for-profit and Crown corporations. The budget process is always a challenging job as the cost of existing and potential new projects and programs always exceed the anticipated revenue. When I was the Product Quality Supervisor at Imperial Oil my combined operating and capital budget was similar in size to Powell River’s 2017 budget. As report in The Peak, this year the City has cut back $420,000 from the total unfunded amount of approximately $600,000 in capital project requests. In addition, a $158,000 shortfall remains to be bridged in the day to day operations budget in order to balance finances. I believe it is important that residents have a good understanding of the City’s financial position. I will work with Council on a report which will summarize for tax payers all important unfunded capital projects and the accumulated surplus funds. This will allow them to have a better understanding of the City’s total financial picture.
Over the last 15 years many BC coastal communities have made it a priority to revitalize their waterfront and downtown core areas. As a result they have seen a significant increase in small businesses and tourism. Powell River has the most beautiful coastal location in BC. I would chair a committee to look at different options including relocation of the highway and making Marine Avenue and Willingdon Avenue one-way.