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CANDIDATE: Gary Smith (GF -- Council)
In 2003, I moved here with my wife, Carolyn, from Abbotsford. Back then, I started an agricultural consulting business and currently work with two of the largest nurseries in our area. We still very much love living here and are delighted to have two of our grown children in the valley with us, as well as our two grandchildren. Over the years, I have contributed to many volunteer organizations and boards. I spent six years as a Firefighter and First Responder on the Volunteer Fire Department. Through volunteering, I have learned a lot about the community we live in and the people who make it work. In 2011, I chose to use what I had learned and take on that greater challenge of helping to lead Grand Forks toward a future of greater vibrancy, prosperity and community connectedness. Upon being elected in 2011, I set about those things that were of keen interest to me: economic development, urban deer, and our environmental challenges.
On the City’s environmental challenges, the committee I have co-chaired can report that our City is well on its way to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Typically, the carbon offsets we pay for would go into the Pacific Carbon Trust. Instead, Council supported putting those funds into a City managed Climate Action Reserve account in order to help fund local initiatives in increasing carbon neutrality. In 2012, I organized the collection of unmarked, obsolete, and unwanted pesticides in Grand Forks and area. Several hundred pounds were safely disposed of through a federal program, including 2 drums of pesticides that had not been registered for use for decades. Also, I worked at getting several bat-houses put up around town to help reduce the reliance on pesticides for mosquito control.
As Chair of the deer committee, I can report that we are undertaking measures to address the large population in City limits. We have hired a WildSafe BC Coordinator to provide a large education piece on the impacts of human behaviour on deer, we are proceeding with the tagging and collaring of a small number to look at patterns of behaviour, we have a referendum question on the ballot to determine if there is support for a deer cull as a management option, and the recent meeting with Minister Steve Thomson has resulted in a commitment to the establishment of a ministry supported committee to address urban wildlife: a significant move forward in the Province accepting responsibility in the matter.
As co-chair of the Economic Development Advisory Committee, we achieved many of the goals we had set for ourselves. The branding exercise, which involved a great deal of community consultation and input, resulted in a package that stands out in the design world. Marketing materials, including a comprehensive economic profile, videos, and a prominent place on a digital billboard entering Kelowna all contribute to a positive profile. In attending the last two Economic Development Association of BC conferences, I have had the opportunity to learn from the best and to make and reinforce many contacts in the industry. In fact, as a direct result, our City will be making presentations at the end of October to the Provincial Nominee Program and to the Urban Development Institute to pitch Grand Forks to qualified persons and companies looking for a community to invest in. By highlighting our under-utilized airport, we have a local business looking to set up shop at the airport that could employ 20 or more skilled jobs. These initiatives, and many others, led to our City receiving the prestigious, “Open for Business Award” at this year’s UBCM Conference.
What three things do you think need addressing in Grand Forks?
Over the next four years I would like to continue on those committees and work with Council in building on those successes. There is still much to be done. Also, I would like to work towards the establishment of a Youth Council, empowered and supported by Council, which would meet regularly to discuss, plan, and make recommendations to City Council around issues that are relevant and important to youth. I believe this could lead to the development of sound policies and initiatives that could make Grand Forks more attractive to families and, just as importantly, keep the youth we have.
With our asset management plan in place we need to keep ourselves at the fore with the provincial and federal governments so that they continue to recognize that we are actively undertaking the work that qualifies us for infrastructure funding. We need them as financial partners, referring to the borrowing bylaw in 2011, so that the burden of paying for necessary upgrades does not fall solely upon taxpayers. Among other things, that means completing the water meter installation.
The recent Vital Signs report indicated that transportation is a key issue on the minds of boundary residents of all ages. The HandyDart is the public transportation in the Boundary and is limited to weekdays and travels only between Greenwood and Grand Forks. Rides must currently be booked in advance. I would like to explore the potential for expanded service, possibly including Christina Lake. The benefits could be many, including offering youth a better means of getting around the Boundary and for further meeting future carbon-neutrality targets.
These are a few of my interests that have developed by listening to the many voices in our community and by researching the successes and challenges of other communities throughout the Province and throughout Canada.
What are three words that describe you?
Ready, willing, able
What else do you want the public to know about you?
I am a critical thinker and do my best to research the facts, weigh the evidence, and make rational decisions. That is not to say I can’t be passionate about ideas and pursue them with energy and conviction, but too much emotional investment can cloud reason and sound judgement. Reason and sound judgement are the backbone of good governance. I stand for good governance.