This week the Prince George Citizen will be posting a six-part series: Six Questions for Six Mayoral Candidates.
The focus of the series is to allow voters to hear from the candidates running for mayor on how they would handle real issues which will be coming before the next city council. The candidate’s answers have only been edited for clarity, and are posted in alphabetical order.
QUESTION: The city currently has $28.3 million in the Fortis Reserve Fund, following the conclusion of a 17-year lease deal with FortisBC. What is your vision for how to use that money to benefit the city?
This is a great deal of money and could be the life raft the city needs to get back on a path to prosperity. The three main areas I feel this money should be spent – in order are:
Operational upgrades to existing civic facilities that desperately these upgrades to remain functional; Coliseum, Playhouse, Civic Center, etc.
Key infrastructure such as our aging water and sewer systems, roads, sidewalks etc.
If any funds remain after these two important initiatives, I would use it to pay down our debt.
With the three items above noted, this is way too much money to even think of spending without robust public consultation. At the end of the day this is the people of P.G.’s money and they ought to decide how it is spent.
We need to use this money to invest in our future, so a good chunk of it needs to go to boring but needed things, like water and sewer pipes that need replacing.
Investing in a civic centre expansion to attract more convention business and develop a civic precinct area which includes a home for arts and sports related initiatives, tied together with walkable and public spaces, and perhaps a year-round home for the markets, are an exciting legacy opportunity.
We need to stretch the money with grants from senior government levels.
Mitchell did not respond to the Citizen’s request for comment as of Friday afternoon. This story will be updated, should Mitchell respond at a later date.
The $28.3 million in the Fortis Reserve Fund: this money should be used for infrastructure upgrades and replacements.
Our infrastructure in many areas is ageing and needs to be upgraded or replaced. Using these funds in this manner will avoid further borrowing, and reduce what otherwise would be increased borrowing. This will save the taxpayers and our next generation this additional cost.
Acquisition of land to make Ginters Meadow/Field a park.
Acquisition of land as part of the city’s commitment to the BC Housing Action Plan.
There must be genuine community engagement in any long-term capital planning. Prince George’s diverse stakeholders need a seat at the table to determine community needs and to shape and prioritize capital spending priorities.
Citizens have spoken very loudly and very clearly - there is a lack of trust due to the lack transparency at city hall. We must listen to Prince George citizens and to earn back their trust.
The people of this community deserve to be heard, and this initiative will be the first of many where, as mayor, we will begin to address current transparency challenges and to build back trust in city hall.