Dealing with the social issues downtown, the city’s aging infrastructure and improving the city’s capital project management are the top priorities for city council candidate Ron Polillo.
Polillo is finishing his first term as a School District 57 school board, where he has served as the vice-chairperson for the last year. When he ran for school board, Polillo’s daughters were students in the district, but now that they’ve graduated he is setting his sights on city council.
“Four years ago when I made the decision to run for school board, I also thought about running for city council. When I ran four years ago, my priorities were catchement, capacity and classrooms. I think over the last four years we’ve made progress on those issues,” Polillo said. “Doing what I’ve been doing for the last four years, I know the time and the energy and the commitment it takes.”
Over the last year, Polillo said he’s seen the need for change in the city.
“I feel I can bring that positive change to city council,” he said.
With a new mayor and a minimum of three new city councillors there will be space for “new energy and new ideas,” he said.
The biggest issue he’s heard from the community is around the social issues facing downtown, he said.
“it’s a very complex, difficult issue,” Polillo said.
It will take a collaborative approach with a wide-range of stakeholders, but he said he is optimistic that improvements can be made.
Developing a comprehensive plan to manage the city’s aging infrastructure will also need to be a priority of the next council, he said.
“The Coliseum is a prime example. It’s reaching the end of its life. We have a decision to make there,” Polillo said. “Will we replace it? How will it be replaced?”
Finding the best use for the $28 million reserve fund created following the conclusion of the FortisBC gas deal will be a key part of that strategy, he added.
A former city council in 2014 earmarked the money for the development of a performing arts centre, Polillo said, and he is willing to take a look at that possibility.
The elephant in the room, when it comes to city infrastructure, is the capital project management which has seen many projects go significantly over-budget, he said.
“It’s not just the parkade, that everyone talks about,” he said. “The new pool that’s being built… they increased the budget, but it’s $3 million over budget and not on time.”
While School District 57 has faced many of the same supply chain issues the city is facing, they were able to scale back projects, where needed, to deliver them on budget, he said.
Other priorities for Polillo include the city’s branding exercise and developing a concrete plan to move forward with truth and reconciliation with area First Nations, he said.
“I want to be a big part of the branding exercise for Prince George. Who are we, and how do we want to advertise ourselves to the world?” he said. “The city doesn’t have a real plan.. for truth and reconciliation.”
Currently the community residential/home sharing manager at AiMHi, Prince George’s Community Living Association, Polillo was a longtime program director and on-air personality for Pattison Media. His past and present volunteer work in Prince George includes Crimestoppers, the PG Italian Club, St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus, the Prince George Soccer Association.