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Zurowski focused on transparency, core services, growth

The two-horse race for mayor accelerated into the top of the homestretch on Saturday as candidate Don Zurowski officially opened his campaign headquarters.
Mayoralty candidate Don Zurowski speaks the opening of his campaign office on Saturday.

The two-horse race for mayor accelerated into the top of the homestretch on Saturday as candidate Don Zurowski officially opened his campaign headquarters.

Zurowski used the opening to talk about the need to make the city's leadership more accessible, a focus on delivering core services effectively and his PG100 campaign - a call to attract new residents to the city and increase the population to 100,000 people.

"The idea is to start getting the community paying attention to the upcoming civic election - making ourselves available," he said.

The deadline for candidates to file their papers to run for office in the Nov. 15 municipal election was Friday. Zurowski, who sat on city council from 1999 to 2008, is running against current city councillor and longtime school board trustee Lyn Hall.

Zurowski and Hall both declared their intention to seek the mayor's chair in June, and there were no late entries into the running. Incumbent Mayor Shari Green is not seeking reelection after one term in office.

Zurowski said the campaign office, located at 1669 15th Ave., is one part of his commitment to openness and citizen engagement. The office will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily, starting on Monday.

Zurowski said he wants to hear what residents have to say, and urged people with ideas or concerns about the city to call him on his cellphone at 250-613-5622 or at home at 250-961-3311.

"I welcome the calls, I always have," he said.

Zurowski said, based on what he's heard from residents so far, there is a need for the city to improve its essential services and infrastructure, before taking on new projects.

"What I'm focusing on this campaign is needs before wants. Let's get back to being good at things like snow removal," he said. "It was just a number of years ago we were celebrated for our snow clearing [efficiency]. What happened? You didn't quit paying for it. I don't blame the city employees, it was leadership."

City council has to take responsibility and think carefully about the number of side projects and duties council assigns to city administration, on top of day-to-day management responsibilities.

"They are all great projects, but they can be very time consuming," he said. "You can't spend administration time like it's free."

The city's poor snow clearing, potholed roads and other infrastructure deficits are hurting residents' pride in their city and could be a detriment to attracting new residents, Zurowski said.

Attracting new residents and businesses to bring growth to the city is the focus of the PG100 plan Zurowski announced on Saturday.

Zurowski said, if elected, he intends to assemble a group of community, business, education and First Nations leaders, along with ordinary citizens, to develop a plan to increase the city's population to more than 100,000.

The city has the educational capacity, amenities and land available to accommodate a population of 100,000, he said.

"We've been stuck at around 80,000 population for way too long," he said. "We need more citizens in the community to share the costs... Let's get growing."