Having been both a councilor and mayor, I understand neither has the ability to unilaterally make decisions – Mayor included. It is imperative Mayor, council and staff work together to make decisions that are best for the municipality and taxpayers as a whole. The Mayor’s role is to ensure the village’s best interests are met fiscally for the community and its residents in a positive way with guidance of staff and council.
In my 10 years as an elected official, we have accomplished many successful projects like the recent creation of the RV Park and Railway Park, rebuilt cenotaph, road re-construction projects, playgrounds, trails, refurbished tennis courts, numerous beautification projects, youth and seniors programs just to name a few and the changes have had a very positive impact throughout the Village. These successes demonstrate my ability to lead and represent Fruitvale locally, regionally and provincially.
I feel my role is just getting started. The next 4 years, as your Mayor will be an exciting opportunity to continue to move these initiatives forward in collaboration with staff and council. Initiatives like the Beaver Valley Middle School redevelopment.
After listening to residents voice their concerns over the abandoned site, council created a vision and moved forward with purchasing the property in 2017. Moving forward, our vision is to demolish the old Beaver Valley middle school, and create a multi-use residential area with affordable high-density housing, smaller homes suitable for those wanting to downsize and affordable starter homes for young families just starting out.
This development project has financial significance to our community. Roughly 95% of the Village of Fruitvale’s taxes come from residential property. The increasing costs of decaying infrastructure, continued sewer upgrades and demands for increased services puts a strain on our current tax base. We need to increase this tax base. The increased tax revenue from this project will help ensure the financial sustainability of our community. It will also increase the customer base for our local businesses and possibly attract new ones.
As your Mayor, I know bringing together a strong team to see this project through is critical to its success, everyone plays a role – residents, staff, council and Mayor – in turning this vision into a reality. A vital component of the project will be networking and lobbying with provincial ministers and corporate funders as this project will require a significant amount of work and partnerships with all agencies.
I love what I do! I am committed and excited to ensure this redevelopment is successful. My proven leadership and experience working collaboratively with the council, staff, regional directors and provincial cabinet ministers and outside organizations, along with my ability to lobby for much needed funding is key and makes me the right choice for Mayor.
Everyone who runs for council says they are running because they want to make a difference. I feel, with my leadership, we have made a difference, and with your support, we can continue to make changes to make Fruitvale even better.
I’m excited that in Fruitvale we have an election race including likely the youngest candidate in the area Lindsay Kenny, it’s so great to have an engaged young person.
I’m proud of what council has accomplished these past four years, Including the work the office and public works crew have done to keep our home running smoothly over the past four years, kudos to our employees past and present. We now look forward to the next four years!
My top three priorities going forward are;
Priority #1 is fiscal responsibility – We had a huge tax increase this year due to tax assessments going up an average of 17% in Fruitvale. We took that increase and we added an additional 3% which I stood alone in opposing. We must do more to reduce expenditures and generate funds.
One of our projects to generate a broader tax base is to partner with the provincial government, Columbia Basin Trust, and BC Housing to demolish the derelict Beaver Valley Middle School and to create a comprehensive plan for development of the site into multiple use housing. The thing that has been missing from this project so far is input from residents, I would like to address this.
The one project that generates revenue, the full service RV park & sani dump was an idea I had early in this term to keep people in town spending money, we need more projects like this.
Priority #2 is Team work – Council has lacked a sense of team and people disengage because they don’t feel valued. Going forward I offer that I will do my best to improve relationships and build a more cohesive team with council, employees, residents, and our neighbours. To illustrate my abilities in this regard, after I announced I was running for mayor, CUPE local 1285 representing the support workers union in our school district contacted me to ask if I wanted their support. To put it in perspective this is the union I sat across the table from in a senior management position for nearly 20 years. I am proud to be offered their support because it shows that I can work respectfully and successfully with people of different perspectives.
Priority #3 is Transparency – I think we have a lot of room for improvement on the openness and transparency of council, I’d like to initiate an informal drop in with the mayor and council once a month, a chance for anyone to drop by ask questions, and get updated on council business. I’d also like to better utilize our newsletter and social media to communicate council news.
There are a lot of intelligent, critical thinkers both running for council, on staff, and in the village at large, they need to be engaged and to feel part of the team so they feel free to share their thoughts and ideas to help us move the Village and area forward.
This election is not about choosing one leader’s vision and ideas over another. It is about choosing a leader with the ability to engage people and work with council, and with residents together on what we as a Community want to see happen. To quote an unknown author, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”