I am a former Trail councillor and Trail mayor with 17 years of experience, including a four-year run as a member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA West Kootenay Boundary) in 2001.
Since retiring as executive director of the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation last year I decided that a run for council could give me the opportunity to work with a team to face challenges head-on.
I believe the number one challenge facing council will be the ability to maintain our current competitive tax rates. Maintaining competitive tax rates is critical in our quest to retain and attract new residents and businesses to our community. Inevitable expenditures such as upgrades to the sewage treatment plant (est. $19 million) and the demolition of the old bridge (est. $5 million) are just a couple of examples of future financial pressures facing the city. Expenditures of this magnitude combined with the capital required to maintain our existing infrastructure will make it extremely challenging for council to invest in more positive and progressive initiatives such as the recently approved walking bridge and still maintain competitive tax rates.
While these challenges are before us, they are not insurmountable providing we undertake to do the following: establish clear goals and objectives and develop a strategy to achieve them; establish priorities that are consistent with the overall strategy; engage the residents of Trail to assist council in the development of an overall Strategic Plan and to establish priorities and communicate progress to residents on a regular basis; rebuilding relationships and partnerships with our neighbouring communities must be a number one priority.
Poor relations cost all communities socially and economically and none of us can afford it; establish new policies (where necessary) and amend old policies so that they are consistent with our goals and objectives; be persistent in lobbing the provincial government to ensure that we get our fair share of available grant money; pursue public and private partnerships to assist with major initiatives.
Outstanding issues from the last three years that need to be resolved include the construction of a secondary access to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. Maintaining the regional hospital in Trail must be the number one priority for city council and if the construction of a secondary access will ensure that we retain regional status we cannot afford to hesitate. Moving forward, it is imperative that we meet with both Interior Health and the Ministry of Health to ascertain what is required to ensure that Trail remains the regional hospital and hence put an end to the constant efforts of others attempting to have the regional hospital relocated elsewhere.