BY BILL PHILLIPS
Garth Frizzell is seeking his fourth term on Prince George city council.
Frizzell made it official Wednesday at lunchtime announcement before about 50 supporters following introductions from Mayor Lyn Hall and fellow councillor Brian Skakun.
“The last four years we’ve had startling successes in the city,” he said. “This council, and the council-oriented mayor we have, have positioned this city to make great strides in the next four years.”
He said will entail a lot of work in the future, which he is ready for.
He said while city has done a lot of work improving services, more needs to be done.
“We have to pay for our most essential services,” he said. “We facing massive costs to replace our infrastructure, the bills are coming due and climate change is making it more extreme. It’s going to be expensive work.”
He said increasing services is possible and that means seeking new sources of revenue.
“Property tax isn’t going to cut it,” he said. “We’re not going to hike property taxes again, and again, and again. Instead we have to understand how all the orders of government and how we can work together.”
He pointed to the need for partnerships with the provincial and federal governments when it comes to cost-sharing for infrastructure. He has positioned himself to help create better relationships with higher levels of government by becoming an executive of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. If re-elected, his is positioned to be president of the federation in 2020. Frizzell said the results from his work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has included successful funding programs from the federal government for infrastructure, housing and the coming legalization of cannabis.
Frizzell pointed to the diversification of the economy, and its strengths in supporting the present and driving the future of Prince George. Frizzell identified the modern forest sector as critical to the economy and spoke to the need to protect the industry. At the same time, Frizzell pointed out the significant impact that the education and health care sector have in the city.
“The growth of high-tech has been core to my interests, and I was excited this spring to get word that the long advocated high-speed fibre-optic data transmission line north has been approved after almost a decade of advocacy,” he said. “That will be a real game-changer, and we can see its immediate impact in our new focus on data centres. Advocacy can pay off, as we saw with the fibre line, but it only means the start. Now we’re ready to get serious about pursuing some significant opportunities.”
As chair of the city’s finance and audit committee for the past four years, Frizzell pointed to low increases in the taxation mill rates, improved services, and ability to pay down the debt.
“Our utilities were kept to a low-or no increase for most of the term, and the last tax increase was lower than the cost of living increase,” he said. “That’s a start but the story you don’t know is that during that time, we paid down $41.3 million in debt between 2013 and 2017.”
This was accomplished while more roads, sidewalks, parks, water, and sewer were still repaired or installed.
Frizzell was first elected to city council in 2008 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2014.
Frizzell is an entrepreneur and businessman with more than a decade of success in technology business development. He is a past-president of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce and has spent six years on the province’s of B.C. Small Business Roundtable. He is also an educator, currently teaching entrepreneurship, economics and international business at the College of New Caledonia.
He is a professional with a Master’s degree and six years ongoing governance experience in international development projects valued at $24.2 million. His recent presentations on municipal economic development have been hosted in in Colombia, Peru, Ukraine, Brazil, Senegal, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Philippines and China.