Frizzell says infrastructure and repair biggest issue facing city

We asked all city council candidates to fill out a questionnaire so you may get to know them a little better. We will be running their answers between now and election day.
Garth Frizzell
 
Tell us about your background.
Garth Frizzell announces his intention to seek a third term on city council. Bill Phillips photo
Garth Frizzell announces his intention to seek a third term on city council.

I am currently completing my third term as Councillor in Prince George. This term I served as Chair of Finance and Audit, and was elected nationally as 2nd Vice President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I first came to Prince George in 1996, planning to stay for two years to get my Masters’ degree at UNBC. After getting the degree in International Studies, I didn’t want to leave. I met my wife Sue, we started our family, bought a house, and spent ten years building an award-winning technology company. After ten years in business, I accepted a new position building links between the University of Northern BC and the business community. By then, my volunteer time in the business community had led to 5 years on the Chamber of Commerce, including as its President. I also served 6 years appointed to the Province of BC Small Business Roundtable. I now teach entrepreneurship and economics at the College of New Caledonia.

Why are you running for council?

We need to continue to diversify our economy, and seek more support for replacing water, sewer roads and other infrastructure. The infrastructure challenges facing our city, clearly shown by the Massey/Carney sinkhole, can’t be funded solely by property tax. If elected, I will continue my work keeping municipal priorities at the top of mind to federal decision makers.

What do you think is the most important issue facing the City of Prince George today? Why?

Infrastructure repair and replacement costs are far and above the most significant financial issue. The major roads, water and sewer were built 50-60 years ago, and have reached their average life expectancy. There is major work to be done.

Please rank the importance of the following issues facing the city (1 being the most important).
  1. Infrastructure
  2. Road Maintenance
  3. Safety
  4. Crime
  5. Economic Development
  6. Snow Removal
  7. Social Housing
  8. Recreation (pools, arenas etc.)
  9. Population Increase
  10. Transit
  11. Parks
  12. Downtown Revitalization
  13. City Image
 
Do you support the policy that pays senior exempt staff overtime? Why, or why not?

The policy has been in place since the early 1990s and needs to be reviewed. it was never designed to handle a wildfire emergency that requires staff to deal with 708 days of emergencies. Unfortunately, long emergency summers may become more common and less extraordinary. Different times call for different measures.

What do you believe is the role of a city councillor as it pertains to the day-to-day operations of city hall?

Primarily governance, and setting the direction of the city. Council sets strategic direction at the beginning of term. During the term, Council debates the nature and scope of services the city will provide, then makes it policy by voting on it. This sets the direction for administration to follow in operations.

Council recently set the business licence fee for cannabis retailers and producers at $1,000. Do you think this fee is too high, too low, about right and will you support a cannabis retail store application that meets city requirements?

This is right for the first year at least. I supported this motion.

The city is currently reviewing the hours to keep Masich Place Stadium open. Do you agree with the current hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., pending scheduled usage and, if so should those hours be maintained?

These hours are effective at the current time, and should be subject to the demand of the public, and open to review.

We often hear about government being open and transparent. What does that mean to you? Once again, be specific.

This means that the public has access to information they need to understand the operations of the city, except for legal, land or labour issues that must be kept confidential by law. A specific example that illustrates my general philosophy: I brought forward motions requiring councillor expenses be made public in the open agenda of council, so that the public would know exactly how councillors spent money, and why.

Why should people vote for you?

I offer 10 years experience, a background in entrepreneurship, a commitment to the city, a deep understanding of critical issues facing Canadian municipalities from nine years as a nationally elected representative on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I have a technology background, and want to help diversify our economy so that the the next generation in Prince George have attractive job opportunities here in their home town.

If you could accomplish one thing over the next term, what would that be?

Secure predictable, sustainable funding from the federal government on a directly funded basis (not through grants) for covering infrastructure costs.