BY BILL PHILLIPS
The steps of City Hall have been good to Lyn Hall.
It’s where he announced he would seek a set on city council in 2011 and then, in 2014, that he would run for mayor.
Admitting a bit of superstition, he was back on the steps of City Hall Thursday to announce his mayoral re-election bid.
“Today I’m am so proud to be here in front of all of you and formally announce my intention to run as a candidate for re-election for the mayor of the City of Prince George,” he said to cheers and applause from close to 100 supporters at the announcement. “I am so passionate about the community, it’s a vibrant city and it’s a city that has so much to offer.”
He pointed to infrastructure investment over the past four years as one of the main accomplishments during the past term.
“Over the last four years we’ve invested $24 million in refurbishing our roads, over $3 million in sidewalks, $150,000 in walkways and more than $27 million in snow removal,” he said. “It’s important to talk about these issues because they’re the ones that we hear loud and clear, year after year as city councillors … Infrastructure needs are still a priority for us. We’re playing catch up on some of our old infrastructure. That’s going to cost money and cost time.”
That investment in infrastructure has been coupled with record-level building development across the city.
“From 2015 to the end of June in 2018, we have had more than $400 million worth of building development in Prince George,” he said. “To set a measure of development of measure of that magnitude, we are very fortunate to have a tremendous amount of private sector investment. It provides a strong foundation and really is a measure of how well our economy is doing.”
To the end of June this year, there has been $100 million in development in the city. Those numbers will increase once work begins on building a replacement for the Four Seasons Pool and the No. 1 Firehall, which Hall and council put to a successful referendum which authorized borrowing up to $45 million for the two projects.
Those two projects will further enhance the downtown area, which has been a campaign pledge of councils since the 1970s.
“Every election we’re asked, ‘what are you going to do about revitalization downtown?’ Just look behind you,” he said to the crowd gathered on the City Hall lawn, pointing to the new UNBC Wood Research Lab. He then highlighted the relocation of the Farmer’s Market to Third Avenue with Studio 2880 set to move to the same location by 2020. He also pointed to several new pubs and restaurants opening in the downtown core, the new Marriott Hotel and getting Homeworks back downtown.
“We’ve had approximately $70 million worth of of development in our downtown,” he said. “But there is no doubt there is more work to do downtown. We deal with the homelessness issue, we deal with the drug issue and we’re dealing with that head on. It’s a tough thing to deal with, but we’re seeing progress.”
In 2014 he campaigned on bringing a new style of leadership to the city and with a history of being on the school board, getting more involved with educational institutions.
“We’ve strengthened our relationships with UNBC, CNC and School District 57,” he said. “They’re important components of how we attract people to Prince George.”
The other component he campaigned on and one he says surprised him as to how well it was received, was communicating with residents.
“In 2014, I campaigned on reconnecting council to the community,” he said. “With our TalkTober events we had an opportunity to provide residents the opportunity to come out and talk to each department of the city, as well as council.”
The 2017 wildfires helped define the city, he said, and helped put Prince George on the map.
“We had national coverage about what a fantastic city we are,” he said. “That was a big moment for the city, it really showed the country what we’re made of.”
One of the things to emerge from last year’s wildfires was the revelation this year that senior salaried staff were paid overtime for their efforts during the wildfire. Hall said it will be up to the next council to determine whether it wants to review that policy and a recommendation from staff for a 15 per cent increase for senior staff.
“My focus remains, as it has been, to continue to have an engaged council in the community, build sound infrastructure, provide recreational and arts opportunities,” he said. “Build on what we have achieved over the past years and continue to make Prince George a vibrant city and a place that people want to come and live and do business.
“I want to continue to foster a climate for public and private sector investment. Increase business opportunities and development. Focus on social development which include affordable, senior housing, low income low barrier options. Continue to upgrade infrastructure and continue to pay down the city debt.”
What is the one thing he would he like to see over the next four years.
“I’d really like to a new data centre,” he said. “The province is working diligently and Shaw is working on that fibre optic piece. There’s been lots of nibbles, lots of people looking. It provides well-paying jobs. That would be one of things I’d have high on my list.”
Hall is the only candidate declared for the mayor’s position so far.