BY BILL PHILLIPS
How to handle the city’s aging infrastructure brought out some of the more interesting responses during Tuesday’s all candidates forum with Cameron Stolz and Terri McConnachie at odds over what should be done.
Stolz, who sat on council for two terms before being defeated in the 2014 election, took credit for the city now being in a good position, while Terri McConnachie reminded attendees how divisive the previous administration was.
Stolz said dealing with aging infrastructure was a “pet project” from when he was first elected in 2008.
“It took me the better part of three years, working with council and staff, to come up with a plan to deal with our water and sewer,” he said. “It took until November 2012 to be able to get that motion and plan before council. When I finally brought it before council it was passed unanimously.”
That, he said, resulted the city not having to increase its water or sewer levy since 2015.
“We’ve seen water and sewer lines that have been fully fixed, kept up to date and modernized,” said Stolz. “What we need to do now is take that same sort of approach with the rest of our infrastructure.”
McConnachie acknowledged the good position of the water and sewer funds, but reminded everyone of the blackest mark of the previous council.
“You have to give credit where credit is due, I’m glad that water and sewer are fully funded,” she said. “But who can ever forget Wintergate of 2013 and the potholes … it was like covered wagon trails … and the snow removal equipment.”
She was referencing the issue of the city parking graders and snowplows during a major snowstorm. When the issue was brought forward, at the time by Coun. Brian Skakun, council was told the equipment was parked during a shift change, however, it was later revealed the equipment was parked to send a message to the union, which was in contract talks with the city at the time.
“Knowledge is power, so is a cooperative approach and working with our staff, both management and union, to get us all back on track,” said McConnachie. “I think in the last four years we’ve really accomplished that. We’re well on our way to understanding what we need, above and below ground, versus what we want and how much it’s going to cost.
The two are also at odds over the city’s roads rehabilitation budget.
One of the planks in Stolz’s campaign has been pointing out that in 2017 the city reduced its road rehabilitation budget from $7 million to $5 million
“We were just starting to get into (fixing) residential neighbourhoods when that funding, unfortunately, was been reduced,” said Stolz.
McConnachie responded by saying where that money went.
“Good management also requires (taking) an opportunity to … take some money out of the roads budget and put that into sidewalks as a one-off because we realized that it was definitely a priority at the time,” said McConnachie.
The builders’ association will be holding another forum on October 9 at the Marriott and the Citizen, CKPG, and Prince George Chamber of Commerce will hold a forum October 16 at UNBC.