Almost all of the contenders in the upcoming municipal election were up on stage at the Lester Centre on Tuesday night for the all candidates debate. The only person missing was Farley Stewart who had to miss the debate due to a prior engagement. The claws came out between the mayoral candidates.
The debate was hosted by the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce and every candidate for mayor and council – 14 in all – answered questions posed to them by a media panel gathered from Chamber of Commerce members.
Before getting into the questions, each candidate was allowed two minutes to give an opening statement, with incumbent mayoral candidate, Jack Mussallem wining the draw to go first.
–Mayoral Candidates –
Jack Mussallem almost immediately launched into attacks on his rivals’ qualifications to be mayor. He criticized Corinna Mozart’s lack of city council experience and her membership in the federal Liberal Party. Mussallem asserted that to be mayor a person needs to have education and experience in municipal government, both of which he has and Morhart does not. He also said that by being a member of a political party she was “ announcing their bias” which he said would damage her ability to work with provincial and federal governments if they’re not being run by the Liberal Party.
“To be truly effective, you need to be able to work with all parties on behalf of our residents,” says Mussallem.
He also went after his other chief rival Kathy Bedard because she has a day-job and because she lives with her husband in Port Edward. Mussallem argued that because he didn’t have to worry about another job, his first consideration is always being mayor of the city and suggested that Bedard would not have the time to be as involved a mayor as he is. He warned the audience that if they picked a non-resident as their mayor it would damage the city’s reputation because “we will be viewed as not being capable of choosing one of our own to lead.”
“No one will take us seriously, and we’ll be considered to be incapable of taking care of our own affairs,” says Mussallem.
Corinna Morhart addressed Jack Mussallem’s criticism of her lack of experience in city government by emphasizing ideas rather than experience.
“Leadership is about guidance, sharing a vision and working together to make it happen. It’s not about how many years you have on the job, it’s about what to can do on the job,” says Morhart.
Morhart says that the council needs to be more transparent in how id conducts its business and should provide the public with information so that they can share in the decision making process.
She also wants to find a balance between development of the economy and maintaining people’s standard of living.
To address the infrastructure problems in the city she says that council needs to find new ways of funding the projects that don’t involve placing the burden on taxpayers.
She also backhandedly criticized Mussallem’s style of leadership as being too abrasive.
“As mayor I will bring a style leadership to the council table that is more collaborative and respectful. You deserve better and we can do better,” says Morhart.’
Kathy Bedard started out with a subtle jab at Mussallem and his contention that she shouldn’t be mayor because she lives in Port Edward.
“I believe in respect for all. No matter what our background or where we live,” says Bedard.
She quickly moved to address Mussallem’s other contention that because she has a day job she won’t have the time to be an involved mayor.
“Get me busy, and I’ll get things done,” says Bedard.
She warned the council candidates on stage that if she’s elected mayor they will be given a portfolio to work on, be required to attend committee meetings and sit on task forces, and play an active role in city business.
If elected, Bedard says that there will be changes made to increase the public’s access to council. She promised to have one council meeting a month where the public will be free to come to the council chamber to ask questions about or bring to the council’s attention any city issue they are concerned about.
“I look forward to a prosperous city. I look forward to jobs and employment for our people, an exciting future for our educated children to come back for and participate in,” says Bedard.
– Council Candidates –
Anna Ashley says if she’s sent back to the council chamber, she will work towards increasing openness, transparency and accountability.
“It’s time that we truly engage out community in meaningful dialogue on the issues and decisions we are making on your behalf. You deserve a real voice, and you deserve to be kept in the loop, ” says Ashley.
Besides for better communication, and increased sharing of information from the city, Ashley says she will advocate for a more open and forthright budgeting process where people will be told what the nature of the city’s finances are and be asked to give their input.
She is also pushing for a comprehensive plan for dealing with the infrastructure issue in town now rather than putting off until later, and to do so while looking for alternatives to raising taxes.
“We can’t wait for things to fail before we start to fix them,” says Ashley.
Ashley want the city to put together a proactive strategy for attracting new businesses to the the community.
“We’ve been chugging along saying ‘we think we can,’ but together, I know we can,” says Ashley.
Judy Carlick-Pearson says her platform is to create a “safe and economically-sound community that will benefit absolutely everyone.”
Carlick-Pearson says that the city can get back to its boom-town days but not using the industries that supported it in the past.
“We have to build a new start for ourselves, and we can do this together. As a city candidate, I can promise you that I will be honest, transparent, hard-working and diligent, And to do everything I can to be a strong voice for you, the community members.”
To achieve this new start she says she will focus on developing small businesses, community safety and protecting the environment.
Gina Garon lauded her experience in municipal government and business, including 28 years of running her own small business.
“A vote for me is a vote for dedication, a vote for integrity, a vote for knowledge, a vote for commitment and most of all a vote for experience,” says Garon.
Garon says she wants to find new ways to maintain things like the city’s infrastructure, the tax base, schools, the fire hall and more. She would also like to increase the amount of town hall-style meetings with the public in order to prioritize what needs to be worked on first.
Christo Holmes says he’s running for council because he believes he can make a positive contribution to the community.
“I will provide independent, well-informed decision making. I have no special interest groups supporting me, I will work for you: the citizens of Prince Rupert.
Holmes says that his work experience which ranges from organized labour to starting his own business. He has some experience policy making from when he was the provincial appointee and chair of the Board of Variance.
Nelson Kinney says that Prince Rupert is a great community but that there’s work to be done in order to keep it that way.
To do this, he says, one the things that the city needs to do is let people know that it’s “doors are open for business.”
“Attract business and industry investment that provides jobs and money for our city,” says Kinney.
He wants to replace infrastructure such as roads in an affordable way, provide more training and education opportunities in the city to train young people for the new jobs in the community.
Kinney also reached out to seniors, promising to work with other levels of government to provide affordable living and a higher standard of living for them.
He says he will work to keep taxes from going up by looking for more alternative solutions to the city’s spending.
“My platform is: youth, seniors and industry,” says Kinney.
James Kirk says that municipal taxes are out of control, and if elected he would push for to cut taxes or at least to stabilize them. He’s adamant that the city has to start looking hard for things to cut from its spending.
“That’s one of the big issues I’ve been confronted with, and we’ve got to get down to the nitty-gritty” says Kirk.
Kirk says he’s also worried about the Watson Island issue and the lack of information coming out of the court proceedings surrounding it.
He also says that he would push to have the RCMP and fire hall buildings repaired rather than replaced because of the expected tax increases associated with spending millions on new buildings.
Conrad Lewis says that his “political cognizance,” lobbying skills, community volunteering work experience, and understanding of finances make him a good choice to be a city councillor.
“I’m resourceful, transparent and approachable, Intrepid, but at the same time very respectful of the needs and wishes of others,” says Lewis.
Lewis says if elected he will focus on the city’s infrastructure, quality of life, and social and economic development.
Lewis, who has been involved in youth basketball says he will push for more recreational activities for young people. Coupled with new job and education opportunities, he thinks this will make for healthier young people, healthier families and ultimately a healthier community.
“Healthy communities produce the leaders of tomorrow.”
Gabe McLean says that there are only two issues at the heart of the election: the budget and its priorities, and economic growth through industry development.
“Every other discussion, whether it is social, business or any other item discusses during this election, depends of the successful management of these two issues,” says McLean.
On the budget, McLean promises that he will make sure that any tax increase that is higher than the rate of inflation will put forward to be approved by a referendum. His top priorities for the budget are the infrastructure problem and public safety.
McLean says he wants the city to put out more information to the public and that the city has to do a better job in public relations.
He promises to always vote against third-party financing and any measure that would fund work that is the responsibility of another jurisdiction. He also promises measures to allow the public to initiate recall elections, municipal auditing, new rules regarding public opinion polling and increasing security in the downtown core.
Jennifer Rice says she has the creativity and pragmatism to make decisions for a city that id facing many financial restraints. She also feels that the council should be more considering more than just the number of potential jobs when deciding what development to allow in the city.
“We need a council that supports a diversified economy; that builds a resilient community not a dependent community. We can shape our future, rather than opening the door to any and every proposal without considering how it affects the people and the environment,” says Rice.
To help create “meaningful jobs” that pay well enough to support a healthy livelihood by advocating to have training and education facilities set up inside the city.
“So our youth will have opportunities and a vested interest to stay in the community,” says Rice.
As the economy grows she says she will push to make sure locals get the jobs and that programs are set up to help open new businesses downtown and to get families to stay in the city, preserve the well-being of workers and encourage the use of local materials.
Joy Thorkelson feels that the city needs more transparency and it should be communicating with, and seeking input from the public.
Thorkelson says she wants council continue to seek partnerships with the local First Nations groups.
“The drug and alcohol day-treatment program was the result of that partnership, and we need to more fully engage out aboriginal citizens in city affairs. Prince Rupert is a multi-cultural community and it should be council’s job to make everyone feel like they belong to our city, ” says Thorkelson.
The incumbent council candidate says that rebuilding Prince Rupert will take more than a diverse economy with well-paying jobs, it will take a strong “social infrastructure.”
“I believe in the old adages: we are only a strong as our weakest link, it takes a town to raise a child. And the old union saying: in caring for one, we care for all.”
Rob Vallee says that it’s time to “fight for Rupert.” He says that council should more of its time focusing on on what is happening here in Prince Rupert and less on what other communities are up to.
“I don’t care about Kitimat, I’m sick and tired of hearing about Kitimat, what’s going on there, what’s going on in Terrace. I think Rupert is the most important thing,” says Vallee.
He also wants the city to have a closer working relationship with the Prince Rupert Port Authority n trying to attract businesses and industry development, because he says they hold the keys to the city’s future.
QUESTION #1: WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT CITY WEST?
The first question posed to the candidates was what the city should do with its ownership of local telecom company, CityWest. Without exception, every candidate said that the City of Prince Rupert should keep CityWest as a publicly owned company.
QUESTION #2: WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS FOR MOVING THE CITY FORWARD ECONOMICALLY?
–Mayoral Candidates –
Jack Mussallem says that if re-elected mayor he would pursue money from the Fisheries Legacy Trust to build a new dock for use by yachts to attract them – and their wealthy owners – to the city, and to provide more moorage for the winter months.
“I would lobby for support of port facility development that is acceptable to the city. I’ve assisted Canpotex on three separate occasions to move their city forward. To pursue an increase in cruise ship visits to four ships a week and I was away last week talking to cruise company representatives,” says Mussallem.
Mussallem says that he plans to keep Prince Rupert residents informed about the new employment opportunities being created in the city.
“With that in mind, I’m already planning an employment opportunities workshop in the new year,” says Mussallem.
He says he will also continue to push for the redevelopment of Watson Island.
Corinna Morhart suggests that the council should be making better use of the city’s economic development office, which she says has been working hard to attract new businesses.
“We can use this office as a base to work with all stakeholders and business people in the community, region and other levels of government,” says Morhart.
The city needs to identify what exactly investors are looking for in order to be able to attract them and their money to Prince Rupert.
“We can’t just wait for them to come to us, we have to actively seek these people out and find out what they need,” says Morhart.
She also says that the city needs to ensure that it has the education facilities to train people to take advantage of the new jobs.
Kathy Bedard says that the city should learn a valuable lesson from the proposed Pinacle wood-pellet facility, which caused those living near the site to speak out against the proposal after the city had granted the company a letter of support.
“The lesson is that this council needs to consult with residents about the development that you want in this community and where you want it located. And its inherent that those responsible for the development sit at the table,”
Bedard says that the city should get an idea of what the public’s expectations and goals are for economic development order to inform their future decision making on what to allow to set up in Rupert, and where.
– Council Candidates –
Anna Ashley says one of the big goals to achieve in order to move the town forward economically is to get Watson Island back on the tax roll. She also wants the city to promote value-added manufacturing jobs to be set up in Prince Rupert instead of always sending over raw products to Asia, and to use incentives to encourage new start-ups in the community.
“We need to work with out partners, whether that public, private, regional or government. Partnerships and collaboration are the keys to sustainable economic growth,” says Ashley.
Ashley says she is also calling for a city plan for attracting and keeping new businesses to the community. She says that there are many tools for the city to use to help determine what its “business vitality” is. But one of the places she knows needs work already is infrastructure.
“Companies want to locate to healthy and sustainable that provide the services and amenities that they and their employees want. We must provide an environment that business and industry want to invest in and we need to go out and bring them here,” says Ashley.
Judy Carlick-Pearson says that the council should work to make Prince Rupert a more appealing place to raise a family.
“Regardless of our economy and our industries, families might not want to move here. Our education rates are somewhat lower than in the rest of the province, our unemployment rate is quite high, our crime rate is quite high. We need to focus on those before people are actually going to want to come to Prince Rupert,” says Carlick-Pearson.
Gina Garon says that the city needs to do more to promote itself to those it wants to come here.
“You can’t just open your door and expect people to walk in. We need to partner with other groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Prince Rupert to promote and celebrate what we have,” says Garon.
She points out that CN is already doing this for Prince Rupert in China with great success.
Christo Holmes says the key to attracting new businesses to town is infrastructure.
“Small business likes to go to a town with modern infrastructure. That might mean good delivery of utilities, no water breaks, no roads or bridges in disrepair, data transfer at high speeds. That is good for small business and they will locate to towns that provide those services,” says Holmes.
Nelson Kinney says the city needs to explore more avenues of promoting itself as a player in world trade, such as working with transportation companies or other levels of government.
“I’ve had the privilege of going on a trade delegation to China, and they are ready to come, they have the money, they want to spend it, let’s use it. We don’t have to worry about money for a bridge, they’ll build it,” says Kinney.
Kinney also put himself firmly in the pro-Walmart camp by saying that he would “love to see big box stores come to Prince Rupert.”
James Kirk says that there should be a increased emphasis on trades training for young people in the community in order to keep them in the city to work the industrial jobs here.
“Locally, the more young people the more tax dollars to help support seniors and the rust of us later in life. I’m a senior and I would like to make sure things keep going that way so they can support me,” says Kirk.
Conrad Lewis says that the city should be taking steps to make sure that the community directly benefits from the industries that it is trying to attract here. He believes that companies should be giving back more to the community.
“Any increase in positive economic activity should be shared by our community by way of contributions to new work initiatives, or possibly investment in local scholarships to help fill their expansion needs,” says Lewis.
Gabe McLean says that any city only exists on the strength of its industry. If elected he says he would advocate that the city work, both by itself and in partnership with existing industries, develops the plans and infrastructure to attract new businesses to Prince Rupert.
“I will very be conscious of the fact that if we do not become protectionist with our business practices in this community,” says Mclean.
Jennifer Rice says that the city should work with the Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures to help existing businesses and to attract new ones.
“One idea I had was to put forward a bylaw to help support local businesses by banning work camps. So if a big industry comes to town and has imported labour, the workers would have to stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and shop at our grocery stores,” says Rice.
Rice pointed to the success of a similar bylaw in Dawson Creek aimed at the oil and gas industry there.
She also thinks that Prince Rupert should focus on its strengths like the Lester Centre Performing Arts Centre. She suggests starting a theatre design program there to attract theatre students and teachers to the community.
Rice also put forward the idea that CityWest could start its own telecommunication training centre, and that hotels could start a hotel management training program.
Joy Thorkelson says if re-elected she would whatever she could to resolve the on-going Watson Island court case in the City’s favour, but admits that is largely outside council’s control. Once the case is resolved though she says she supports selling Watson Island for immediate economic development.
“We need to encourage economic diversity and not put all out eggs in the port basket. We need to support the port and the logistics jobs, but we also need to support fish processing and harvesting, wood processing jobs, tourism services and social services sectors,” says Thorkelson.
Thorkelson also wants to see First Nations businesses encouraged by the city and to have aspirations of regional expansion. She wants the city to take steps to promote hiring locally and to ensure that new projects are environmentally and socially sustainable.
She also wants the city to work with the Port Authority to come up with a comprehensive waterfront plan so that “everyone’s needs can be met.”
Rob Vallee says that he knows that for a lot of people big box stores are a dirty word, but says he believes that bringing them to Prince Rupert will do more good than harm.
“If you think it hurt places like Terrace, look behind Mr. Mike’s and look at the strip mall. There isn’t a vacant building in there. Then, go downtown here. In Prince Rupert we have 40 vacant buildings. We need to bring businesses like that here. Yes, they don’t have high-paying jobs, but they’ll help fill those empty buildings downtown and get this town going again,” says Vallee.
QUESTION #3: HOW WILL YOU PRIORITIZE AND FUND ALL THE INFRASTRUCTURE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN PRINCE RUPERT?
–Mayoral Candidates –
Jack Mussallem says that to start he would push for more monitoring of the city’s assets to make sure service-levels are adequate and to check for inefficiencies. He says he will lobby other levels of government for grant money to help pay for infrastructure work, push for an decrease in taxes and to sell city property it doesn’t need.
“You get the sales money, you get the property paying taxes annually, and you ensure development using restrictive covenants to create opportunities for employment.”
Mussallem says he will also push to recover on outstanding taxes from Watson Island and to cut back city amenities down to a five or six day week except for emergency services or other more essential services like the airport ferry.
Corinna Morhart says its time to get the public to tell the city “what they’re willing to pay for and what their priorities are” in the city budget. After they know what the priorities are, she says the city should look to eliminate inefficiencies and find alternative ways to pay for the infrastructure work.
“We must put pressure on all levels of government ensure that we get more money to the communities to meet these basic needs. Is there room for improvement? You bet there is. I’m dedicated to making this happens by making sure that we have a management team that knows how to get the job done,” say Morhart.
Kathy Bedard says that the message from the public during the city’s investigation into quality of life in Prince Rupert was that people want to keep their services. People want the services that make them feel safe living here and those that make it a comfortable place to live when you’re not working.
“There’s no guarantee that if we can increase the industry and businesses in the tax base that we can move forward, we can have a champaign budget. What I think it is, is that we as a council have to look at how, as the community grows, we are going to set the pace of spending when we get to the point of having too much money. Instead of looking at the past and thinking about how taxes are affecting us now, we need to look to the future,” says Bedard.
– Council Candidates –
Anna Ashley says that she recognizes the fact that property owners do pay high taxes in Prince Rupert, but the trade off is having services here that other towns lack.
To deal with the infrastructure issue, Ashley wants the city to open up the city’s budget process to more public input so that the city can prioritize what it should spend money on. But she says that dealing with the infrastructure deficit will take hard work.
“It means taking a hard look at permissive tax exemptions ad grants, and creating policies that reflect community priorities. We must hold management to task to find the balance and to actively seek alternatives to taxation as the sole source of funding. Inefficiencies must be banned through restructuring. We need to be proactive about collaborating with other levels of government to share the costs and to hold other levels of government to account to lobby for revenues generated here to start coming back to the community,“ says Ashley.
Judy Carlick-Pearson says she feels that Prince Rupert is caught in a catch-22 where no one really wants to raise taxes so that the community is an appealing place to live, but it won’t be appealing without proper infrastructure.
“One thing at is an appealing factor is the safety and community programming for our children. And if they’re jeopardized, I can guarantee you that families won’t want to come here,” says Carlick-Pearson.
She says its time for the community as a whole and for council to start thinking outside the box for different solutions before falling back on raising taxes.
Gina Garon says that like many communities in BC, Prince Rupert has had costs being placed on it by other levels of government in the form of extra highways staff for the RCMP, or extra money for transit paid to the province.
“With this down-loading of costs, it just puts more of a burden on the taxpayer. And I think that we need to engage with our staff, or management and union representatives to find new and effective ways of doing things, to stabilize our infrastructure as well as our services we provide. I think the community as a whole needs to sit down and decide what it’s priorities are” says Garon.
Christo Holmes says he believes that Prince Rupert is still on the cusp of a boom and that it will still take time to start getting money form new industries and that as the town prospers property values will increase which will mean more money from taxes.
He believes that the best people to prioritize what infrastructure projects should be worked on first are the city staff.
“I’m want to be a politician, not an engineer. I think that over the past several years, city staff has done a fabulous job dealing with infrastructure, given the money they’ve had to work with,”says Holmes.
Nelson Kinney says to start council and its senior city management need to start working as a team in order to deal with the infrastructure issue. He says that the city needs to attract business and deal with its debt while committing to no increase in taxes.
“Let’s work with our First Nations people, they want to be involved. They too have asked to come in, so let’s let everybody have a chance and then our city will have a chance to work together,” says Kinney.
James Kirk says that he’s frustrated that over the past few decades the city has lets its infrastructure get to the point where it needs millions of dollars worth of work done on it. Kirk says that taxpayers in Rupert can’t afford more tax increases, so to help pay for it, the city should look for grant money like Port Edward did in order to build its new water pipes.
“I really cannot see where we as taxpayers can go any further in a tax base where, basically, we have no more money. Where are we going to get the money, because boy-oh-boy do we have a problem,” says Kirk.
Conrad Lewis says that if the city tries its best to keep taxes down but finds that it can’t do so, “so be it.”
“However, if inconsistencies exist between taxes for residential, business and industry, then I will challenge or question why that exists,” says Lewis.
Lewis says its unfair that small business and homeowners are being asked to take the brunt of the city’s expenses, while “crown corporations avoid paying their fair share.”
Lewis wants industry to pay more towards the infrastructure work that is being done largely for their benefit.
Gabe McLean says that the infrastructure problem is really a budgeting problem. He says its time for the city to make sure that all of its assets are profitable, or at the very least not losing it any money. And it something is costing more money than its bringing in, the city should “get creative” with ways to make it profitable.
“Cost-control planning is the best way of dealing with infrastructure over a long period of time; its not something we’re going to solve overnight. I wouldn’t make any changes beyond current inflation rates, there has to be a better way to deal with this problem,” says McLean.
Jennifer Rice says that to come up with a concrete and implementable answer to the infrastructure problem, the council as a whole will need to sit down with city staff to look over all the available information before making a decision.
That said, she does have a few ideas that she says she will bring to the table.
She says its time for Prince Rupert to join forces with other small rural communities to lobby the other levels of government to drop the condition in many of their funding programs that the municipality has to contribute half the money to get any government funding. She says this may work for cities like Vancouver that have the money to match the government’s contribution, but not here.
“We in Prince Rupert can’t even come up with half the funds. So for cash-strapped communities like us, much needed construction projects go unbuilt while money-heavy communities like Vancouver have shovel ready projects that get off the ground,” says Rice.
Joy Thorkelson says that taxes in Prince Rupert are high because the city needed to raise them to make up for the lost revenue after the pulp mill closed, and to keep up with the rising cost of living. The problem is that the city has more infrastructure that it has the money to maintain.
“Our infrastructure was built for a city of 18,000 people when we had a good industrial tax base. That tax base is gone. The city is only able to tax property, and only 8 percent of national tax revenue flows into municipalities,” say Thorkelson.
The solutions to this problem, she says, are for the other levels of government to put more tax money into municipalities, attracting a new Canpotex-sized project would fill the city’s coffers with another four to six million dollars, and the city can borrow money if it needs to.
“I’m in favour of a hold-the-fort approach for the next council term , where we raise taxes to cover what we need to operate the city while work to attract major industrial projects to the city. If we are forced to make a major expenditure, I commit to a spending referendum” says Thorkelson.
Rob Vallee says he doesn’t want to raise taxes, but some infrastructure problems might not be able to wait until an alternative source of funding to be found. But that said, the best way of raising more money is to bring new taxable industries to town.
“If our streets cave-in, what it will cost us to fix it is a total disaster. That’s why we have to be open for business . . . I pay enough taxes already and I don’t want to pay any more, so let’s focus on bringing businesses back to Prince Rupert to help pay for this,” says Vallee.
QUESTION #4: HOW DO YOU PLAN TO SUPPORT NEW AND EXISTING YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
–Mayoral Candidates –
Jack Mussallem says that the city should partner with groups like the Chamber of Commerce to offer a mentor-access program. Mussallem points out that there are many programs and funding opportunities for young people and new businesses.
Corinna Morhart says that the city needs to make sure that the community has strong families because they are the support network people need when taking a risk and starting their own business. She also wants the city to encourage youth to have more of a say in city affairs and to come to council to voice their concerns.
Kathy Bedard says that there are way to many high school students in Prince Rupert who don’t see the point of even finishing Grade 12.
“They don’t see the hope of Grade 12, they don’t see the hop in our community. We as adults, as taxpayers, as parents we need to instil that hope in our community, get our children to complete Grade 12 and go on to trades or whatever profession they choose. The city needs to take an active role and tap into funding around internships so that we have older professionals mentoring other professionals,” says Bedard.
– Council Candidates –
Anna Ashley says that there is room for improvement in the education system, such as having more apprenticeships available, but that the city can play a more direct role as well.
“We need to work with our businesses and industry and try to find connections for our youth so they stay in this community and have jobs. If they have an interest in starting a business, we need to find out what services are needed and help guide them create a business that is actually going to work,” says Ashley.
Judy Carlick-Pearson says we need to look more than just entrepreneurship. She says the city also needs to focus on fostering leadership skills and life skills so that youth can stand on their own feet in the community.
Gina Garon says she knows what its like to be a youth entrepreneur because she was one; starting her own business when she was 21. She says she wishes the Chamber and college’s Rising Star Program or that Community Futures had been around to help her get started back then, but she would like to see some kind of agency to help those taking a skilled trade find a job too.
Christo Holmes says that its hard to teach entrepreneurship in schools, but says that the high schools should at least be teaching students more basic financial knowledge and book-keeping skills to help prepare them to manage their own money, whether it be personal finances or a business’.
“A thriving city with lots of opportunities will make young people innovative to take advantage of those opportunities and become young entrepreneurs. A dead, dying city, and your youth leave . . . so the answer is: vibrant city, better education at an early level, and we’ll have more youth entrepreneurs and more entrepreneurs, period,” says Holmes.
Nelson Kinney says that the city needs to promote more vocational training in Prince Rupert that could starts as early as grade 10 as students realize that maybe university isn’t for them. Kinney says that having the training will important for developing the economy and getting young people working and staying in Prince Rupert.
James Kirk says that the city needs to focus on increasing the amount of young people learning skilled trades, and that schools need to do a better job directing students not cut out for university in that direction. Kirks says that having enough skilled tradespeople is essential for planning the community’s future.
Conrad Lewis says that candidates can talk about all the programs and policies they would set up for youth, but says the trick is actually getting youth to take advantage of them. He says that everybody including the city and the business community needs to find out what young people want out of their future and show them that its there for them to take if they want it bad enough.
Gabe McLean says that the council should start at a much more basic level by encouraging young people to actually come out and vote in the municipal election so that their in