DC candidates in-depth: Charlie Parslow

Talk about your time in the community and community-building. What boards/commissions or committees do you sit, and talk about key projects you have had a hand in?

Some of this will have been covered by previous questions.

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Established the Kiwanis Enterprise Centre

Led the community wide engagement concerning the reorganisation of Dawson Creek schools

Conceptualised the original Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre

President of the Dawson Creek 2005 and 2008 Northern BC Winter Games

At the request of late Mayor Calvin Kruk, developed the Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles for the City of Dawson Creek

Conducted the one year long consultation that led to the identification of the Multiplex as the core element of the community’s development

Facilitated all the regional town hall meetings prior to the successful referendum vote to enable the development of the Multiplex

Board member Dawson Creek Society for Community Living

Liaison between city and Historical Society, Mile Zero Society and the Art Gallery

 

In your opinion, what is the role of a city councillor in a 10 to 20,000 person city?

To represent the city residents in the governance aspects of the operation of the city

To assume a liaison role in the linkages between the city and other organisations working to support the development of the community.

To engage with citizens in the community and to be aware of issues and challenges facing individuals and businesses.

To be forthright and mindful not only of the present needs but also the future needs of the community.

To hold staff accountable for the attainment of results and for the fair and polite treatment of all who interact with the city.

To ensure that the city uses its resources in a wise and judicious manner.

To be a good ambassador and role model within the community and outside the community boundaries. 

 

Are there any particular issues or local decisions that have you running? Why and what are they?

Yes.  There are many but here are the key ones

The need to develop a long term plan to close the Fiscal Gap

The need to develop a long term plan to bring our infrastructure to a safe and acceptable standard – 10 year minimum

The need to engage the stakeholders in the community in all major issues

The need to aggressively pursue the implementation of a flood mitigation plan - $71 million dollars of business and residential real estate is in jeopardy each spring! 

Without money you cannot deliver on many of the needs of people and their right to enjoy a good quality of life.  The amount of dollars our community can raise with an affordable tax rate is less than the dollars required to operate and to maintain the community.  This is the fiscal gap.  The Staff need to quantify this so that taxpayers can come to grips with the issues.  Without community understanding the city will be in a very difficult situation.

To quote other people on this matter:

“we are living beyond our means”

“we are punching above our weight”

“we are behaving like a big city when we are a small city”

 

What are the three most important issues facing the City?

The need to find sufficient money to operate and maintain the city without an unacceptable tax and fee regime

Coming to a consensus about ways to reduce expenditures and maintaining community cohesion and spirit in times of adjustment to our realities

Mitigating the risk of flood that puts in jeopardy $71 million dollars of residential and business development each spring.

 

Matters such as health and education are more provincial matters and business, but are often lumped into municipal politics. What role can a municipal councillor play in health and education when it comes to these institutions in their city?

Our role is to be an advocate for the city. We should be vigilant to ensure that we are not treated as second class citizens in this province.  We should support our educators and our health practitioners in their effort to provide the best services possible.

We must not accept the downloading, from other levels of government of responsibilities, of matters that are not our responsibility.

What can you, if elected as a councillor, do to help reduce crime in Dawson Creek? What ideas can you bring to the table?

Have the RCMP present their crime reduction strategy to the city and to key stakeholders on a 6 month basis.

With the legalization of marijuana, organise an education program concerning driving while impaired by drugs.

Review the effectiveness of the bylaw relating to nuisance properties (crack houses).

Support the local detachment commander in making sure that all municipal positions are filled.

Review the status and way of developing organisations such as Citizens on Patrol and the RCMP volunteer group.

Upgrade/establish the city’s traffic camera system – this will have a spin off in crime reduction.

How do you balance the push for economic growth and environmental sustainability?

I don’t see how this is possible unless you want to accept some of the spin-doctoring that is happening.  Environmentalists who support the development of the use of fossil fuels must be tying themselves into a knot.  I know that the Green Party and Greenpeace are clear in their position on this matter.

While empathic to the cause of our environment I don’t think the citizens of this region, as a whole, want to forgo the economic opportunity that LNG brings to our region

How do you see industry, small business, and non-profits’ relationship with the city of Dawson Creek?

Strong – we have good engagement with our non-profits.  Our relationship with the Chamber of Commerce has been solidified.  The mayor has got a great relationship with our major industry partners.

Do you think the downtown core is successful and thriving? Why or why not, and cite examples.

It has many successful elements but there are other elements that are struggling.  I am not willing to identify those elements that are struggling.  I am reluctant to identify successful elements in case I miss someone out.

What do you know about public transportation options in Dawson Creek? Do you have any ideas regarding public transportation?

This is an issue.  While we have nice busses and a good team of drivers our ridership level is the second lowest in BC.  Our climate must have a lot to do with this – how many elderly people will go out in cold days and with unsure footing?  Add to that the short daylight hours.

Step Up and Ride is a very successful model that could be copied.  In the UK they have a Wander Bus system where ridership is low.  People pre-book their rides and a pick up time and location is established.

We definitely need to look at more cost effective options 

It has been said by a handful of current councillors that DC must mind its fiscal gap and are not doing it. One current councillor pegs the city’s own building upkeep bill at approximately $40 million dollars behind. What has (or hasn’t) City Council done, and what more can be done?

I am one of those Councillors.  I have been advocating for this throughout my term of office.

The $40 million figure was a based on the Capital Depreciation of part of the city’s infrastructure.  The figure is 2 years old and the author of the report told Council that is would go up by $6million each year.  So that brings us up to $52 million dollars.

Major portions of the infrastructure had not gone through the assessment so the real figure is much higher.  In addition to this, the city has determined that there are other major pieces that need attention such as City Storm Sewer System replacement -$35 million, Fire Hall replacement - $10 million, 3 roads that have to be totally replaced -$10 million, Flood mitigation $? Million.  I could go on and on.  Some of us on Council believe that the actual total $ needed over the next 15 years approaches $150 million.

Some cuts to the operating budget have been made – some grants cut, after school care and summer recreational programmes.  

The city has developed a purpose statement for the fiscal gap initiative.  The city has engaged the community through a news release and associated questionnaire.

The city has partially developed a Capital Depreciation Inventory.  The city has developed a sewer master plan – partially completed, a city transportation plan – we have not funded this adequately.

The city developed and has implemented a plan to strengthen our water supply system.

What needs to be done?  At least a majority of the members of Council to support:

The need to develop and implement a long term plan to close the Fiscal Gap

The need to develop a long term plan to bring our infrastructure to a safe and acceptable standard – 10 year minimum.

I have been told by staff that the Multiplex may need to be replaced in about 50 years.  Can you imagine the cost 50 years from now?  We should be saving money for this eventuality but can we?  Not a chance.

 

If elected, what steps will you take to put DC on firmer financial footing?

If elected I will continue to try to get Council to address this issue.  It is not something we can forget about, it is not something growth will take care of.  The realities in our 2019 budget will force each member of Council to address this issue.  For example, it is projected that the city will have $4 million dollars available for capital projects in 2019.  We have 3 roads that have to be replaced – not repaired.  Total projected cost is $9 million. What about all the other capital projects? This is the fiscal gap catching up with us.

It’s easy to suggest projects, or improvements to services, but it all costs money and the City has a limited budget. Do you believe the City has to raise taxes in order to do what you feel needs to be done? Or do you feel there are services that can be cut? Why or why not?

A recently completed survey on the Fiscal Gap clearly shows that citizens want the city to cut services before it increases taxes.  A list of possible cuts to services should be presented to various groups for reaction.  The cost savings and the implications should be presented at the same time.  Alternatives should be solicited from the group and responded to by Council.  The implications for failing to make the cuts should be clearly articulated by Council.

As a reference point I believe that a tax rate increase of 1% yields $170.000.  The Chief Financial Officer in 2017 stated that a tax increase of 5% would be needed in 2019 just to meet the cost of inflation.  Any additions to the budget would cause the need for a further tax increase.  She forecast the need for further tax increases in 2020 and 2021.  She didn’t project beyond that date.

Do you want Rotary Lake opened? Why or Why not? If so – please provide a list of steps that should be taken by the city or that the city could recommend to operators. (And in what form, if it should re-open).

The fate of Rotary Lake is in the hands of Northern Health.  I cannot think of anything further that the city can do on this matter.  If the Rotary Clubs wish to take this on as a project it will have to meet all Northern Health requirements.  The current location is problematic.

With the removal of Rotary Lake, some have noted the lack of affordable recreation options for families and youth in Dawson Creek? What do you feel council has done in this regard, and what do you plan to bring to the table if elected? (Aside from your feelings on Rotary Lake).

I put forward the idea that there should be free family swimming at the Kenn Borek Aquatic Centre for July and August.  This was approved by Council and then amended to be free for all users in August.  I think this should be extended until we have a resolution of the Rotary Lake issue but only for families and just between 1:00pm and 5:00pm.

Are you in support of a runway extension at the Dawson Creek Regional Airport? Why or why not?

The airport is an important part of our infrastructure especially for medical evacuations. A runway extension is not a top priority for me -we have so many emergent needs for capital funds.  I have not seen a business case that indicates the economic benefit that would be brought to the city.  If this runway extension is needed by the oil gas sector they should present their case to Council and assist with the funding. 

What are your feelings on how City Council has handled the incoming legalization of recreational marijuana?

The framework for this initiative was orchestrated by the province.  Staff did a good job of developing and implementing the necessary bylaw.

Should councillors travel to and attend conferences and events inside and outside Dawson Creek that the Mayor may also already be attending, expensed to the City? If so, why and what tangible benefits must come out of these? If not, why not?

A lot of tax money is spent on travel.  

There are different types of events and conferences.  As it relates to municipal affairs at the regional and provincial level the city should vote and engage with other municipal governments.  We can learn from the experiences of other municipalities and we should have a voice in the development of the provincial platform.

Some events are for the development of Councillors and people should attend as necessary.

 I apply a different standard for other conferences.  I think members of Council wishing to attend other conferences should make their request at a regular meeting of Council outlining the benefits to the city if they attend.  The Council should vote to approve or not to approve the request.

You get one million dollars for a single DC or related area project. No strings attached — your choice. Where does that money go?

Give it to the Art Gallery to build the Edna McPhail Visual Art Studios adjacent to the Dawson Creek Art Gallery.  As there is no group studio space for the Visual Arts at KPAC the large number of painters, mixed media artists and printmakers do not have an adequate facility for the visual arts as a whole.

 

 

Don’t forget the DC Mirror council candidate mega-debate at Encana Events Centre Thursday Oct. 11.

 

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