DC candidates in-depth: Cheryl Shuman

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?

Over the years I have participated in many volunteer board activities: PAC groups at my children’s schools, The Kiwanis Community Band, Peace Energy Cooperative, Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre Society, Housing Response Network, KidSport, Harm Reduction Committee, Success by Six, The Dawson Creek Watershed Society. All of these groups have had successes and have contributed to the quality of life in Dawson Creek.  I would say the most visible success of a group that I was so very proud to be involved in would be the Peace Energy Cooperative and their involvement in the development of the Bear Mountain Wind Park. 

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

The role of a city council member in a city, of any size, is to listen to the concerns and perspectives of the citizens and bring those concerns and perspectives with you when setting strategic goals, deciding policy and procedures, adopting bylaws, budgeting, zoning etc.   A city councillor should be a respectable representative, who represents the city of Dawson Creek with energy and passion. A city councillor should always be transparent and show up prepared and willing to understand the facts of the matter, debate respectfully and value decisions made democratically.  

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

I definitely feel like I still have so much to contribute to the City of Dawson Creek. I am excited to see what the new vision for Event and Sport Tourism will grow into with the support of Council.  I also want to be at the table to help make decisions on what use we make out of the old Grandview property on 95th.

What are the three most important issues facing the City?

Fiscal challenges in finding new revenues to offset future tax increases to the citizens of Dawson Creek. Trying to provide current services at a rate affordable to our citizens as the cost of providing those service increases steadily.  Funding for the infrastructure upgrades needed within the city into the future. Community safety issues and the crisis that is opiate addiction/overdose is certainly an issue facing the city. Finding partners and funding for affordable and supportive housing development at the old Grandview property on 95th ave.  

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

It is important for the City Council of Dawson Creek to maintain a open dialogue with Northern Health, The Ministry of Health, School District 59, The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Advanced Education so that we may be able to make them aware of needs and concerns expressed by the citizens of Dawson Creek.  Advocating for our citizens health services and education to higher levels of government is a top priority.

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

Continue to fund and support our RCMP detachment’s efforts in law enforcement and crime reduction.  Filling member vacancies continues to be a challenge. City Council should help with recruitment efforts wherever possible.  It is also important to raise awareness of and support community organizations dedicated to crime prevention and harm reduction. 

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

As a City Council member it is important to appreciate and support the need for both economic growth and environmental sustainability. I believe that industry wants to do things in a more sustainable way and that it is important to work with them to achieve our common goal of balancing the economic opportunities and the well- being of our environment. I have supported projects that reduce the environmental impact of resource development such as the Reclaimed Water Project that reduces the fresh water used in the oil and gas industry. I also support the work being done in our watershed, we have many stakeholders within our watershed and working together we can reduce the risk to our city’s water supply.  I support the work of “Sustainable Dawson Creek” in promoting waste reduction, energy conservation/ efficiency and adoption of renewable energy technologies.

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

As a city council member I see the relationships between the city, industry, small business and not for profits as being very positive.  I am very supportive of not for profit organizations as I see them doing very important work in our community and improving the quality of life for our citizens. I also understand the importance of the small businesses in Dawson Creek and support “shop local” as well as Love Dawson Creek and I see many small businesses thriving in Dawson Creek.  The city has, I believe, a very strong relationship with industry in our area. It is important that we stay very engaged with the various industries in the area as a strong economy is important to city and our citizens.

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

I feel the downtown is doing well. It appears as there is a low vacancy rate downtown and there are even new projects being built as I type. Speaking to small business owners I hear that business is good. I do however believe that we need to spend some time and come up with a revitalization plan for the downtown.  We need a plan to deal with the many brownfields vacated by former gas stations and buildings that have either burnt down or were torn down.

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

I know that public transit costs the city of Dawson Creek a lot of money every year. That being said I absolutely support keeping our transit system in place.  Not everyone owns a car or can drive a car for that matter. Many senior, youth and disabled citizens depend on our transit system to get them to where they need to go.  We have spent a lot of time and effort over the years engaging our citizens and putting this system into place. I will continue to support public transit in Dawson Creek. 

It has been said by a handful of current councilors that DC must mind its fiscal gap and are not doing it. One current councilor 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?

The infrastructure deficit is real, and the city of Dawson Creek is not the only city in BC or Canada for that matter to suffer from it.  The City of Dawson Creek does have a several projects coming up into the future that will be costly. Our Fire Hall will need renovation or replacement, our city works buildings and our City Hall, are both nearing end of life.  As a City Council member I will participate in the conversations, planning and decisions to plan for and raise funds for these infrastructure upgrades.

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

I believe that we need to work to find new revenues to take the pressure off of our ratepayers at property tax time.  We provide a lot of service that is regional in nature and we are not being adequately supported financially for providing those services.  I will use our Dawson Creek Regional airport as an example, the citizens of Dawson Creek fund this airport, yet one of the most important functions of the airport is to provide air ambulance service to the South Peace Region. We need to work together with our neighbors to provide these services without putting the entire burden on the ratepayers of Dawson Creek.

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?

The job of City Council is to provide services to the citizens of Dawson Creek at an affordable rate.  The difficulty we face is that the cost of those services go up every year even without adding to them. We recently completed a service capacity review to identify efficiencies in the way we provide the many services. It is my hope that by identifying these efficiencies we can continue to provide the current services at the same time as keeping it affordable for our citizens. 

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).

I have heard from so many citizens on the subject of Rotary Lake.  Many want the lake to be re-opened as it is.  Many think that it has had its day and should be closed or upgraded to conform with the pool regulations outlined by the Ministry of Health and the Public Health officer. I have heard concerns that spending a lot of money for an amenity that is located in a flood zone is not a wise decision. There have been ideas from service groups about creating a new Summer water park in a more accessible location. City Council’s job moving forward is to understand all the facts of the matter, what will be permitted, what won’t, understand if we can afford to upgrade the lake to the standards the Province is requesting from us. I understand that the community loved Rotary Lake so I am not opposed to conforming to the standards set by the Province, for me the safety of our citizens is top priority and whatever decision council makes I will be putting public safety at the top of the list.

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).

Each and every year the City of Dawson Creek allocates about 8 million dollars to our parks and recreation department. This budget line funds parks, soccer pitches, baseball fields, swimming pool, ice arenas, curling rink, recreation programs, the arts centre and the list goes on and on.  We provide low cost events for those who may not be able to afford some of the more expensive programs, toonie swims, skates, climbs and this Summer we provided free swimming for the months of July and August due to the closer of Rotary Lake.  I believe that the City is providing ample opportunities for all citizens to take part in recreational activities.

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

I am in support of a runway extension at our airport if we can find grants to offset the cost of the upgrade. 

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

I feel that City Council has handled the legalization of cannabis in a very responsible way. We consulted with our citizens through surveys, at community events and a town hall meeting. We had amazing participation and heard from hundreds and hundreds of residents.  There wasn’t a lot of time to get everything in place before the October 2018 date for legalization and staff and Council worked diligently to get everything in order.

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?

I believe it is important to attend conferences and events in and out of the city. Many conferences that we attend give Council the opportunity to network and meet with higher levels of government, to advocate for issues affecting our citizens. There are also learning opportunities to be had at different events.  Some councillors choose not to participate, but I feel they are beneficial. When I was elected I did not “know it all” and I certainly have learned so much about good governance and best practices in local government by attending conferences and events. 

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

Well a million dollars certainly doesn’t go as far as you would think, especially when you consider it costs more than that to upgrade and pave 2 city blocks. But I think I would use the million towards understanding what the gaps are in housing in Dawson Creek and then finding partners locally and provincially to develop the old Grandview property on 95th ave to fill those gaps. 

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

 

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