Councillor candidates were asked a variety of questions from the crowd at the All Candidates meeting last Tuesday.
Below are some questions and answers from candidates running for a position as councillor for the next four years.
What does 24/7 health care mean and how will you accomplish this?
Tom Stringfellow: For years we’ve had a really difficult time opening the door to 24/7 health care. One thing I’ve looked into is a community para-medicine program, newly announced in 2014. It’s an agreement between the Province and Ambulance paramedics that’s going to roll out in the next five years. There’s 80 new paramedic jobs provincially and a $50,000 fund for rural and remote areas. Community paramedics can perform routine treatments in your own home as opposed to being carried off to Smithers or Burns Lake. The intent of the program is to fill service gaps, not replace existing services. We should pursue it with the Provincial Government and get ourselves at the top of the list for one of these positions.
What more can Houston do to help promote tourism?
Jonathan Van Barneveld: I’m a director on the Houston Hikers Society, which manages most of the hiking trails and the development of the mountain bike trails on Mount Harry Davis. Houston is an untapped gem, and when you put it on paper, we actually have more to do here then Smithers, but it seems that Smithers has been really good at marketing themselves. When it comes to tourism we need to show the aspects that we do have. Houston has just developed a very professional tourism guide and I think we can go endless places with that. As well as promoting ourselves, we also need to work regionally with tourism. It’s about cooperation, about showing the north and showing who we are.
What will you do to help projects for youth, such as the BMX track, be successful?
Tim Anderson: In a community like Houston, if you were to ask people to give, I think they would give. It just takes a few people and a few pieces of equipment to improve projects like the BMX track or buildings or parks. I would look for people willing to give their time and effort to help upgrade facilities.
What are specific ways to care for seniors and youth?
John Siebenga: We can start with 24/7 health care. I’m also interested in ideas about making our streets more age-friendly. For youth, we have some really good things going in this District, and it’s about promoting those things and making them more accessible to the youth.
Tim Anderson: I’m totally on board with making our streets more accessible to seniors. It’s hard for people with disabilities and the elderly get around town and access businesses. I want to make streets and businesses more accessible.
Has there been any attempt to improve air quality in the valley? It doesn’t appear to have improved since the beehive burners shut down.
Jonathan Van Barneveld: I’ve been on the Airshed Management Society for the Bulkley Valley. Since the beehive burners have shut down, market data is showing slow marked increases in air quality, but still we’re way above the levels we’re allowed by the Ministry of Health. A Bulkley Valley Airshed Management Plan was released last year and it focused on things like road dust. For Houston, we might think the wood smoke in the winter is our big thing, but in the spring, our air quality advisories are focused more on road dust. Every municipality needs to focus on timing for street sweeping, and we need to continue to support the wood stove exchange program.