Houston mayor Shane Brienen told Houston Today he plans on running for re-election this year.
Brienen, who took office in 2014 after serving as councillor in the previous three terms, says this has been one of the toughest terms for a council in Houston.
“The loss of West Fraser’s Houston Forest Products mill had a major impact on the community, and with it came many challenges such as losing some businesses – most notably our major grocery store and the closure of our college,” he said.
Houston Forest Products closed in 2014, affecting 217 employees. Super Valu, which served Houston residents for over 40 years, closed its doors in June 2016. Houston’s Northwest Community College campus closed due to a decline in student enrollment in June 2017.
Brienen also noted the closure of Huckleberry Mine. The open pit copper mine, located 130 km south of Smithers, was placed on care and maintenance in September 2016 after declining world demand saw copper prices plummet.
“As a council and as a community we have struggled, but it feels like we are getting our feet back under us as we have added many new businesses and jobs the last 12 months and seem to be getting some confidence in ourselves again,” he said.
“Through it all we managed to tackle some major infrastructure projects such as our water treatment facility and are close to completion on our new water tower; also we have secured funding for a sewer outfall project that is badly needed.”
Moving forward, Brienen said he would like to focus on Houston’s Hwy. 16 corridor improvement project, downtown revitalization, and roads.
Houston Today also asked all Houston councillors if they plan on running for re-election. Councillor John Siebenga said he plans on running again, while councillor Dennis Tait said he will make this decision in September. The other four councillors did not respond by press time.
Councillor Siebenga says Houston currently has a “good-working” council.
“We took very seriously that we are here for the town and the good of the town,” said Siebenga. “The water tower got built, the water lines got pigged and the District of Houston has much improved water quality today.”
“We are currently working on curbs, sidewalks and lights on the north side of Hwy. 16 and look forward to addressing the south side in the future,” he continued. “Not to mention the grocery store finally opening last November would be a grave oversight; it is one of the most positive things that have happened to Houston in a long time.”
Going forward, Siebenga says council will need to work on diversifying its employment base.
“Though the logging industry will always be the mainstay of the community, we will need to work on attracting other businesses and employment opportunities to our town,” he said.
Mayor and council nominations will be accepted at the district office during the nomination period – between 9 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2018 and 4 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2018.
Although prospective candidates may choose to announce their candidacy months in advance of the election on Oct. 20, the only candidates eligible for election are those who submit their completed nomination papers at the district office during the nomination period.
“As such, there are no nominees for mayor or council at this time, and won’t be for several months,” explained Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer.
Pinchbeck has been appointed as deputy chief election officer while Jessica Bagnall will be the chief election officer for the upcoming election.