In the days leading up to the municipal election on October 16, we will be publishing the answers to questions posed by 2day FM to the candidates running in the City of Grande Prairie. The responses are listed in alphabetical order by position and are unedited. They have not been fact checked and 2day FM is not responsible for any errors or inaccuracies.

Q: In your opinion what has been the biggest success of city council over the past four years? What has been the biggest failure?

MAYOR

Dick Baillie

A: Their biggest success is the completion of the 68 th avenue twinning, although there seems to be a few details they are still working on, but they will hopefully make the road and walkways 100% usable by the end of this construction season.

Their biggest failure is the lack of open communication and transparency. There are many residents of this city who feel their individual and collective voices aren’t being heard in city hall. There are also a great number of people who are concerned about the lack of transparency relating to communication between the city and various industry or establishments. For example, there are many inquiries referencing to the city owned Eastlink center and its changing operations, as well as, the deteriorating relationships between the city and frustrated business owners. There are many things people feel they are “kept in the dark” about; this should never happen in a municipal government that is intended to work with and for its community.

Bill Given

A: The biggest failure is easy; our troubles related to the Eastlink Centre. This has been personally troubling for me on two levels: First, council did everything that it should have “by the book” including; demanding additional auditing review, strengthening our financial controls; brining in outside help to review operations and putting more accountability measures in place. And, in spite of all these steps we continued to face face challenges at the facility. The second reason this troubles me is because the Eastlink Centre plays such an important role in the lives of so many GP residents – it is a fantastic facility with passionate staff and it’s a shame that it’s reputation has been damaged. I’m determined to work with our administration and the community to make sure it gets back to being a jewel we can proudly call our own.

Our biggest success has been in managing change. For a variety of reasons, over the course of this past term the City has seen the change in many important positions including the City Manger, Chief Financial Officer, a number of directors, the Fire Chief, the Officer in Charge at the RCMP Detachment, General Managers at Eastlink Centre and Revolution Place and a number of other key team members.

We’ve also navigated our way though the first change in provincial government in my lifetime when the NDP came to power in 2015 and a subsequent change in the federal government as well. Through all change this Council and the team of dedicated employees at the city, have continued to move our community forward toward the strategic vision council set at the start of this term. I think that progress in the face of massive change has been our biggest accomplishment.

Theodore Nikiforuk

A: Failure.
Roadwork projects with longer than antcipated timelines causing cost over runs

Success.
The antcipated completion of a true bypass. The existing bupass was obsolete the minute it opened. Once completed development can expand in the area of existing bypass.

Rony Pajput

Withdrawn.

COUNCILLORS

Clyde Blackburn

A: I cannot measure the work of council in successes and failures. Over the course of four years, council and its committees have dealt with dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces of business. Some are major – such as management of the Eastlink Centre and the decisions on downtown rehabilitation. Many are minor and too numerous to mention. No decision pleases everyone; I believe that, in every case, council members have the best interests of the city and its citizens at heart.

Dylan Bressey

A: Council successfully advocated for more land through annexation. I do wish that communication through the process was better. I’ve talked to many people in annexed lands who are angry and scared, and I can’t blame them. However, this expansion was necessary. We need the land to grow our industrial and commercial tax base. I’ve heard accounts of the City doing a good job with service in our rural service area. I’m also satisfied with the start on land use planning we have made. If elected, I look forward to voting on the Hughes Lake Area Structure Plan very early in my term.

I haven’t been aiming a lot of criticisms at our current Council. That isn’t the kind of campaign I am comfortable running. But since you asked…

The Eastlink Centre has had very big and very public failures. This is not acceptable. It has potential to be a jewel of our City which contributes to our economy. Instead, it is leaving people disappointed while costing taxpayers lots of money. Most of its problems have been operational in nature, and Council needs to be careful not to overstep its role by meddling in operations. At the same time, I think Council could’ve done a better job of monitoring the Eastlink Centre, asking questions, and holding administration to account. Council also could’ve done a much better job of engaging and reassuring the public.

If elected, I have pointed questions I plan to pursue about our hiring and promoting procedures and around our staff accountability methods. I want to ensure we are using best practices across the City. I also look forward to rolling up my sleeves to help restore public trust in the Eastlink Centre.

Jackie Clayton

A: There are many things I feel were successes, however to name a couple things, I am proud of the work I did in working with Council to approve the new Bear Creek outdoor pool and play area, which will open in summer of 2018. 

As well, I am proud of the work done with Administration and Council in establishing the Downtown Incentives program. This program included the Downtown Façade Improvement Grant which rewarded Downtown building owners for making improvements to the fronts of their buildings enhancing the aesthetic appeal, pedestrian access and public safety. As a strong supporter of entrepreneurship and economic development in Grande Prairie, this was very important to me. 

In regards to a failure; I feel that Council approving a pay raise for the next Council was unfortunate. Even though the Council job is very demanding and deserves to be paid accordingly. I disagreed with the discussion that a raise in pay would get more qualified candidates. I think we had a very diverse Council this past term. And the decision to put your name forward should be based on your passion for our Community not on what it will pay you.

John Croken

A: biggest failure Proper running of the eastlink centre . too many closures no life gaurds the list goes on on our Premier facility in the city.

Shannon Dunfield

A: Successes and failures are subjective and everyone has their own perspectives based on their priorities and needs. From my perspective the biggest success of city council over the last four years is how the city is engaging with the Indigenous community. The naming of Maskwoteh Park, Mamwe Concourse and Orange Shirt Day are just to name a few. In terms of biggest failure, I feel there has been some challenges our city council has faced and has does their best to address and work through it with our community.

Sydney Fletcher

A: Biggest success: nothing obvious comes to mind! Biggest failure: Mismanagement of the Eastlink “white elephant” and the Leisure Centre/Bear Creek Pools.

Eunice Friesen

A: This is by far the most difficult question to answer.

If I had to choose, I would say that the outgoing council’s commitment to the green spaces of our city has been wildly successful. Our trail system (even though there is room for growth on the east side of the city) is beautiful. The honour paid to notable residents in the 100 th Anniversary “100 names for 100 parks” program was awesome. I wish I still had little children to play at Maskwoteh Park north of the reservoir.

I’m hard pressed to choose a big failure, but I will criticize a decision. Re-opening the Bear Creek Pool was controversial at best, and I would like to have seen how many neighbourhood spray parks could have been built for the money it will take to restore it. I love an outdoor pool as much as anyone, but as a young mom I would rather have had a nearby spray park. Considering our demographic in the city, I suspect such a direction might have been considered a big success for the outgoing council.

John Kriska

A: I believe that this would be the Eastlink Center it has provided services to the people of Grande Prairie and drawn new people to the area. However, it has also been a great source of financial burden to the city with it’s
mismanagement and quality of construction.

Kevin McLean

A: The biggest success was our teamwork. The biggest failure is not getting the fair funding from the province.

Yad Minhas

A: Difficult to answer because it depends on your perspective of success and failure of projects or lack of them. Overall I think the current council and administration have been doing a good job.

Cheryl Montgomery

A: I think there are lots of recent successes, but just to name two – 1) The Downtown Revitalization getting underway. This is a massive undertaking and though it is causing some pain, the long term planning will be a wonderful renewed sense of pride in our downtown core. Improved property values, increased shopping and overall customer experience. 2) is 68th ave. I drove that road for 6 years and was frustrated with the traffic. To drive it now is such a pleasure. A big project and worth every penny. Short term pain for long term gain.

In the Success / Failure catagory, I would place Eastlink Centre. The most incredible facility in northern Alberta if not Canada. A world class venue that has the capacity and ability to provide incredible opportunities for revenue generation.This asset should clearly be something our community is proud of and supports wholeheartedly to turn around the revenue. The Fail part of the equation is the lack of direction and leadership. But with renewed leadership and a solid, I hope to see this incredible facility back on track quickly.

Timothy Nesbitt

A: As someone who preaches the need for community, I have been very impressed by the bond that our current council has developed. They are 9 very different people who’ve grown together to create a family who shows respect and interest into the lives of one another. I have known several of the council members for years and respect them, but find that I appreciate them more because of their ability to work together to accomplish things for the good of the residents in Grande Prairie.

The things that they have created and built for the City have been extremely positive. Their greatest failure then, is that these accomplishments aren’t always viewed in a positive light. Communication of ideas, intentions and direction have always been a struggle and will continue to be a concern needing address in the future council.

Kevin O’Toole

A: I am going with the annexation as being a milestone achievement with the access to new land the city will be able to provide industrial and commercial growth which will bring investment within our city’s borders.

Wade Pilat

A: I believe that some major success have been hiring a new City manager. The work he has done to start some housekeeping in City operations will prove to be valuable in regards to culture, budgeting and performance. The path connectivity throughout the City has been a great success in maintaining a valued sense of community and wellbeing.

As for some failures, I believe that the Eastlink Center operations and the lack of communication regarding the financial losses was one that affected both the City budget as well as the residents confidence. Also the communication and cost in regards to the downtown project isn’t sitting very well with me. For those that have been following my weekly meeting updates you will notice a frequency of meetings with downtown business owners. These two items alone play a huge role in our current property taxes and people just aren’t seeing the value.

Tyla Savard

A: We are a vibrant community, yes there are areas we can improve upon but there will always be areas of improvement. We also need to be aware that every decision has a ripple effect on our community and we need to ensure we are watching for those effects and making improvements to lessen hindrances. I think we can enhance our approach to doing business, better strategize some efforts and engage more with all demographics of our community to ensure we are making the best, most informed decisions. We need to improve upon our communication, be accountable for decisions and show transparency.

Morgan Suurd

A: The biggest success of this Council was to reopen Bear Creek pool the biggest failure would be a tie between winnrose and photo radar

Chris Thiessen

A: City Council’s biggest success the past four years has been how we purposefully worked towards building a better community now and in the future, by addressing our needs and minimizing frivolous expenditures. This is largely and best reflected in infrastructure and examples of this are all over the city as follows:

– Twinning of 92 nd Street and 68 th Avenue
– Expanding the flows of our underground infrastructure in the downtown to handle higher densities of growth
– Creating the Community Mobility Plan which helped create more and better connections of our trails and walkways around the City with access to neighbourhoods, transit, and nature
– Advocating the Province for a secondary bypass (highway 43X) and getting it approved to build
– Investing in Transit and approving the Transit Master Plan
– Investing in lands to support the construction of more affordable housing
– Bringing back the Bear Creek Pool.
– Creating the Edible Landscaping/Community Gardens Policy which has supported the planting of 3 apple orchards in the Mountview, Pinnacle, and Highland Park neighbourhoods, as well as numerous edible plantings around the city
– Expansion of our green spaces in Muskowoteh Park, South Bear Creek, and Mamawe Concourse

Our biggest failure was not capitalizing on our successes by showcasing our wins better. The above list is just a snapshot of what we did as an organization, but Council did far more this term than improving infrastructure. We encouraged the formation of Neighbourhood Associations and saw them double. We invested in community safety and are seeing our criminal stats decline. We supported and created arts and culture events for the benefit of our community. We named 100 Parks after 100 of our Pioneering citizens. We encouraged more efficient and streamlined operations. And so much more! If we promoted ourselves better, the snippets of negative headlines wouldn’t have dominated as much.

Cam White

A: Biggest success – Beautification of Grande Prairie (Disc golf course funding, painting light posts, downtown rehabilitation, etc.)

Biggest failure – Keeping in communication with the people of Grande Prairie so we know what is happening in our city.

Mike Wolfel

No response submitted.