In the second part of our coverage of the All Candidates Forum leading up to Kimberley’s 2022 general municipal election, we look at the second questions each candidate responded to.
See Part 1 here: All Candidates Forum, Part 1
If you would like to view the forum in its entirety you can do so courtesy of the Kimberley & District Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.
Woody Maguire’s second question was, “do you have any ideas on how to attract investment and what type of investment would be the most beneficial to Kimberley?”
“The first thing that comes to mind is identifying land that can be used for industrial use and working to make that available for development,” he replied. He added that he would like to see Council more fully support the Chamber of Commerce and tasking staff with more development activities.
Craig Janzen used used his second rebuttal here to say that in order for Kimberley to remain competitive the key is to remove unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape. He used an anecdote of recently contacting the City of Cranbrook for more information about building an 11-unit townhouse.
Janzen said his email with questions about purchasing the land was unanswered twice before he carbon copied the Mayor in the email and heard back.
“That’s a turnoff,” he said. “That’s one thing I appreciate about our city is the accessibility we have to our city’s staff, and that’s one thing that I think will really help drive our business future here.”
Kevin Dunnebacke was next up and was asked what his vision for Kimberley for the next 20 years is, to which he replied, he wants to see the city become more diverse.
“We have to have light industry of some sort. It would nice to be able to, as a grown man, to buy some clothes here and not have to drive to Cranbrook, other than a pair of $40 socks,” he said, garnering laughter from the crowd.
He added that the community has grown Kimberley together, building the ski hill and the golf courses, and he said he needs the community needs to remember that and work hard to maintain that tourism base, while making sure that there are sustainable jobs and affordable housing to attract and keep young people and families.
Andrew Skaien was next asked: “What are the biggest fiscal challenges in the commuity and what do you envision as the best way to address them?”
Skaien said he thinks the “growing list of infrastructure updates and upgrade that would be needed,” putting emphasis on the waste water treatment plant.
He lauded the City for bringing in a firm to assess existing facilities, saying it was a good way to prioritize what issues need to be tackled first.
Maguire rebutted, saying one thing that was missed was tasking staff with having “shelf-ready” projects targeted towards specific grants, to increase chances for further funding.
Councillor McBain was asked what indicators will show he’s had a successful term. McBain again mentioned the wastewater treatment plant, saying that moving that project forward would be a huge step for Kimberley. He added that trying to keep tax increases in line with the current cost of living is another important thing for Council to do, as well as working their way down the existing infrastructure deficit priority list.
Steven Royer was then asked how can the City best support the business community, to which he responded that the best way would be for the City to work together with the business community. He commended the Chamber for maintaining its membership and keeping them updated, and said the City is doing great as well.
Next, Craig Janzen, when asked how housing development can be attracted, supported and facilitated by the City, said he thinks that Mayor Don McCormick has been a good proponent for getting the word out about housing, and he thinks the next level on the foundation will be business, saying there’s a lot of opportunity there.
“It’s really important not to penalize one sector that’s doing well in hopes to grow another,” he said. He brought up the example of Airbnb, saying that “business people know business,” and if there are too many Airbnbs, owners will look for other options such as long term rentals. He again mentioned removing red tape to make sure Kimberley stays competitive on a business level.
Sue Cairns rebutted, saying there is a huge need for housing for a wide range of people, young, old, workers, families, and she said there is a wide range of funding initiatives that are becoming available every day, for instance from the National Housing Strategy. She said she would bring those to the attention of non-profits and developers and the city as a whole to bring attention to those potential partnerships to increase supply of housing.
She was then asked what her thoughts on how taxation rates and structure should develop or be amended. She said the City needs to continue to review all taxation rates to make sure they are fair and competitive with other communities, and to continue to diversify the tax base in a sustainable manner.
The final question of the night went to Councillor Sandra Roberts: “what role should the city play in facilitating the execution of tourism strategy and amenity development?”
She said tourism strategy is the role of the BC Chamber of Commerce, in terms of tourism buildings and grants.
“As far as the City is concerned, when we look at what tourism amenities are, they’re usually part of businesses. The society that does the railroad, or some sort of amenity that attracts people.”
She said as part of the charter, the City is not in a place to assist any individual business, so its role is to ensure Kimberley is a good place to be, where a tourism amenity might want to set up shop.
Cairns put in a rebuttal, saying tourism relies on low-paying service jobs, which is a challenge given the current housing realities.
“While tourism will always be an important part of Kimberley’s economy, I think we would do well to focus on increasing the diversity of our local economy as opposed to putting all our eggs in a tourism basket,” Cairns said.
Roberts then rebutted to this, adding, “After Teck went away, tourism is what we do here.”
“Right now in the year 2021 commercial taxes paid to the City of Kimberley were 13.9 per cent of the tax base,” Roberts said. “That means that the tax base is all residential, almost everything we do is paid by residents, not by businesses.”
She added that since Teck went away in 2001, “everyone has been doing everything they can do to attract clean business. We haven’t quit, but it’s really hard to come by.”