Mayor Walt Cobb said he is seeking re-election because he wants to continue working to improve the city.
“It’s taken us four years to clean up some of the past practices at city hall and as you can see things are starting to move forward,” Cobb told the Tribune. “We are starting to get some development in town and I don’t want to go backwards.”
Williams Lake is in a period of transition as a community and needs to look at attracting development, he added.
At 74, Cobb has made the mayor’s job full-time for himself, he said.
“Because of some of the things that were going on, I felt I had to set an example. There were a lot of bad feelings with previous councils and the staff and I had to build that relationship back up. I think everything is working fine now.”
Cobb was mayor in the 90s, but said he finds this time around he’s “way more involved,” working with such entities as the school district, and health care, whereas before it was being on council was more about dealing with municipal issues only.
“I think that’s good because now there’s a connectivity between all the departments and we have more input. We know what they are doing and they know what we are doing. With our leaders moving forward meetings we have every month we get information from industry, RCMP, health care, etc. We discuss common goals and interests and see where we can help each other.”
Cobb said the top issues facing Williams Lake include the need to continue to work with all levels of government and other communities.
“If we don’t work together we are not going to get anything done.”
Another issue is negative comments circulating in the community, he said.
“Yes, there were things that went wrong, everybody makes mistakes, but I think dragging up things in the past is not the way to build relationships.”
Working with industry is important as well, he added.
“We have to seriously look at what our industries are. We have to be able to protect them. Land-use is going to be a huge issue as we transition into First Nations self-government. There has to be a lot of work done there to make sure we still have industry.”
City council needs to build relationships with staff, businesses, organizations, societies and the community at large, he added.
Cobb said Williams Lake’s crime severity is slowly improving.
“We got some extra support from the province. It meant somelobbying, but we’ve got a six-person team within the RCMP. They’ve been able to reduce crime and are focusing on drugs and organized crime. We’ve gone from number one and two down to seven. It was a two-year program and we’ve lobbied the government and are pretty sure they will continue funding at least another year and we are hoping for two years.”
Cobb also said Milo MacDonald who was inspector with the Williams Lake RCMP prior to taking the job as chief administrative officer is working to have the crime statistics to reflect the service-area population rather than just 12,000 people in the city.
“We will probably end up in the middle of the pack,” Cobb said. “We’ve been pushing for that for years, but until we had a CAO that had been an RCMP, nothing changed.”
Recently Cobb was appointed to the Resource Works Advisory Council, he is the president of Glen Arbor Housing Project, a legion director, member of the Rotary Club of Williams Lake and vice-president of Barkerville Heritage Trust.
As a young boy, Cobb moved to Williams Lake with his parents in 1955, from Manitoba where he was born.
After working cutting cord wood for the steamship Minto that plied Arrow Lakes, his father Fred moved the family to 100 Mile House area to work in logging and then to the Williams Lake area.
“We lived at Puntzi, Riske Creek, Meldrum Creek, McLeese Lake and on Fox Mountain,” Cobb recalled.
Eventually his mom, Christina, decided because her children were in high school it was time to settle down and the family moved into the very first house in Pine Valley, just north of Williams Lake.
When asked what he loves about Williams Lake, Cobb said it is home.
“I went away once for about three months to Alberta after my dad retired, but that’s it. Williams Lake is friendly and I guess because I’ve been here so long I know so many people.”
Cobb owned Walt’s Men’s Shop for 40 years and his wife Lynnette owned Lynnette’s Dress Shop.
“We raised our kids here and they both came back after going away to school. Our grandchildren are all here, except for one — he’s in Australia doing his exploring.”