Current city councillor and former mayor Ivan Bonnell is seeking reelection as a councillor in this year’s municipal election. Bonnell has served 21 years as council, and said he is keen to continue as he believes Williams Lake has a bright future. Bonnell moved to Williams Lake in 1992 to work for Canada Post and retired after 24 years almost two years ago.
What is the solution to Williams Lake’s current housing and rental shortage?
The solution is to develop more single family and multi-density housing inventory. The west side of the City and at the end of Western Ave is where the most vacant land is available for development. Economic viability of these lands for development is challenged by the costs of road access. Entering into development agreements with landowners/developers to address these costs will assist in having more housing options that is affordable to residents.
What are your thoughts on the proposal to burn rail ties at Atlantic Power?
Atlantic Power had been permitted to supplement their fiber supply with a 50% mix of rail ties. In 2016 Atlantic Power sought to increase that ratio to 100%. After some test burns, the Ministry of Environment approved the amendment to the permit. That amendment has been challenged through the Environmental Assessment Appeals Board. Those hearings have ended and a decision is expected to be released very soon.
The technology and engineering knowledge exist to safely dispose of rail ties with no harm to life or the environment. The MOE is responsible ensure all industrial activity is in compliance with government standards. We must ensure that the MOE provides full public disclosure and transparency of their findings. Then can we can examine the scientific evidence. This is essential for the goal of economic prosperity with environmental protection.
What measures by council do you think would help diversify and strengthen the local economy?
The Official Community Plan envisions the future growth by setting the direction of land use, municipal services and other policy objectives. City Council should undertake a review of the OCP during the next term to ensure all aspects are still relevant.
Working in partnership with First Nations,Local governments and other agencies will ensure that Williams Lake continues to be the administrative and commercial service center in the region.
Health and education services,certainty for economic growth and social equality can be improved locally by working together.
With the change in climate and increasing threat of wildfires, what strategies would you support to make the community safer and more resilient?
The City has a wildfire protection plan. Efforts are underway to maximize our ability to do as many of the identified prescriptions as possible, increase our ability to secure available grant funding and coordinate with the Cariboo Regional District, Ministry of Forests, WL Community Forest and others to ensure we are all on the page.
The majority of actions will occur outside of the City, however there are some lands inside the City that require attention to properly manage the fuel load. These efforts are focused on protecting inhabited structures and critical infrastructure.
Considering we always rank in the top 10 for crime severity, do you think Williams Lake is a safe place to live for everyone?
Yes. Policing services have achieved remarkable progress in reducing the crime severity across the board. However the Police cannot do it alone. It is our civic responsibility to reduce the opportunity for criminal activity to occur and assist the Police by reporting incidents of crime we may witness.
The method used by Statistics Canada in reporting crime severity does not present an accurate picture of our community. Other communities share the same feeling. Discussions are ongoing to modernize the Statistics Canada reporting methodology.
What would you do to protect and/or enhance the city’s air quality?
Working with stakeholders to reinvigorate the Air Quality Committee is required to develop strategies for an Air Shed Plan that will assist in reducing air contaminates at their source.
Utilizing the best technology available to further reduce contaminates will assist. The City uses all the tools available in its operations to reduce its carbon footprint as well as activities that lessen the amount of PM 2.5 emanating from streets and roads.
What ideas do you have for the proposed trail and amenities on the RC Cotton Site that would preserve Scout Island as a nature sanctuary and wildlife viewing area while giving residents more access to the lake?
The Trails and Park master plan has identified opportunities to achieve this objective. Securing the land to make this happen is taking a long time. However it is coming together. Working together in partnership with all interested parties to achieve values we hold for Scout Island, the lake, the river valley and the natural environment can be done. Accessing available grant funding will help in greatly in bringing this goal to realization.