City council hopeful Marnie Brenner (right) and her campaign manager Kimberly Code attended the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce meet and greet held Thursday, Oct. 4. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Meet Williams Lake city council candidate: Marnie Brenner


Marnie Brenner hopes her background will bring a unique prespective to council. A nurse, Brenner said her 26 years of nursing in several different areas, and her First Nations background can bring a bit of a different and unique perspective to the council table.

What is the solution to Williams Lake’s current housing and rental shortage?

Lack of affordable housing options has led to rising numbers of individuals experiencing homelessness, an inability for young families to save for a down payment on a home, employers struggling with recruitment and retention of workers

Local governments are responsible for ensuring a suitable supply of housing, in a range of types and locations, to meet community needs now and in the future.

The Affordable Housing Plan for BC provides recommendations around the following 4 strategies.

1. Supply: Expand and adequately maintain our affordable housing stock to alleviate

system-wide affordability pressures

2. Income: Reduce poverty and provide income supports to current renter households and people experiencing homelessness

3. Homelessness: Create necessary supply, financial supports and coordinated support services

4. Innovation: Apply innovative solutions in partnership with the Community

Housing Sector: By working with local stakeholders and partnering with government in developing solutions we can continue to tackle the current housing and rental shortage. A recent example is the joint project between the Association for Community Living Williams Lake and the BC Housing Management Corporation that was announced September 24, 2018.

What are your thoughts on the proposal to burn rail ties at Atlantic Power?

I believe it is not beneficial for the City of Williams Lake. After reading the Impact of Open Burning Railway Ties in British Colombia report, and the Atlantic Power consultation report, the most beneficial aspect of this project is the jobs it will create and the tax base paid to the city.

However, in the consultation report, the residual buildup of toxins and inversion conditions that prevent dispersion was labelled as worst case.

As Williams Lake is in a valley, we have periods of time when the air pollution is trapped in the valley due to temperature inversion, especially in recent years due to the increase in wildfire smoke. Last year during the summer it was stated that our air quality was equivalent to smoking 7 cigarettes per day.

I also believe that by agreeing to burn railway ties we are sending a message to people and companies looking to relocate to the city that is negative. It could be perceived that we are willing to participate in risky activities where the environment is concerned.

Before the city makes a final decision, I would like to see data from trial runs and health impact studies both short and long term from other areas in which this is happening. I would also like to see the city consider an alternative fiber source.

What measures by council do you think would help diversify and strengthen the local economy?

I believe that the city should continue to work on the Williams Lake Business Expansion and Attraction Strategy that was adopted by Mayor and Council in mid 2011 and is currently being implemented by the department in consultation with other community stakeholders.

Based on the research and the key informant interview program, a strategy was developed that focused on moving the City of Williams Lake towards its strategic objective of a larger and more diversified business sector. To achieve this objective, six key strategy areas have been developed focusing on the basic sectors, support to the basic sector, and the non‐basic sector.

1. Improvement in the Industrial Business Climate

2. Growing the Economic Importance of the Government Sector

3. Supporting the Development of Business Related Assets and Participating in Regional Marketing Initiatives

4. Fostering Growth within Businesses Supporting the Basic Sector

5. Organizing Information to Support Investment in the Non‐basic Sector

6. Supporting Revitalization and Investment in the Downtown.

I think that by implementing more attributes of successful downtowns and by partnering with local community members to be actively involved in planning and decision-making we can grow our local economy.

With the change in climate and increasing threat of wildfires, what strategies would you support to make the community safer and more resilient?

Over the past couple of years we have seen an increase in extreme wild fire behavior in BC. It will be important to learn from previous years and prepare now for a better outcome.

Community protection needs to be ramped up. A comprehensive integrated approach is necessary. We will need to build upon current relationships with the regional district and First Nations for emergency planning before a crisis happens. We could reduce the vulnerability of structures by implementing a multiyear strategy. It is also very important to engage the public with events such as the Wildfire Info Expo and free family barbeque offered earlier this year. While bringing people together to celebrate resilience, it offered fire smart information, registration for emergency alerts and tools and tips for the flood and fire season.

Considering that we always rank in the top 10 for crime severity, do you think Williams Lake is a safe place to live for everyone?

As reported by Jeff Pelley, RCMP Detachment Commander at the Oct 9,2018 regular council meeting, the city received 5,932 calls for service and 2,208 calls for service in the outlying areas. There was a 0% increase for calls in the city and a 2% increase for calls in the outlying communities over last year.

I believe that Williams Lake is a safe place to live for everyone. The stats would look differently if Statistics Canada calculated the numbers including the people from outlying areas that enter into our community.

While the numbers are still high, the city is working with the RCMP and local stakeholders to decrease the amount of crime in Williams Lake.

The RCMP is actively working to decrease vacancies in the general duty uniform section by recruiting proactively and the Cariboo Chilcotin Crime reduction unit, established in May 2017, is focusing on prolific offenders in line with enforcement strategies for high risk individuals that police say are responsible for a core group of crimes.

It is also every citizen’s responsibility to make Williams Lake a safer place to live. Improving the city’s safety is a team effort that needs to start with everyone involved. As we get to know our neighbors and police officers and discuss our concerns, the city will become not only safer but more enjoyable as well.

What would you do to protect and/or enhance the city’s air quality?

To protect and enhance the city’s air quality it will be important for the city to remain as a participant at the Williams Lake Air Quality Roundtable.

Comprised of members from industry, government and environmental organizations, the Williams Lake Air Quality Roundtable meets twice yearly to discuss, share, and advance air quality related issues in the local airshed. The goals of the WL Air Quality Roundtable, as reflected in the Airshed Management Plan, are to:

• ensure that identified contributing sources are using the best technology available to treat air emissions

• use Pollution Prevention Plans to systematically reduce point and fugitive sources of industrial pollution

• encourage dust control measures at strategic locations in the airshed

• facilitate better regulation of all types of burning

• suggest innovative approaches to reducing emissions from all types of motor vehicles

By being part of the roundtable and by working together as community partners, I will work to maintain and improve our air quality in the future.

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 wild life viewing area while giving residents more access to the lake?

In the September 2018 news release the city of Williams Lake announced it acquired the RC Cotton Waterfront lands for recreational trail and lake front access. The City is working with Nature Trust of BC and the Williams Lake Field Naturalists to explore opportunities for a pedestrian bridge connection to Scout Island that would incorporate the Nature Centre into the City’s River Valley network while not affecting the integrity of Scout Island Nature Centre.

It will be important to assess the implications of possible foot access between Scout Island and the R.C. Cotton site and, if necessary, develop mitigation measures to protect the values of the Nature Centre. The city will need to maintain the current width of the causeway road. To protect the environmentally sensitive riparian areas along Williams Lake and Williams Lake River, the City will require that all new development demonstrates riparian protection and restoration practices and innovation be integrated in to a Development Concept.

By working together on a development plan that would preserve scout island, residents will also be able to have more access to the lake.

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