City council candidate incumbent Sue Zacharias vowed Friday she wants to face the issues head on.
“There is lots of criticism out there,” Zacharias said. “I’m willing to discuss any issue on the table.”
For example, she said the city’s branding project was successful but the tagline — Republic of Life — was not.
“Through the project’s marketing research the city developed a new industrial tax exemption and we got new marketing materials and a new modern website.”
Zacharias described the hiring and subsequent firing of Don DeGagne as CAO in spring 2013, as the “unfortunate cost of doing business.”
“Even though the consequences have been uncomfortable and it has increased the city’s average legal costs, I stand beside our decision and am hoping for a fair outcome from the trial.”
In its last term, council has has approved road, water and sewer, and backyard bees and hens.
“Many people say we haven’t accomplished anything, but I would argue those types of projects, while not bright and shiny, are necessary to ensure basic infrastructure is maintained.”
And while the Toop Road intersection upgrade project has been controversial, the fact the city might have to spend $2 to $3 million toward a $23 million project is a boon and will bring in many local jobs and spinoff jobs, she insisted.
Looking back to the Truth and Reconciliation hearings and events in 2013, Zacharias said it’s been important to learn about past traumas and history because it helps create a city that can really work together.
Cognizant of the number of vacancies in the downtown core, she said that is consistent with other municipalities across Canada.
“Some are due to the financial downturn of 2008 to 2011, and more people are shopping online.”
However, one mall owner recently told her his facility is filled up.
“New business are coming in and more will,” she said.
Responding to criticisms of the city’s economic development department, Zacharias said many people compare it to Kamloops where there is a staff of five people.
“We have one person who has adopted as many best practices as possible for a city our size,” she said.
She said the city will continue to work with as many groups as possible to have productive partnerships.
“Can you imagine what could be accomplished if we spent six hours a month with the chamber, tourism and downtown business association?”