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October 28, 2017 1:29 am

Council ‘Rookies’ Review Their First Year

Thursday, November 19, 2015 @ 4:00 AM


l-r Councillors Terri McConnachie, Jillian Merrick  and Susan Scott – images courtesy  City of Prince George.

Prince George, B.C.- It has been a year  since  a new Mayor and Council  were elected in Prince George.  There are three who  are new to the realm of municipal politics, Susan Scott,  Terri McConnachie and Jillian Merrick.

Each of the  three new members to Council say they expected there would be a learning curve, but there  were surprises.  “The learning curve is perhaps steeper than I had anticipated” says Councillor  Terri McConnachie,  “The responsibility  can be daunting but the learning opportunities are  amazing.”

Councillor Jillian Merrick  says the time commitment  was no surprise,  “but the emotional energy required is far more than I expected.  When you make yourself open to the community you make yourself open to the emotions people feel.”

As for Councillor Susan Scott,   she says she  expected a learning curve for procedure and processes “What I did not expect is the extent to which  each Council member and City Staff would contribute to my  greater understanding and effectiveness.”

Both  Scott and McConnachie say  there is a challenge to balancing  home and family life with their Council commitments.  Both women   have  family,  other jobs and  community involvement “It’s a pretty full dance card” says McConnachie, “so finding down time and striking a balance is top of mind.”

When asked  what they saw as their biggest challenge  in this first  year, Councillor Terri McConnachie says it  was the re-naming of Fort George Park “I wasn’t prepared for the volume of the resulting  community conversation and although I stand by my decision as an individual and as a council, I wish it could have rolled out differently.”

For Councillor Jillian Merrick  the biggest challenge has been  “Reconciling my own personal values with the diverse values of the community.”   She says  the most difficult part of her  role as Councillor  is “Drilling  down on specific issues.   To be really effective, you have to focus your mandate, but the constituency expects  you to be well versed in all issues and put energy  into  all issues and there is strength in diversity.  There’s a big trade off between being strategic and being all- encompassing.”

McConnachie and Merrick  both  point to infrastructure improvements as  major accomplishments in this first year, with  Merrick  most proud of  the  transportation issues such as improved sidewalks, bike lanes and   transit  “My participation in the City’s Accessibility Committee has been very fulfilling”   adds Merrick.

Councillors Scott and McConnachie also count  people connections among the good  work of the  first year.  Both cite  increasing  the morale of City workers.  “I believe that any employee will achieve peak performance if they feel valued in their workplace” says Scott.  McConnachie  echoes that  sentiment, and  takes it one step further in  noting  efforts to build  positive relationships with the community, senior levels of government  and  economic sectors  as positive  accomplishments during this first year.

There  are another three years of  Council work ahead of the three,  and each  has  an idea of what they might  adjust  for the balance of this term.  Merrick says she  would like to “dig deeper into policy research” saying   “Prince George is no one thing, and our policies must address the diversity of the community.”

Scott would like to  continue  with  making more personal connections “More  small group and 1 to 1  contact with people to not only hear  the  concerns and ideas, but to know people better in order to  be a more effective voice.”

As for McConnachie,  “Some advice from a person I looked up to said ‘McConnachie, at all times, shoot for fairness, don’t try to be something  you aren’t, don’t BS people  and  you will do fine’.  I think I will stick to that.”

The three ‘rookies’  have been a real plus to Council says Councillor Brian Skakun “The new dynamic and creativity and energy they  have brought to this group is incredible and that’s a big part of why we’re successful.”

Let’s not forget this has been the first year in the Mayor’s Chair for Lyn Hall.  He is no stranger to  politics,  with a previous term  on Council, and numerous years with the  Board of Trustees for SD57. In reflecting on this  first year , Mayor Hall said simply, “I think we’ve turned many corners, many positive corners as a  group and as an organization.”


Personal agenda over shadowed Merrick..bike lanes…

The others are being intelligent and learning what being on council encompasses.

Good luck on the upcoming year, ever forward.

Overshadowed? A councillor needs to have a vision for the community and go for it. Otherwise nothing gets done and we have same-old same-old year after year. We need to elect more people who are go getters into council, the lawyer was an excellent example of how not to be on council. Sure they will make the odd mistake, but so will the others. We need to grow as a community not just sit still and stay the old boys club we used to be.

Do you notice any time something happens in this city that affects council there are only two elected members they interview? Sitting back and watching the years go by is no way for our elected members to be, that is the job for employees. I for one expect the elected people in city hall to be proactive and get out there and work to make PG a place to want to be. It is great that she made the comment of how the people of this city affect her emotionally, THAT is what we have been missing on council. We do not need more of robots on council, we have enough of those.

I think PG has become accustom to lower expectations from our council, especially when it comes to an economic vision and a follow through plan. Its all about special interests and back room deals; the renaming of the park being a prime example.

PG is like the pipe-dream capital of Canada for failed or stalled projects over the last three decades. Palopu could probably give us a pretty good list.

What bugs me is how deft all our local politicians are. Especially the great energy economy guy in Zimmer, or so he must be for the Peace region to keep voting for him.

Trudeau this week handed PG a $100 billion dollar economic potential and yet no one blinked an eye, all were its a glass half empty… not a bright bulb in the bunch.

Trudeau banned tankers off the North West coast that carry oil sands bitumen. He did not say that this was a bank on LNG tankers, or exports of refined products. Clearly its a nod to the Mr Blacks of this world that want to build a $25 billion dollar oil refinery in BC, and then export a much safer product.

We know that as big an issue as tankers in Hectic Straight were, so to is the danger to BC’s salmon bearing river systems.

We know that to meet Trudeau’s tanker ban on unrefined oil and Christy Clark’s five demands… and a few more demands, one could envision a new refinery in BC as part of an export plan.

Clearly the biggest hurdle should be getting a pipeline over the Fraser river basin… or the Skeena for that matter. I oppose this ever happening and I’m sure most of the population of BC does as well.

But what of the continental divide being only at Summit Lake 50km from PG. North of 30km out from PG all the water flows 3500km north to the Mackenzie and Arctic oceans. No big threat to the salmon bearing streams and river systems of BC. Yet close enough to a major urban and supply center like PG, and all the electrical and rail infrastructure in place.

I think the country and region could be sold on a refining industry north of PG, north of the continental divide in the Bear Lake to Mackenzie Junction area, as a major petro chemicals zone similar to these free trade zones we hear of, but open to major industry with potential for air pollution, far removed from population centers and located where it could do the least harm to the environment and especially the water supply of the province.

From a petro chemical and refinery zone in the Bear Lake area it could be shipped by rail with a short rail connector via Fort St James to Fraser Lake and bi-pass downtown PG. Bear Lake would be 1000km closer to port than any refinery in Alberta and Alberta would then have its path to the Pacific market without violating the tanker ban by Trudeau.

We know we have a tanker ban on the coast.
We know there is not public support for bitumen pipeline over salmon bearing watersheds.
We know that PG is strategically located to take advantage of both of these facts. Where is the vision?

There are federal responsibilities and powers, there are the provincial ones. Then, there are the municipal ones. I want mayor and council to fully dedicate themselves to the mandate of running the city efficiently.

That includes letting the other two levels of government know what is needed to keep what we already have in the best shape possible and approach them continuously with a list of concerns that we need financial and other help with.

In other words, I want mayor and council to be primarily and intensely focussed on the running of the City.

So far, not too bad.

I think Merick has done a great job first year. She campaigned on teh issues important to her (eg. transit and bike lanes) and has done what a good ocuncilor does to work on those issues while also dealing with the other council business as it comes up.

haven’t heard much of anything from the other two. They need to step up their game and participate more.

Oh yay, we have bike lanes now for the three bikers that actually follow the rules. Now if we can just ban parking on Victoria Street between First Avenue and 15th avenue that would be great. It is stupid to have parking on a highway.

Merick got voted in b/c peple liked her platform (which she was very open about). Don’t like her, run against her next time or campaign for the others to win over her.

She’s probably the most open and honest councilor there is and is far more involved in community events. i for one hope she does run again and I hope she wins.

Mc knows BS…….

Just remember we voted people out, because we got fed up with the bs, higher taxes, stupid bylaws, wasting our money. It can happen again.
Lots of us think there should be no hunting in city limits with a bow.

Posted on Thursday, November 19, 2015 @ 11:36 AM by doneright with a score of 1

Lots of us think there should be no hunting in city limits with a bow.


I can’t think of the last time someone was injured or killed by an arrow from someone hunting within city limits. Perhaps we should ban cars since a lot of people do get injured and killed within city limits by them.

This whole bow thing in the city is just more grand standing by Skakun. I guess he was feeling left out since he hasn’t been in the headline for a while.

Exactly Axman.. Skakuns scrapbook of himself hadnt had any new material lately so he had to take a stand on something silly.

If we have hunting in city limits barking dogs should be fair game.

Eagleone and a few others.. keep it on topic please! Although I do like you take on the tanker ban issue, free for all friday is tomorrow.

So, rookie councillors… Jillian Merrick (however one may view her crusade) has stuck to her agenda and put some serious effort into seeing results. It is nice to see. I hope she is as tenacious and vocal with other issues in the future. I wish all the council were as passionate about being heard and seeing results.

watchdog, in my opinion, if we have learned anything over the past year, it’s that Jillian certainly likes to see herself on the television! Can hardly turn it on without seeing her! During the election campaign, I guess that I never realized that she might be a bit narcissistic! She’s got her work cut out to catch up to Murray though, haha!

And RATS….should be fair game …..

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