The Merritt Herald sent a short questionnaire to each of the candidates in the upcoming general election and will be publishing their answers on this website in the days leading up to the general vote on Nov. 15.

1. What would you do to stimulate Merritt’s economy?

In order to stimulate Merritt’s economy, we might have to take a much more proactive approach to bring employment to the city of Merritt. We are, after all, the hub of a major transportation network with an ample supply of working space and energy. This is what manufacturers need to produce various products that will be required for the future of British Columbia. When you look at the predictions for the next decade, huge projects are going to occur and somebody, somewhere, is going to benefit. Why not Merritt? Liquefied natural gas, Site C dam, the oil patch and pipelines, to name a few. Why can’t these projects be supplied in some part by setting up pre-fabrication shops right here? Open the door by pushing the provincial and federal governments for initiative funding, setting up the framework for a line of fabrication that might include piping, trailers for construction camps, warehousing of supplies for the big job sites. This is just one idea but there are many more options to look at. Looking at the big picture, we must do as the big boys do. Don’t just look at tomorrow, look and plan for the next decade or two. We should be going out of our way to let British Columbia, Canada and the world know that Merritt is open for business. If we have to, put big signs over the highways on the outside of the city saying Merritt IS OPEN. Prince George has already jumped on the band wagon by advertising their city and it made the news right away. This is the whole idea: get noticed!

2. What changes to health-care service in Merritt would you lobby the provincial government for?

Health care is a concern for all the residents of Merritt. I have been having many conversation with people who have been telling of situations that should not be happening to anybody: heart attack victims having to wait eight hours to be transported to Kelowna for treatment, infection cases refused at emergency and shuffled to home care. Women can get pregnant in Merritt but to actually have the baby, you have to go to Kelowna or Kamloops? The whole idea of getting your city to grow cannot happen unless we can provide real health care for the people of Merritt. We have been informed that if we can increase our population, funding will be made available for a real hospital. Does this not seem a little backward? Why would people want to move to a city where proper heath care is an hour away, providing the highway conditions are good? The Lower Mainland population is going to boom and the opportunity to attract more people to our city is stymied by the lack of a real hospital. Instead of asking the health minister to walk through our hospital, why don’t we tell both the federal and provincial governments to give us a real hospital? As I said before, we are the hub of the major highways in the Interior but our ambulances have to take accident victims to either Kamloops or Kelowna. Instead of paying to ship all the patients out of town, why not invest that money into our hospital?

3. What other priorities would you take into public office that you’d like Merritt voters to know about?

Lately, I have had a lot of complaints about how high our city taxes are. Seniors, disabled people and people on fixed incomes are especially hard hit. When a quarter of your income goes to city taxes, life is difficult. People have asked me why our taxes are so high and at the moment I cannot give them an answer. If I am elected, I will certainly be looking into property taxes. I am still of the opinion that watching our spending is a priority. Remember that without a city hall that is looking after financial affairs properly, providing proper health care, jobs for the future, a safe and secure community for the citizens, real growth for the city cannot happen.