CONTRIBUTION · 12th November 2011
As a manager, I find the greatest skill I can use is my ability to listen. For the past few weeks, I have asked our community where we would like to see Kitimat in ten years. There are reoccurring concerns in all the feedback I have received. These commonalities are: diversification for our economy, increase in employment opportunities, effectively organizing the community and honest leadership. If elected to council, it is my vision to approach these issues along with the many others during the 3 year term and find a resolution, so that they alleviate many of the worries we have in our town. The following are some elements which I wish to address if elected to Council:
Economic Development: I strongly believe that economic development should be at armís length from government. The District should still have a department in this field but, as far as marketing our region to the world, we need a small association diversified with strong relations in International, First Nations and Canadian business etiquette. The role of Mayor and Council should be to support the start-up of such an association and co-operate with requests that would better our society. This model would allow for the association to apply for grants, bring in new talent, create strategic alliances with the University of Northern British Columbia and overall, make our community more attractive to foreign investment. In addition, this would help with confidentiality; the political risk that many investors fear from Kitimat.
Social Concerns: Community Foundations have the ability to efficiently and effectively tie in the resources of non-profits, societies, associations, charities and special interest groups. It is imperative that Mayor and Council become key supporters of the Kitimat Community Foundation (formerly Aluminum City Telethon). Laying the foundation for sustaining social support is the most effective way to organize our society of volunteers and those that care. As issues grow in magnitude, so should the support of municipal government. Their are community foundations in our province, in towns not much bigger then are own, that have support from government and industry and because of this support, they are able to have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual, sustaining basis through the organizational structure of a Foundation.
Council Meetings: Change is necessary for the community. This change is in Mayor and Councilís attitude and respect. Respect for our fellow man and for the processes and policies that guide municipal government. I believe that a democracy is challenged when citizens are unable to easily access council meetings due to location. The elderly and disabled must be given the opportunity to attend meetings, and be able to have their voices heard. This is possible through finding a location that is better suited to all citizens which would allow a fair opportunity to attend council.
Technology: Today technology is a strong element in societal growth. I would like to see Mayor and Council invest in the technology that our public work force are using on the job. To have a successful future, it is wise to invest in the tools that will help us get there. This would also allow for succession planning for those in our community who will be retiring. By investing in technology, We are able to maintain a strong focus on attracting and retaining skilled workers.
Skilled workers: In attracting and retaining skilled workers, there are two strategies I support.
First: an increased focus on our local community college and learning institutes. This focus must not only come from government but from industry. If we want locals to be hired, we need industries to invest in seminars and classes that would help potential candidates gain employment.
Second: As a graduate from UNBC, I would like to create an alliance in attracting graduates from the north by using my network with the school of business and commerce alumni. This would increase opportunities for internships through the District, the proposed Economic Development Association and by creating incentives for local business to bring in UNBC students.
I Joshua Callahan am a Rotarian, a Director of the Kitimat Community Foundation, A Bank Manager and a member of this community. I have worked overseas, in union and non-union pulp & paper/forestry operations. I bring a balance of business and social science to the table. I am respectful, honest and optimistic. I want to serve our community and set it up for success.
We have waited too long, acted too late, and it is time we come to the table prepared, in good faith and work towards a better future for Kitimat!