CONTRIBUTION · 30th October 2014
01: Who are you? Tell the public a little about yourself?
Joanne Monaghan was born on a crop farm in Bird Island, Minnesota and immigrated to Smithers in 1967. In the late 50’s and 60’S she attended Northwestern College in Minnesota and the Denver Conservative Theological Seminary. She went on to study archaeology, and Radio and Television at the University of Texas at El Paso and earned a scholarship from the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem. She then headed to Israel for a year to study Biblical Archaeology and after that spent two years “on and off” doing archaeology
in Yucatan, Mexico. During her Seminary years she did volunteer work assignments with the Aboriginal People in Bella Bella, Klemtu, Kitkatla and Moricetown. She also worked for CN Rail as their first female Billing Agent when she moved to Kitimat and started and operated the Ye Wise Owl Shoppe in Kitimat for 37 years and still operates Peak Experiences Helicopter Adventures which she started in 1989.
02: What do you bring to the Council table?
Over 35 years of experience in politics. She has knowledge of working with Local Government and the procedures one must follow to create a community that can thrive. She also brings contacts at her fingertips, both from the Federal and Provincial Governments which help in having the ability to work through issues and the bureaucratic maze of Governments. Joanne brings an independent point of view. She has a Social Conscience and acts upon it. She believes in fairness and listens to all views. She understands City budgets, the tasks that each department in the District preforms and has a good understanding of Roberts Rules of Order.
03: What is your experience with local politics?
Joanne has been on Council for over 35 years, the last 6 as Kitimats first female Mayor. She was also the first woman President of the Yellowhead Highway Association, Winnipeg West, the first female President of the North Central Municipal Association (now known as the NCGLA), , first woman to hold 2 terms at the Union of B.C. Municipalities and also the 3rd woman President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 100 years. Joanne has been Chair of the Regional District Kitimat Stikine 8 years and Vice Chair for 9. Other committees she served on, the Museum Board, Kitimat Heritage Society, Canadian Heritage Canada Day Committee, British Columbia Heritage Trust, Northwest Community College Board, the Provincial Tourism Council, The Provincial Transportation Committee, Presently is a member of the Northern Development Initiative, and Chairs the University of Northern B.C. Advisory Committee. She also has International Experience which helps in local issues. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) sent her to Ecuador on a “Municipal Government Technology Transfer between a community in Ecuador and Kitimat. She also facilitated workshops in “Women in Politics” in Johannesburg South Africa and Ghana in West Africa. Her ultimate civic service goal has been for the Recognition of Municipalities as an order of government and during her tenure as Pres. of UBCM she was able to negotiate and sign a Protocol Agreement with Provincial Government of British Columbia that recognized all municipal and regional governments as levels of government Provincial governments is now bound by protocol and municipal legislation to engage in consultations with municipalities and regional districts prior to considering legislation that will affect municipal and regional government. Municipalities are now AN ORDER OF GOVERNMANT .
04: What personal attribute best qualifies you for office and how will you apply it to your role in office?
Experience counts and Joanne has made many political allies which open doors for the benefit of the Community. These allies are only a phone call away.. She is tireless in her pursuit of projects which will be an asset to the citizens of Kitimat. These projects are ones that emerge from the desires of the community. Examples would be the changing of Highway 37 designation from “B” to “A” for better road clearing and maintenance, the procuring of a veterinarian, the establishment of a new animal shelter to name a few. These would not have been possible without the invaluable help of others in the community.
05: How would you improve relationships with Kitimat’s neighbours?
This is an ongoing process and since Joanne has been Mayor she has reached out the hand of friendship and will continue to do so. Trust and respect is earned over many years of doing it right. …. year after year. She feels that she and council have been on the right track and will continue to try and earn the trust it takes to work closer together. An example of success would be the cultural warming basketball tournament that the Village and Kitimat sponsor each year. This year the Council and Mayor was presented by Brent Robinson, from the Haisla Nation, a framed jersey celebrating the event which will be hung in our office with pride.
06: If you could bring one commercial business to Kitimat, which business would you bring and why?
After she has been in retail for 37 years and seeing the decline of stores to Terrace. She will work diligently to increase the variety of stores in the community. It must be remembered that our population must increase to support stand alone stores. She understands this but is still pursuing, along with the Ec. Dev. Officer, the Golden Arches and Workwear World. A Conference Centre would also increase the shopping volume in our community.
07: If you could do any one thing in your role on Council to make Kitimat more prosperous, what would that be?
Bringing in industries or businesses that would be value added in nature. They usually pay their employees well, but environmental standards would always have to be kept in mind. An example might be the refinery.
08: If you could do one thing in your role on Council to make Kitimat a better place, what would that be?
Kitimat must have salt water access for its citizens. The council and Mayor have been working diligently over the past few years and we hope that this will be achieved very soon. A small boat launch, a dock suitable for handicap access and a birding tower with a back up park with park benches, tables, etc.
One cannot ignore the fact that an answer to making Kitimat a better place to live is not just one thing. Salt water access is one but one cannot forget that the issue of affordable housing is very real and must be solved. Hopefully B.C. Housing will become involved in the very near future.
09: How would you define your leadership style and how does that style contribute to a more effective Council?
Joanne’s style is energetic and determined and she will try to help citizens when they find themselves less than happy with situations they are in whenever she can… Example….citizens of Kitimat talked often about going to Pr. George for an MRI and having to wait and wait to get an appointment. She realized Dr. Mills was working on a 24/7 clinic and it seemed like an MRI would be a good fit. Industries were also interested so that interest along with her working with the Pres. of Heli Jet had them looking at putting in a heli pad near the hospital. Of course B.C. Ambulance would have to be involved and with those components perhaps a small trauma centre could be established. Joanne brought together, players from Administration, the Airport Committee, Heli-jet, industries, someone who had worked for trauma centre establishment etc. to see if this might in any way be a reality. Joanne knows ideas like this take time, and council must be involved in many ways now that the idea is more than a vision but the pursuit is still on going and hopefully working together we will have success.
10: If there was something you could do to make Kitimat more environmentally friendly what would it be and why?
Recycling is one way to make our environment more friendly and Council and the Mayor have been looking at various avenues. Perhaps a new depot may have to be looked at? We are fortunate to be having environmental studies being done, such as the emissions study. I would encourage such monitoring studies.
11: In 15 words or less: What is the meaning of life?
Giving back to the less fortunate, what God has Blessed you with.