I had a request from a local union to answer some questions. I have included them below as there was some great questions that I thought others would be interested in, too.
1- How long have you lived in the community? Share your accomplishments with us.
I moved here on a beautiful blue sky sunny day with my wife Karen. We fell in love with the town and area the first time we came up from Vancouver to check out the town.
We loved the beauty of the area, the amazing hiking trails, great canoeing and the friendly people.
I worked at the Coast Hotel (Town Centre now) for 2 years.
Then I worked for Malaspina University College for 3 years as the restaurant supervisor (at Brooks School). I was given that job because I had spent the previous 15 or so years working at many other hotels in catering/banquets departments. There I transformed the restaurant into a booked-solid restaurant where the students could rely on a steady stream of guests to learn their cooking skills with. We also had the school cafeteria on a daily basis for the students and staff. In addition to that we also did special functions such as lobster dinner for Valentine’s Day, Christmas dinner, private parties for school and College, Oyster Festivals for 500 people and we also catered school graduation. It was an amazing experience to work with so many fantastic students and staff. I loved working at there.
After that I opened our own restaurant in thd Old Courthouse in Townsite where we also did catering. We tried to make the restaurant a place where people could go for special occasions when they wanted a fine dining experience. It was a small restaurant and in the end it was too small to make enough money to keep the lights on. The catering end of things did fairly well so my wife and I continued part-time on for another 3 years or so catering some weddings and private parties for groups up to approximately 150 guests.
When I closed the restaurant I started my present business, Robin’s Home & Yard Care Service, doing lawn care, hedge trimming, gardening, landscaping, irrigation installation & maintenance, window cleaning, gutter cleaning, power washing, handyman services and house painting. I mainly paint and only a bit of gardening / yard maintenance now. I’ve been doing this biz for past 17 years now and will continue with it for many years.
Along the way I also learned to make websites and use other online platforms to promote businesses and organizations. One of my clients for that was PR Community Forest which I made a new website and looked after that part for a number of years. Unfortunately, technology changes so quickly and so much that I suggested that they find a new webmaster to help them as I didn’t have the time to give them the service they needed in regard to building their next website. The new person did a fantastic job of making them a new site. I still do a bit of website development but only for myself or for friends.
Around 2011 I went back to work at the University here in town in the office for a year part time.
As to Community service we are supporters of local SPCA and some other groups when needed.
I was Chair of Friends of the Film Society for a year back around 2008.
I was on the board of the Third Crossing Society for a while back around the time when the last government was doing a feasibility study about putting a road through to Powell River.
Through all of these adventures I’ve met some amazing people and look forward to many more years here in town.
2- Have you ever been a candidate or have been an elected official in the past? Where? How long?
3- What boards or community organization have you been involved with?
I was Chair of Friends of the Film Society for a year back around 2008.
I was on the board of the Third Crossing Society for a while back around the time when the last government was doing a feasibility about putting a road through to Powell River.
4- Are you (or have you been) a member of a Trade Union? Which one? What position did you hold?
Local 40 – Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, CAW – hotel division, CUPE at Malaspina College & VIU.
Member only at all.
5- What attributes would you bring to the position you are running for?
Honesty, listening to everyone, fairness, courage to ask questions & make decisions and ability to stand up for what is right and true.
6- How would those attributes positively affect the lives of working people in our community?
Their tax dollars would be watched carefully, their concerns would be listened to, each person would be treated fairly & equally. Strong support⅔ for police to keep our community safe.
7- What do you believe are the critical issues facing our community?
High taxes, uncertainty of future of mill (which affects quality of life for residents and the amount of taxes coming into community for services), crime and drug problems, expanding communication with residents and bringing people together to heal the divisions that have occurred these past few years.
8- Do you think public infrastructure is best owned and operated by the private or public sector?
Public sector owned for most things but it is prudent to look at alternatives, too. For example, the sewage plant is going to end up costing many millions of dollars more than originally talked about. There was the opportunity to possibly use mill system for our sewage but it was squashed before a feasibility study could be done and agreements talked about. Now we have a system coming online which may be $80 to $90 million when completed. That’s expensive and will cost us all a significant amount in taxes. Great system but expensive. There has to be a cost / benefit analysis and alternatives considered.
9- Do you support the use of public employees to perform public work?
Yes, in most cases.
10- What do you think about the contracting out of public services? Why?
For maintenance type work like trades, lawncare, landscaping I think looking at local private businesses / contractors is worth considering if they can do the job as good as or better for a cheaper price. There has to be a cost / benefit analysis.
Taxes are a huge concern for many residents.
I do not support contracting out to foreign mega corporations with no ties to the town. For example, the hospitals contracting out to companies like Sodexho for food service and cleaning for many years did not save any money and was questionable as to actual service provided. That was wrong.
11- What are your feelings on public-run solid waste handling and recycling?
I prefer Public run but if a local private company can do the job as good as or better for cheaper then it is worth looking at. There has to be a cost / benefit analysis.
12- What do you think about the use of Public Private Partnerships in your community?
I prefer Public but it is worth looking at PPP’s as they come up as long as it is a local company. I do not support foreign mega corporations controlling our lives. There has to be a cost / benefit analysis.
13- What do you think can be done to provide better access to affordable housing in our community?
Look at starting a housing authority through the City, lobby federal and provincial governments to provide money for housing, encourage the creation of housing co-ops, bring Habitat For Humanity to town, expand carriage house development. I support affordable housing for working class people. I do not support more supportive housing if they are not strictly managed and controlled. The safety and enjoyment of our neighbourhoods should be of utmost importance.
14- How will you ensure that all voices in our community are heard and that decisions made are inclusive of the needs and accessible for everyone?
I will listen to all who want to talk. I will promote free speech and not stop anyone who wants to talk and ask questions at Council Chambers.
As to the last part of question that is a little hard and unrealistic to accomplish all of the time. I will consider all concerns and needs of everyone, of course. However, some things can’t be accessible for all people all of the time. For example, the ramp going down to the dock for boats, it is steep and when the tide is low the ramp is really steep which makes it difficult to get up and down. There’s not much we can do about that. Or, Willingdon Beach Trail or Seawalk. Both are gravel or dirt. Rain, wind, mud and wear & tear happens. How can they be made wheelchair accessible all of the time? We can try but nature will have other plans some times.
15- Do you support the principle of free collective bargaining?
16- Do you support the principle of equal pay for equal work?
17- What will you do to ensure our public library gets the necessary funding for the services it provides?
I love the library and want it to have as much money as it needs but the word “needs” means different amounts to different people. I will listen to the recommendations of head librarian, library board and the public to make my decisions.
18- Will you support conducting a 360 review of public administrators at the City, Library and RD?
What exactly do you mean by 360 review?
I support annual reviews for all employees and administrators.
19- Do you support and agree to ongoing discussion with CUPE Local 798?
20- Will you communicate important issues to CUPE Local 798 as they arise?
I will communicate with all residents and organizations as much as I can. I hope to have the City start a monthly newsletter to be sent out either by email (or by Post for those without email).
I also really like the idea of a monthly coffee chat that I’ve heard Ron Woznow talk about with whoever wants to attend and talk about anything to do with City.
Having said that, a newsletter can only carry so much info. So, it is important for residents and organizations to get involved by going to meetings, reading agendas and minutes of meetings and asking questions.
If you ask a question I’ll answer if I can. I may have to go find answer and get back to you if I don’t know. Or, sometimes there are things discussed in private which can’t be disclosed but I hope there is as little of that as possible.