Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Daily had questions; the candidates for mayor had answers… (Part two)

With less than a day to go for the Prince Rupert Municipal election, the Daily News finished off its two part question and answer feature on the mayoralty, completing their examination of the issues that they believe are key to this election.

We pick up the election trail with both Don Scott and Jack Mussallem finishing off their civics exam with the final four questions.

Meet the Mayor
Don Scott, Jack MussallemQuestions and Answers
The Daily News
Friday November 14, 2008
Page 19

Question 1

Would you push for more housing for our senior?

Jack Mussallem --Yes, hopefully these will be federal and provincial government programs that seniors groups through a seniors society could get involved in. there is land available close to the downtown area with a harbour view. Years ago, when employed by the city I worked on a senior’s housing proposal. Unfortunately, though there was some interest, there was not the demand. Currently, there is some potential vacant multi-family, residential buildings in the community. Perhaps one could be converted for senior housing program criteria. Perhaps a consideration should be the current Acropolis Manor, if it could be renovated when it is vacated.

Don Scott -- I consider seniors to be a valuable segment of our community, and it is our responsibility to ensure we provide quality services to them. Aside from our new Prince Rupert Complex Care facility, which is under construction on the hospital site, I am not aware of any affordable housing initiatives for seniors that are under way in the city. If not already available, a needs assessment should be prepared as soon as possible, which would provide the basis for addressing such an important issue. This will be another very important subject to be included in a Social Issues Forum: Prince Rupert’s Needs for Assisted Living.

Question 2

How will you build a relationship with Tsimshian and other First Nation communities in Prince Rupert?

Jack Mussallem -- I believe the city has a good relationship with many of its aboriginal residents. We are the host city of the All Native Basketball Tournament, which is the largest single annual event in the City. For that and to the organizers and participants, we should say thank you many times over. That event does a lot for our city and will continue to. The city could also acknowledge the world-renowned Aboriginal carvers who have, and still do call Prince Rupert home. Further, I would look for opportunities to partner on various initiatives. Perhaps a joint park venture, perhaps a local aboriginal fishery with processing, and shipping from Prince Rupert. Or a hiking trail network on city and aboriginal lands. Maybe there are opportunities through the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District. Portions of our harbour foreshore are owned by Aboriginal entities and could be utilized as joint ventures, perhaps a marina with second boat launch.

Don Scott -- It is my hope that the city has a positive relationship with Tsimshian and other First Nations communities; however, I am of the complexities of historical and current issues faced by First Nations peoples. Prince Rupert is a gathering place for many things such as the All Native Basketball Tournament and other social, cultural and political gatherings. I am confident that I can work in partnership with First Nations leaders. I served as co-chair of the North Coast Land and Resource Management Plan, which included all of the First Nations at the negotiating table, and the outcome was a successful consensus within the mandated timeline of two years. If elected, I look forward to sitting at a common table with Tsimshian and other First Nations community leaders, hereditary and elected, to discuss how we can work toward a sustainable future for the North Coast. We are all in this together, and we all want prosperity for our children. That is the common bond that we share.

Question 3

What is the future for Watson Island?

Jack Mussallem -- I would consider leasing out the dock and adjacent land to facilitate a Canadian Forces patrol vessel operation on the North Coast; invite small and medium sized businesses to lease the pulp warehouse or portions thereof for their business operations; invited proposals to produce hydro power from the waterlines from Taylor Lake to Watson Island. This activity is feasible, and could provide jobs and revenue with sales of the power. I would invited proposals to use the estimated 10 years supply of hog fuel, utilizing the power house and producing electricity for sale through this wood fired co-generation facility, consider use of the efficient facilities to handle the liquid waste from the municipalities of Port Edward and Prince Rupert; lease vacant land for railway track sidings and possibly container loading/unloading opportunities; consider the value of scrap metal verses the cost of dismantling the pulp facilities, if pulping opportunities no longer exist; or offer the whole Island, or subdivided portions for sale.

Don Scott -- Nobody can predict the future. What I would hope to do is review options that the city might consider. For example, one might be to develop an industrial park In place of the mill, with areas for lease for businesses that compliment our New World Port. We all want positive solutions that meet the city’s best interests. The pulp mill crisis was a very important issue during my term as mayor from 1999 to 2002. I am confident that I have the background and professional skills to deal with Watson Island’s future if I am elected Mayor.

Question 4.

Prince Rupert doesn’t have a homeless shelter or a drug addiction treatment centre. Should we have them and what would you do about it?

Jack Mussallem -- We must lobby for both, although you may find addiction facilities will only be available on a regional basis. These entities are the responsibility of other levels of government. City council must do what it can to encourage care for these citizens. We must let it be known there is a need and encourage an independent determination of that. After that determination has been substantiated, we must pursue such facilities. There are various multi-family residential facilities that may possibly be utilized.

Don Scott -- Prince Rupert has had inadequate facilities to assist the homeless for several years. There is a steering committee representing community stakeholders that is doing very good work, and it is my hope that a breakthrough will come sooner rather than later. I personally attended meetings regarding homelessness over the past two years. Right now, the current emergency shelter is a contract situation with some rooms at Raffles Inn being managed by the Salvation Army. The North Coast Transition Society also runs a home for women who require temporary shelter. Prince Rupert has a critical need for a new facility, one which includes supportive housing as well as temporary shelter, and which provides access to services such as mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, life skills, advocacy and employment counseling. In connection with a treatment centre, we are all too aware of addiction issues in our community. At this time, several agencies provide mental health and addiction services. Further work is required.

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