Dear Potential Councilor,
The community over at Pinawa Outpost Facebook Group is excited for the 2021 by-election for councilor of the LGD of Pinawa. We would love to be able to ask you questions and hear you speak at an all candidates night, however with the pandemic that will not be possible. Therefore we have taken it upon ourselves to create a list of questions that we hope you would be willing to answer for us.
By replying to this message you are giving permission to publicly publish your responses. Your responses will be kept intact and will not be altered, only formatted together into a cohesive document.
Please submit your responses by April 30th. We look forward to hearing from you!
Question 1 (submitted by Denis Sabourin)
Are any of the Candidates bound by Non Disclosure Agreements with either CNL or AECL, and if so how will that effect their role in negotiations with those parties as a Councilor.
I am not bound by any Non-Disclosure Agreements with either CNL or AECL.
Question 2 (submitted by Sylvie Labossière)
Are any of our candidates familiar with the participatory budgeting process? What are their thoughts on this approach? Do they see ways in which this process could benefit a community such as ours?
Thank you for taking the time to write. I am always searching for the newest ideas and best practices for local government. This is essentially the heart of my platform; Innovation. As you can tell, I put a lot of time into the proposals in my blog and I actively engage with commenters. My intention is to always look at the best examples in the world of other cities and towns that are having success, analyze what they are doing right, and determine if that could be feasibly adapted here. I’m interested in any idea that could improve the democratic function of our community.
To be honest, I don’t know much about participatory budgeting process; but it sounds like an interesting concept. Participation is a critical component of democracy. If you think that your idea might be something that could improve the town, give me a call. Make the pitch! I will listen. Maybe participatory budgeting process could work here in some way. We won’t know until we look at it in detail. I will tell you though that as your representative, I am always open to hearing people’s thoughts on positive solutions that could improve things in our town, and will be willing to assist you to build your idea from a concept into a potential reality. This is one way that I will help you, and others participate in the shaping of our shared community.
Question 3 (submitted by Jeff Miller)
What is the biggest issue to be addressed right now, and what is the biggest issue on the horizon to be dealt with?
Bill 64. The current plan as it stands is a bad deal for Pinawa. I participated in the virtual townhall and have reviewed the WSD letter sent to the Minister of Education. After having found out that the Minister of Education has not responded to the grievances laid out very well by our School Trustees in a letter addressed to the Minister, I reached out to the NDP Critic for Education, Nello Altomare. We spoke today and I explained our position and the Master Agreement funding arrangement with the division. I am happy to report that this issue will now be raised by the Opposition when the Government submits its Estimates for Bill 71 Education Property Tax Reduction Act to the House on May 10th. I will do everything in my power to protect Pinawa’s Schools.
Tourism Management Plan. This research project will be conducted this summer and will inform Pinawa’s tourism strategy going forward. This is an extremely important file as it will define the vision for what Pinawa will look like in the future. This is why I am campaigning so hard in this election. I do not want to see Pinawa become Wisconsin Dells. I have a vision for tourism based on education, science, and conservation where the identity of Pinawa is enhanced and celebrated. For more information on this, make sure to read my other articles as almost every one of them relates back to this file in some way. This is the biggest issue on the horizon as it affects so many aspects of Pinawa including…
the SMR. Being able to attract a world class tech company in a very niche, high demand industry, at a time when Governments are investing trillions of dollars in non-carbon emitting infrastructure is an enviable position to be in. This is an important project for Pinawa and I intend to find ways to make Pinawa the most attractive site for Starcore demonstration project, and to leverage the marketing potential of this to attract other complimentary enterprises. (There will be a dedicated post to this project coming out this weekend so stay tuned for that. Sign up for my email list if you haven’t already and it will go to your inbox when it comes out).
Parks, recreation, and infrastructure. One of Pinawa’s greatest assets is its natural areas. These provide animal habitat, recreation and wellness opportunities for people, support active transportation which can help achieve carbon targets, and provide an economic benefit. These areas would be a prime target for further investment. The most livable cities in the world place a high priority on parks and outdoor spaces, and I believe that this is the right move for Pinawa today as it will pay big dividends down the road.
Question 4 (submitted by Alexandra Elizabeth)
What is your plan to address and reduce local crime?
Thanks Alexandra for your question. Public safety is an important issue to me, and I recognize that it is important to you. I know that you are a parent. My kids are 6 and 4 and we all want our children to be safe in the community. There are some behaviours that I am witnessing that are concerning to me. I’ve seen ATVs driving through school grounds. My son was bit by an off leash dog. People driving too fast on the streets, or driving while intoxicated. And we all know, that these unsafe behaviours are not exclusively perpetrated by outsiders! We all have a role to play when it comes to the safety of our community.
You must understand that the municipal government only has so much influence when it comes to policing. That is the jurisdiction of the RCMP. As councillor, in this regard, I can promise you that I will do my best, within my power, to make sure that Pinawa is receiving fair and adequate protection from the police services. I am going to push for more roadside checks during the summer to crack down on intoxicated drivers; that I will promise you.
We all have a role to play when it comes to public safety. When it comes to speeding, driving while intoxicated, locking your vehicle, texting behind the wheel, reporting suspicious activity; every single person reading this has the opportunity to make choices that will either enhance the safety of this community, or do the opposite. I challenge all of us, as Pinawanians, to make a habit of personal responsibility for the safety of others.
Question 5 (submitted by Ashley Miller)
Now that Pinawa is no longer associated with the WRRD (Winnipeg River Recreation District), what are your plans in making sure recreational activities such as soccer and t-ball are available to children of ALL ages in town?
Hi Ashley. Thanks for the question. I 100% agree with you, we need recreational activities in our town. Cameron would love to play soccer! I’m not sure what the council’s plan is currently to replace the disassociation with the WRRD. I would certainly be willing to take on that portfolio at the committee level to get this off the ground. Affordable access to a variety of recreational activities is very important to me. I will promote accessibility as much as possible as it is my belief that a child’s participation in extra-curricular activities should not be limited by their parent’s pocketbook. One of the biggest hurdles with these sports and activities, however, is finding volunteers to help run them. I’m willing to step up to the plate and take the lead on this, but only with a team of motivated people can we make an awesome recreation program for everyone in Pinawa! Not just the kids, but adults and seniors too because it’s been a hard year and we need some fun time too (following safety guidelines of course)! I am excited for the opportunity and I hope you are too.
Question 6 (submitted by Zane Grey)
Tourism is being pushed at significant cost to taxpayers with exponentially less income to the town coffers. Is any thought being given to recouping these losses? And has any consideration been given to those who do not appreciate the impact on the community – the crowded beach, trails and channel, and the significant increase in garbage?
Hey Zane. You’re asking if any consideration was given to those who do not appreciate tourism, you’ll have to ask the current council that, I can’t speak for them. I can only speak for myself, and I will tell you that yes, I do consider those who do not appreciate the impact on the community. Throughout this campaign I have been talking to people in the community and I hear a lot of flak about tourism/tourists. When I speak with them though, I find that what they are actually concerned about is not tourism per se, most of us recognize that diversifying the economy is a good thing, but people are concerned with what tourism in Pinawa will look like and the effect it would have. They are concerned that their community, our community, will lose what makes it special in order to make a buck. Is this a choice between preserving the identity of the town and economic growth?
What if I told you that we could have both?
There are different types of tourism my friend. I don’t want to see Pinawa turn into Wisconsin Dells. We don’t need to! There are a lot of places that already market to that demographic. When you’re marketing something, you want to stand out from the crowd. You know what type of place I like to visit on vacation? Pretty, quiet, little towns and neighbourhoods! I like parks, and nature, and educational activities, and bike riding trails, and community spaces and gardens. There is a whole market of people who like to do things like that, and they are underserved in Manitoba and their money spends just as good as anyone else’s.
The town currently is planning on charging $10 for parking for visitors at the end of 211 and the suspension bridge (possibly the launch as well). I’m sure you’ve seen how many cars are there. Maybe 200, 300+ on a busy day? You do the math! That’s basically what I pay in property tax in a year the town will generate in one day from parking. That’s a lot of cash! We could put that money to good use. I understand it’s annoying, I really do. As councillor I am going to do everything in my power to ameliorate the logistical issues. But unless somebody comes up with an easier way to make that money, we’re going to have to work with this. Given the choice, I’d rather charge the tourists than pay more on my property tax bill!
This just accounts for direct fees charged by the LGD for parking, and does not include dozens and dozens of people who are directly employed by the outfitters and operators.
This year, Pinawa is working on a tourism study in conjunction with researchers from the University of Manitoba. This study will analyze the community and there will be an opportunity for public feedback. The results of this study should be ready in Q4 and will then be used to inform council on its decisions going forward. I will tell you right now, we need someone at the table that has a vision that fits with the identity of this town. That’s why this by-election is so important. I work for VIA Rail Canada. I travel to cities and towns across Canada with tourists from all over the world, I understand this issue. My interest is in the long term sustainability of this beautiful town that I love and protecting that which makes it special.
To be perfectly clear. I am not anti-tourism. I am not anti-float or anti-water park. I believe that these projects can and do fit in with the Pinawa model, and in a few years we will come to accept them and hopefully embrace them. I am taking steps already through PCDC to encourage all of these companies to improve their business practices relating to conservation. That being said, I do think it’s time to switch gears. Pinawa needs a tourism plan that clearly defines where we want to go from here, and I do intend to promote a change in direction. A lot of the issues we are seeing in the past couple years are not tourist issues, but rather infrastructure, logistical, and organizational issues. As I’ve said in almost all of my posts, we need a streamlined system of revenue capture to provide a direct benefit to the people. I am a very systematic and meticulous person. And I am going to push council on this. I will be open about my work on this project, and I believe that people are truly going to get behind it.
I understand your concern. The last couple years have been interesting to say the least, we’re seeing changes and challenges, and the communication from council could certainly be improved. I am here to tell you that it can be different. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out. Thank you for your question.
Question 7 (submitted by Alexandra Elizabeth)
What is your stance on transparency with citizens regarding subjects such as proposed developments and household water quality?
My intention as councillor is to be as transparent as possible. I intend to hold my colleagues to account as well as openness is a critical element of democracy. My website will remain active the entire time I am councillor and I will post regularly if there is interesting stuff that I think the people might want to weigh in on. I did talk to the mayor on the phone after the last council meeting where the protestors showed up to the municipal building (I was at that meeting). During our call I mentioned to the Mayor that a lot of the protestors made it pretty clear they felt there was a lack of transparency in the process regarding the parking lot issue. While I appreciate that the councillors and mayor have their phone numbers available and the minutes are posted online, to be quite honest, they’re not always easy to read. It is necessary to use a lot of technical language and legalese in government documents, and that doesn’t make it very accessible to the average person. I asked about the feasibility of writing a document, in plain english, to summarize important issues from the council meeting to be more accessible to the average citizen. I am happy to say that if you go on to the Pinawa website you will see a new feature called council highlights which does exactly that!
While I can promise to be as transparent as possible, democratic participation is a two way street. Some people would say if you don’t vote you can’t complain. I say we need to take it a step further than that. We all need to put in effort to stay informed. I know it’s not always easy, or hasn’t been in the past. There is the quarterly newsletter, the council highlights, and my website. I promise to share everything that I can. Some things as councillor you just can’t because of non-disclosure or other reasons, but I will make sure that privilege is not abused. I have posted my whole platform online for you to see. Please read it. Please read the other candidates as well so that you can make an informed choice!
When it comes to proposed developments. There is a process that needs to be followed. There are zoning by-laws, development plans, secondary development plans, rfp’s, different regulations involving different levels of government. As councillor, I intend make sure the process is followed. Some things require public hearings, others don’t. I don’t think that we want to get in the habit of having a referendum on every project, but my intention is to keep people in the loop and listen to people’s concerns, to build trust in the government.
As for water quality, that’s maintained by public works and is, as you can imagine, a very regulated utility. As councillor, my expectation is simply that the department follows all regulations that are required of them. If you have any specific questions about that, you should contact the LGD office.
Thank you for your question!
Question 8 (submitted by Patty Drew)
I would like to know their opinions on how close to tourist capacity Pinawa is.
That’s an interesting question Patty. Before I could answer that, we would need to agree on a definition of what tourist capacity even is. My travels take me often through Jasper, Alberta. It’s a town of about 4000 people, a bit larger than Pinawa, but not by an order of magnitude. They welcome MILLIONS of tourists every year. You walk around the townsite, it’s nice! Downtown is busy when the train comes in of course, but they have trails in the woods behind the town just like us and I’ve hiked them, never had trouble with over crowding whatsoever. Now I recognize that some people would say that Pinawa is way over capacity already. It’s somewhat subjective and I am not advocating for millions of people to come here; just to illustrate that “capacity” is determined by a whole host of variables.
The most truthful answer anyone can give you is somewhere between: “it depends” and, “we don’t know”. That’s the truth! We don’t know because we don’t have good data. Our issue now is not so much about capacity as it is about logistical organization. Pinawa has been working on an ad-hoc basis and been forced to be reactionary. To be fair to our current council, there were issues such as non-ownership of the 211 highway and the unexpected mass increase of local Manitoba tourism due to Covid-19 that made the management of the situation pretty challenging, and quite honestly, I think they did a decent job all things considered. I do believe that my degree in politics and my decade of work aboard a Transcontinental Heritage Sleeper Train would be helpful in this regard.
That being said, this is an important by-election because this year we will actually beginning to do a proper study on tourism in the community, with the help of researchers from the University of Manitoba. This report will be completed in Q4 and will inform the decisions of council regarding tourism for the next 5, 10 years or longer. I am an analytical and methodical person and I want this done right. I want the data. In terms of importance for the community, this is the most important project in a generation. This project will literally lay the groundwork for the expansion and management of what will be a critical economic sector (second only to CNL, for now) that affects almost every aspect of our town, including the SMR (It’s a demonstration reactor). A lot of these decisions will have already been decided before the next general election in October 2022. That is why I am campaigning so hard in THIS election. We need a new voice in council, now. One that understands that we are at a juncture where in this next year and a half, we will be making a decision on the vision of Pinawa that we want going forward. Please, take a look at my website so you can learn about my vision for Pinawa, and if that inspires you, then make sure to make your voice heard loud and clear on May 5th.
Thank you for your question.
Question 9 (submitted by Janet Lamb)
Who will be responsible to enforce safety protocols ie. physical distancing, sanitizing equipment at beach park and water park, and controlling number of admissions to avoid over crowded channel float. ?
Physical distancing rules and limits on gathering size is an order of the Provincial Health Authority and enforcement is done by police and personnel authorized by the Provincial Government.
Maintenance of equipment at the beach is the responsibility of the LGD public works as it is town property.
The water park is a private business and must abide by regulations set out by the Provincial Health Authority.
Nobody controls the number of admissions to the Pinawa Channel as it is a public area and waterway. Some may believe that the float operators are charging admission but this is incorrect, they are providing the rental of a tube and transportation services.
I am glad that you are concerned about people following the covid-19 safety protocols! It’s important that we remain diligent. Pinawanians in general took this seriously and because of that we have been lucky to not experience a mass outbreak in our town which could have been catastrophic for our senior population. Something to keep in mind is that by the time the float is open for the Summer, the vaccination program should be very well established and restrictions may look quite a bit different than they do now. I for one am looking forward to that!
Thank you Janet for the question.
Question 10 (submitted by Steve Czarnecki)
With the upcoming waterpark concept it will undoubtably attract much larger crowds .was their any consideration to the need for the need of increaing sanitary facilities ? Increasing the numbers of porta pots would just be archaic as we have seen all too well the condition of how well this has worked at the main marina and other areas of town where these are located
.they are just discusting at times of heavy usage .I feel sorry for the people trying to enjoy a lunch at the picnic tables at the Burger boat when the stench wafts over them with wind gusts. The trash containers are always filled to the point of overflow and the porta pots located there are not oriented properly as the doors swing open into the staging lane where people are launching their boats. The fact that the trail exits there is .also a great safety issue that is never discussed
I have seen persons mostly women in need of having to use these porta pots open the door and back away and heard them say no way and comment how such a nice town be so inconsiderate or the lack of better facilities. This by no means is a way to promote tourism. What is needed first and foremost prior to creating all these attractions is to install the infrastructure prior to the added enticements. After all you do not build a Walmart or a Costco first and put in the water and sewer or parking layer. Do the planning first before sticking a shovel in the ground.
Hi Steve. Thanks for writing. There’s a lot to unpack here. I get the impression that you are concerned about the state of toilets in public areas. I hear you! I’ve gone in there before and sometimes they are nasty! If we as a town are going to put up public toilets, (which are necessary for health reasons, obviously), you’re 100% correct there needs to be a maintenance program in place! Whatever the plan was previously, clearly, it wasn’t good enough. We can improve on that.
Your question in the first paragraph “was their any consideration to the need for the need of increasing sanitary facilities ?” That’s a question for the current council as I wasn’t there. However, one thing that you will probably be happy to hear is that council has put out an RFP for development of a 4 season public toilet facility near the marina. This was discussed at the April council meeting which I attended. I support the construction of this as it will be good for warmer months as well as the ice fishermen and skating rink users in the Winter. This will improve the sanitation issues you are concerned about. Take care.
Question 11 (submitted by Libby Crust)
Tuesday evening Mayor Skinner announced plans for the proposed water park were still in the feasibility stage. A parking lot for this project still needs to be organized.
As this project (waterpark) for Pinawa is not a done deal where do you stand on this proposed project?
How would you vote – For or Against?
Hi Libby. Throughout my campaign I have said that my intention is to be able to explain my rationale for voting for something or not voting for it. It would be irresponsible of me to commit one way or the other to voting for or against anything without having seen the evidence! To do otherwise would be to abandon rational analysis and good governance in favour of populism and cheap political points. I will not do that.
I’m afraid that the information you have may not be entirely accurate. I was at that meeting on Tuesday, saw the protest, and called the mayor the next day. I did see a few weeks ago that the waterpark was going through it’s Federally Mandated Public Review from Transport Canada. From the information I have, Hoopla Island has fulfilled nearly all of their regulatory requirements and has a Memorandum of Understanding approved by council (I confirmed this Monday with the Mayor directly). The project effectively is a go, and there will be no further vote on this issue.
The parking lot project is not currently on the books and will not proceed this Summer. This will have to be revisited after the tourism review is completed and townwide parking planning solutions can be studied in full. More information on this the would then be available.
For more information on upcoming projects in your town, be sure to read the quarterly newsletter, check out Pinawa.com for the council highlights, and visit my website at michaelkingpinawa.ca.
Question 12 (submitted by Donna Warenko)
The image in my mind of a future Pinawa includes a downtown area, with a few small shops, a place for the art gallery downtown, a pub, coffee shop … Do we have any master plan for an expanded downtown area? Are we collecting data from our recent boom of tourism that we could use to attract developers to build and entrepreneurs to open shop in the core area around the mall and marina? Is this something a new candidate might find useful?
Hi Donna. The image you describe sounds amazing! It reminds me of Deep Cove, BC. You might be interested to know that the LGD has put out a request for proposal for the development of Mitchener Road between Vanier, Bessburough, and Burrows. This development will be the prime piece for Downtown development in Pinawa. If elected, I would be reviewing this RFP along with the rest of council, should any proposals be received (as of the last PCDC meeting, there were no applicants).
You ask about development plans for Pinawa, yes, there are some plans. Most notably would be the Pinawa Primary Plan and the Secondary Plan. I was at the open house a couple years ago for the development of the Secondary Plan, and it’s a good tool. In 2021 Pinawa will be conducting its tourism study in conjunction with researchers from the University of Manitoba. This document will also inform the development plans of the downtown area.
I want to stress something. The development of Michener road is a critical, cornerstone project for the community. We do not want to get this wrong and end up with a lacklustre development. For all the amazing qualities that Pinawa has, there have been some missed opportunities, mostly due to the way that AECL divested themselves of property once upon a time. We cannot afford another one. Mitchener Road is one of the few prime locations where the LGD has the land rights to development. That means we have control. I can tell you that I will not accept any proposal but an amazing one.
I want our downtown to be beautiful. I envision a planned street that’s pedestrian and bicycle friendly, with cafés, patios, local shops, boutiques, parks, and galleries in mixed commercial/residential buildings. I see hanging flowers and ornamental street lamps, bicycles and street vendors, kids buying snacks, young couples out on a date, seniors hand in hand in the park. I will not accept anything less than a stunning, modern, inspiring urban design that we can all enjoy and be proud of. That’s what I see. That’s the vision I intend to bring to the council chambers of Pinawa.
Thank you for your writing and passion for the community.
Thanks to everyone for your questions and participation.
Exercise your right to vote on May 5th!