Core impact dominated 2013

Posted on Jan 2, 2014 in Media

If the core services review process was the benchmark for 2012 at city hall, then 2013 was dominated by the fallout.

The charge was led by brand new city manager Beth James, who joined the corporation at the beginning of May to replace Derek Bates after his October 2012 departure.

James was a local government neophyte but brought years of experience as a senior executive in provincial government and private sector management consultingto her new role as the city’s chief administrative officer.

James quickly began cleaning house and among the first things to get spruced up was the final core review report from consulting firm KPMG.

Though council had already begun the process of weeding through the ‘opportunities’ laid out by the consultants, staff were tasked with essentially rewriting it to turn it into a workable document, called the core services review implementation plan.

The 120-page tome presented business cases for a plethora of actions from the entirety of the KPMG report, whether they were part of the initial 40 forwarded to the core services review committee, as well as new ideas.

Sticker shock

Following the July 8 meeting to tweak and approve the plan, Prince George residents who may not have been following the process with a fine-tooth comb were caught off guard by some of council’s decisions. (more…)

Councillor makes case for tighter budget

Posted on Dec 18, 2013 in Media


taxSometimes it is required to set the record straight and speak up. I thank Ms. Serup for the good intention and praising me for holding the line on spending. Other comments got a bit distorted because she sent a fax to the paper and through the scanning and following printing process two sentences left a wrong perception.

The paper apologized, which is very much appreciated. For the record, I support a performance arts center. Financing however remains a problem and should not cause an increase in taxes. However, I believe there is a solution.

I support, and have initiated a motion, to limit any tax increase to the cost of living, which was 1.5 per cent last year. It would force administration to develop a tight budget which can be debated at budget deliberation. Balancing user fees is a tricky business and there is the danger that they may be too high for one application and too low for another. Communication with mayor and council is essential because feedback will help to point to wrong decisions.

I follow up with some general comments: we are all in this together. We all like Prince George and want to make it a better place than it is. It is not about one or two groups and it is not about the union, the employers, the businesses, organizations, churches, societies, etc. alone. It has to be a holistic approach when it comes to taxes and fees, etc. as city revenue. With the taxpayer as a shareholder of the city and city hall managing the investment, it is normal the shareholder wants the best bang for the buck. It means the shareholder, taxpayer, is expecting a lean (not mean), efficient and financially-prudent operation that can deliver services that are needed as a return of the investment.

Here it becomes difficult, finding the right equilibrium between taxes and services, as well as long-time investments, like capital projects, etc. Mayor and council, as the board of the operation, are setting the direction, approving the budget (or not) and setting the tax levy.

I believe we can budget tighter and can be even more efficient than we are. It is far too easy to go to the taxpayer, the investor, and ask, no, order, paying more taxes. Yes, everything costs more over time, but the cycle of high tax increases above the cost of living has to stop.

Albert Koehler

P.G. city councillor

Resolution on advanced education on technology and engineering

Posted on Sep 18, 2013 in Media, Videos

During the UBCM Conference today – A resolution on advanced education on technology and engineering was passed. CKPG’s news coverage is below:

Northern BC is forecasted to see tremendous growth over the next two decades, with major projects slated for the area. But some believe the lack of an Engineering program in the area could hamper those projects. Municipal officials have a very specific message for Victoria regarding the educational gap. And now, the City is using the Union of BC Municipalities convention to get some support.

Good news for the north

Posted on Sep 3, 2013 in Media


With great satisfaction I read the article of Ann English, the CEO of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. Finally our largest Technology Association is acknowledging that it is time to educate engineers in the North for the North for the benefit of all of B.C. The association of Technologists and Technicians of B.C. (ASTTBC) has supported the education of technologists in the North already earlier.

Yes, it is good news to have two Master of Engineering programs established in Prince George and so, will attract graduated engineers to our city. The Wood Innovation and Design Centre will house these programs and be an extension of UNBC. To feed the new programs and to satisfy the tremendous demand for technologists and engineers, the respective undergraduate programs have to be implemented locally. At the same time a technology program at the colleges should be reinstated.Roblox HackBigo Live Beans HackYUGIOH DUEL LINKS HACKPokemon Duel HackRoblox HackPixel Gun 3d HackGrowtopia HackClash Royale Hackmy cafe recipes stories hackMobile Legends HackMobile Strike Hack

There is tremendous interest in technology of students in our schools, and we have to provide the education that is in such a high demand. The gap between demand and supply is growing daily, while at the same time economic opportunities cannot be harvested due to the steadily increasing skills gap. I know, all of this is not new, but worthwhile to be pointed out over and over again.

The Northern Technology & Engineering Society of B.C. (NTES) – with now close to 250 members – has concluded a special educational and awareness program consisting of school visits in north central B.C. to educate teachers and more importantly students about the job opportunities in our northern economy, focusing on technology. A consultant had been hired and with the assistance of local engineers and technologists the school visits took place over a period of several months. One can consider this feeding the pump, because we all are expecting that the required educational programs will be implemented in the near future.

We seriously have to concentrate on diversification and innovation of our industry, although one can argue that the Prince George economy is fairly diversified. This, however, is certainly not the case in other and smaller communities of B.C. We have to be able to add more value to our resources and soften the economic up and down cycles.

Albert Koehler

President, Northern Technology & Engineering Society of B.C.

Undergraduate programs are next step: engineers

Posted on Jul 29, 2013 in Media

PUBLISHED IN PG CITIZEN ON JULY 29, 2013Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download


maxresdefaultUNBC still has more engineering work to do.

Those in the engineering field were not talking about new structures, they were referring to education programs that still should be added.

When university, government and private sector officials met at UNBC on Friday to announce two new wood-focused masters programs at the school, the name spoken most often as an advocate for the engineering expansion was Albert Koehler. An engineer and industrial product inventor himself, he has been lobbying for years, according to Prince George MLA Shirley Bond, the minister responsible for jobs and skills training.

“It’s the first time in Canada that a degree has this specialty,” said Bond. “It is essential, as we continue to use our revitalized wood sector, that we look at innovation and think differently about wood’s uses. I’m thankful I can look Albert in the eye, now, after seven or eight years [of his lobbying] and say yes, engineering is now underway at UNBC.”

Koehler said he “was not unsatisfied” but considered the two masters programs “an important step forward with a long ways to go, still,” for engineering at UNBC.

“It definitely brings the diversity and innovation agenda forward,” he said. “It adds imagination to our 2×4 and 4×8 and plywood thinking. But we need full civil and mechanical engineering programs at UNBC. The Canfors of the world are looking for those people and having trouble.”

Canfor’s engineering manager Olaf Starck agreed.

“The bottom line is, you can’t develop your resources without engineering,” Starck said. “We used to be able to call up Allnorth or one of the other regional companies, but there is so much demand on those companies that we have to go farther and farther away to find the expertise and then you run into people who don’t understand your region, the details of your local situation, or aren’t as responsive because their head office is far away.”

He agreed that undergraduate programs were the next step UNBC needed to really create a northern engineering culture and “underpin this important masters stream” announced Friday.

Shiloh Carlson also makes a case for a full engineering program at UNBC. Although her parents wanted her to attend UNBC and chose a different profession; she insisted on leaving Prince George because her mind was set on engineeringn. She was trained elsewhere and chose to return to her Prince George hometown, where she is now a geotechnical engineer with McElhanney see this here.

“I’m one of those who would have loved a local program. I didn’t want to leave but I had no choice,” she said. “I’m excited to see the wood innovation masters degrees, it’s a great step forward for UNBC, but I would hope to see an undergraduate program soon, as well.”

What’s missing, she said, is the commitment of the provincial government to invest in such programs in the north. She urged officials with the Ministry of Advanced Education to consider the alternative costs of having to import engineering expertise instead of honing area residents, and the cost of industrial slowdowns because the engineering talent wasn’t there when companies and levels of government needed them most.

Councillor recommends tax link

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 in Media
June 24, 2013Charelle EVELYN
Citizen staff


Even though budget deliberations have wrapped up for the year, tax increases will be back in front of council next month.

Coun. Albert Koehler has submitted a notice of motion recommending that when administration prepares the 2014 draft budget, they do so with the caveat that the general levy increase not exceed the level of inflation. The proposal will be discussed at an upcoming council meeting.

The consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of rising costs of goods that consumers and taxpayers understand, said Koehler.

“It would be nice if we could manage to hold the taxes on this [CPI] because we owe it to our taxpayers,” said Koehler. “The taxes are given to us in trust so that we manage them properly.”

Some Canadian communities measure their spending against a municipal price index, which takes into consideration expenses such as labour, asphalt and waste management that aren’t weighted in the average homeowner’s basket.

The city doesn’t have an MPI and a proposal from Maple Ridge to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to have the development of a provincial one incorporated into the work of the municipal auditor general last year wasn’t endorsed.

During February’s budget deliberations, Koehler attempted to bring forward a similar request to hold the general levy increase to two per cent instead of the approved 3.5 per cent, but was told it was too late in the process.

The increase to the city’s 2013 operating budget was only 0.65 per cent, but that was supplemented by a 1.85 per cent increase to the road rehabilitation levy and a one per cent increase to fund a new general infrastructure pot.

Discussions on the budget for the 2014 fiscal year will begin Nov. 27. Currently the CPI for 2013 is 1.5 per cent.

However Koehler said the CPI limit wouldn’t be set in stone. “In case there’s an emergency… that’s a different story. Then we have to sit down again and see how we manage,” he said.

Koehler said he believes the city owes it to the taxpayers to provide a level playing field and have all costs rise at the same rate.

“And we at city hall just have to be smart and work around it, be fiscally prudent,” he said. “That’s what I campaigned for one and half years ago and, by and large, so did other councillors, from what I remember. There were always those words going around: fiscal prudence and fiscal responsibility. And I would like to come up with that.”


Councillor wants more tech training

Posted on Jun 24, 2013 in Media
Here is a glimpse of an article that was recently in the Citizen regarding my attempts to get everything on the provincial level.
June 24, 2013
Charelle EVELYN
Citizen staff

Albert KoehlerCoun. Albert Koehler is hoping that when city representatives head down to the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in September, they’ll be going to support one of his ideas.

During tonight’s meeting, city council will vote on a recommendation from the intergovernmental resolutions committee to advance a request supporting new technology and engineering programs in post-secondary schools.

The proposed resolution, which would be debated at the UBCM annual meeting in Vancouver, would see the organization lobby the provincial government to “develop a strategy for technical and engineering education, allowing for a seamless transfer from colleges to universities” as well as provide funding to establish programs.

To read the full article, click here.

Koehler becomes a Canadian

Posted on Jul 5, 2011 in General, Media

Albert Koehler raises his right hand, smiles, and braves torrents of rain to  proudly recite the Oath of Citizenship at a special ceremony Friday.

Koehler’s been in Canada for 26 years. Only now did he find time to become a Canadian citizen.

“When I first came here, I had other priorities. I had to make a living and support my family,” he said.

“I arrived in Vancouver on March 10, 1985 with my wife and children, aged two and five. I  remember we were sitting at English Bay, the children were playing in the water. We were happy – even though we had nothing.”

He has no regrets about choosing Canada as his adopted homeland.

“When we came here, we had our back against the wall. I had to work hard to succeed. This country has allowed us to build up a new life from nothing. It took many years but now I am self-sufficient and financially independent.”

His success is a testament to what can be accomplished in life with a good education, solid work ethic and land of opportunity – Canada.

“There are still opportunities here for people who want them,” he said.

Koehler, 64, was born in Bermen, Germany and grew up on a farm. Later, he studied mechanical engineering in Cologne, earning his MSc. degree then a PhD in engineering.

He married Jutta in 1978 and seven years later, the couple immigrated to Canada.

Today, Koehler is a well known and highly regarded member of the Prince George community.

He’s past president of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce and served on several boards such as Resources North Association, Community Futures and the PG Symphony Orchestra. He is also author of over 40 published articles.

In 2005, he was appointed German Consular for all of northern British Columbia.

For Koehler, however, the road to success began with his own engineering consulting company, Tribotec International Ltd. in Vancouver. The business soon expanded to include a branch office in Prince George with Koehler going between the two cities where he continued to look after  clients and teach mechanical engineering courses at UBC.

In 1997, he made Prince George his full time home and accepted a position as adjunct professor at UNBC. He sold his company in 2004 and went into real estate management.

Koehler now feels totally immersed in the community.

“My journey from the small village in northern Germany to Prince George in central B.C. has been most interesting, challenging, enriching and also most rewarding,“ he writes on his webpage.

And true to his rural roots, Koehler lives with his family on a small farm west of Prince George and has an office in town where he continues to serve as German Consular and conduct his business.

His offspring too are enjoying their own success. His son is a land surveyor living in Vanderhoof and his daughter works in patient care for Northern Health.

Jutta will be next to get her Canadian citizenship.

“Then I’ll work on my children,” he jokes.

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