Councillor Albert Koehler announced his bid for a second term on Friday.
Koehler said if reelected he hopes to advocate for a balance of investment in basic infrastructure, maintaining a fair tax regime and making the city a more attractive place to live.
“I thought about it and I have a passion for this city. I feel I am not done yet,” Koehler said. “This is a really good place, and it is worthwhile to get involved and make it a better place. It’s easy to complain… but if there is something not right, let’s look at making it better.”
The city has to take care of essential services like paving roads, snow plowing and repairing aging infrastructure, he said.
But that must be balanced against maintaining a competitive tax framework, with increases that don’t exceed the cost of living. The city’s tax rates have risen rapidly in recent year, he said, making
“It’s about making sure our tax framework isn’t just low, but fair,” he said. “We have to get the message out that we are open for business.”
But if there is money left after covering the basics, the city needs to invest in making the city more attractive, Koehler said.
He said he’d like to see Prince George grow to about 100,000 people, and to do that the city needs a simple, cohesive strategy to attract both business investment and new residents – especially engineers, technicians and other technical workers needed to fuel the resource-based growth expected in the region.
“We have to look at innovation. We really need everybody,” Koehler said.
Koehler, the founder of the Northern Technology and Engineering Society of B.C., has been a longtime advocate for additional technical training in northern B.C.
“How come we are an industrial area, but we don’t have a technical program at the college. We have no full-fledged engineering program,” he said. “We are not getting the educated people… if we don’t educate them here. They aren’t coming. If we don’t have that, we are foreclosing on the economic opportunities out there.”
Already companies -including his son’s survey company -are having trouble attracting skilled workers in the city, he said.
Being on city council has given Koehler a chance to advocate for additional trades and technical training in the city.
Koehler knows a little something about technical innovation. He is a certified mechanic, professional engineer, university professor, inventor and business person.
He successfully founded three companies and holds six patents, including a patent for the first multi-bit screwdriver with bits in the handle which can be changed with one hand.
Koehler said he approaches city council with a three Cs approach: communicate, common sense and can do.
“I apply all three with a positive attitude and mindset,” he added. “Shoot for the stars, and if you reach the moon, be satisfied.”
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