Thank you

Posted on Nov 29, 2018 in General

On Monday I was honoured by Mayor and Council for my years of service. I really appreciated all the kind and thoughtful words and comments from all the councillors and Mayor. It has been a privilege (given to me by the residents) to serve for 2 terms. Thank you for also including Jutta, my wife, as I couldn’t have done this all without her support.

And someone at the City must know of my love of nature, as I was presented with this beautiful painting that fits perfectly into our home decor by a local artist, Oliver Ray. Thank you to everyone that made this presentation happen.

Running out of air

Posted on Aug 22, 2018 in Media

REPOSTED from PG CITIZEN Aug 22, 2018

B.C. is burning again and obviously not much has been learned from the fires last year when it comes to getting them under control. I hear people saying that this will probably be normal in the future and there is little we can do about it. Rubbish.

I do not accept that and do not believe it. When it all started all of a sudden last year climate change may have had an impact, but can certainly not be held responsible for all fires.

Naturally, we have to continue fighting the fires, but there should be an equal focus on fire prevention. We cannot prevent thunderstorms, but we can adapt and minimize the available fuel and remove dead wood for instance. Our fire fighters deserve all the praise and certainly have to be commended for what they are doing. Sad however, that the resources are so limited which allows small initial fires to get out of control. Our government does not seem to understand the impact these fires have on our society. I am not just referring to the potential loss of life and assets, but also to the huge impact it has on our economy: our tourism industry will take a dive, our forestry industry has to deal with huge losses, the damage to our health and well-being is devastating. The overall costs are high and have to be carried by the tax payer. All that is impacting our economy which inevitably will lead to job losses.

The current horrendous fire in California has been started by an arsonist.

The bad fire in Greece has been started by an arsonist.

According to an analysis of fire causes, close to 40 per cent of all B.C. fires last year started due to “human causes,” arson included. Yes, arson.

It can be assumed that the “close to 40 per cent” for human causes can be applied this year as well because many fires started without a thunder storm near, days later. As a matter of fact, completely new fires are still showing up lately without a thunderstorm.

It often is reported that there is a fire but “only a few acres in size.” Such a fire gets out of control fast and the circumference increases to a length that requires many individuals, plus equipment, to fight it.

Two hundred military personnel can most likely not change much. It is too little too late, and should have been 2,000 or more and the fitting equipment along with it.

In closing, it is extremely frustrating that we in beautiful B.C. are obviously unable to get a handle on it.

Albert Koehler Sr.

Prince George

Suffering the slings and arrows

Posted on Jun 28, 2018 in Election, Media

REPOSTED FROM PG CITIZEN JUNE 28, 2018

There will be at least two new faces on Prince George city council after Oct. 20, with Tuesday’s announcement that Albert Koehler will not be running a third term.

Rookie councillor Jillian Merrick let it be known earlier this month that she would not be running again.

To both Koehler and Merrick, thank you for your work on behalf of the residents of Prince George. The city is a better place because of your commitment to public service and you earned every dollar of your city councillor income.

Koehler’s letter to mayor and council announcing his decision was a textbook in personal and political class.

Instead of talking about the many hardships of public life, he stressed only the positives, starting with how honoured” and blessed he felt to have been chosen by local voters to make important decisions on their behalf. 

He thanked his council colleagues for the respect he was given. He thanked Mayor Lyn Hall for his leadership. He wished Merrick “all the best for the future” and he wished the remainder of his council colleagues – all seeking re-election Oct. 20 – “much success.”

His reasons to not run again were simple and straightforward. Five young grandchildren. A bucket list that isn’t getting any shorter, the impending retirement of his wife and some health concerns.

Even with those considerations, he said the decision still wasn’t easy. He loved the work because it was more than just a job, he loved the people, he loved making a difference.

Koehler did things his own way during his seven years on city council. He paid for his election campaigns exclusively out of his own pocket. He spoke firmly but carefully at the council table. He let his warmth and sense of humour shine. And his pocket of Werther’s candies (a reflection of his German background) seemed bottomless.

How Koehler saw his role on city council was reflected in his remarks made during Monday night’s debate on increasing the pay for the mayor and councillors elected this October. 

“The question is ‘why are we here?’ For the mayor it is a full-time job, no doubt,” he said. “(But) when it comes to us councillors, I have a different opinion.”

Coun. Terri McConnachie, hardly an obvious political ally of Koehler’s, echoed the sentiment.

“This is not my full-time job, it’s my privilege,” McConnachie said. “A large portion of what we do is public service.”

Not everyone feels the same, both on council and in the public. Some feel paying a part-time wage for putting in the full-time hours councillors are expected to contribute is a barrier to broader representation. Coun. Murry Krause made that argument, supported by Merrick.

But Koehler framed it best with his question – why are we here? If someone wants a seat at the city council table strictly to be gainfully employed and cash a cheque every two weeks, they need to find a different job. Political service should be taken up out of a sense of duty, of giving back to the community. 

That’s why Koehler was there and that’s the desire that motivates most people who let their name stand for public office. And when they do get elected, they feel – to use Koehler’s words – honoured and blessed by the trust placed in them by fellow residents to do essential work.

That’s not a job, that’s a calling.

And that’s not romanticizing political responsibilities, that’s properly placing the emphasis on constituents over putting in time and getting paid.

Particularly in light of the federal government’s move to claw back tax-free allowances, the current mayor and council deserve the raises, the first in four years, that will go into the effect for the next city council, 

After all, if they wanted to really get paid, they’d apply to work in the bureaucracy where the real bucks are, not in the public eye.

Koehler not seeking re-election in the fall

Posted on Jun 27, 2018 in Election, Media

Reposted from PG Daily News – June 27, 2018

Albert Koehler will not be seeking a third term on council.

“I have come to the conclusion/decision not to let my name stand for re-election in October,” he said in a letter to mayor and council, and released to the media Tuesday.

Koehler said there were a couple of determining factors in his decision, including his age, his health, spending more time with family, and a desire to knock items off his ‘bucket list.’

“I am not the youngest anymore and have a family now with five grandchildren, aged between two and eight years,” he wrote. “Further, my bucket list does not seem to get shorter when it comes to travel, building a cottage and more time for various projects and activities. My wife is planning to retire and we would like to have more time for doing things together. Well, finally and probably most important, I got quite a health scare some months ago. Something that requires close monitoring with the next ‘inspection’ in coming December/January.”

Koehler was first elected in 2011 and crusaded against perennial tax hikes imposed by city council. He funded his own campaigns in both 2011 and 2014, choosing not to fundraise as most other candidates do.

He said the decision not to run was a difficult one as he very much enjoys the position.

“I feel very honoured to have been elected twice by a good number of our residents,” he wrote. “I feel blessed to have been part of important decisions that we made over the years leading to huge betterments in our city. Many results of these decisions will, as you know, show up later and will have a tremendous impact on a positive change of Prince George.

With seven years on council and eight years as the Honourary Consul of Germany for all of northern B.C. he has served 15 years in public service while chairing an industrial operation until just a few years ago.

“I thank all of you for respecting me and my opinion,” he wrote in his letter to council. “All of you are extremely qualified for continuing with the work on council and I wish you much success at the coming election, and Jillian (Merrick) all the best for the future, wherever it leads you. Further, without the superb leadership of our mayor we would, in my opinion, not have been as successful as we have been and the work at council would not have been as enjoyable as it was (still is). Thanks Lyn.”

He also gave a nod to the administrative staff and thanked them for all the assistance.

Koehler’s decision to not seek re-election means there will be at least two new faces on city council after the October 20 election. Jillian Merrick announced last week that she will not be seeking re-election. Kyle Sampson has announced that will be running for city council.

Albert Koehler Stepping Away from Municipal Politics

Posted on Jun 27, 2018 in Election, Media

Reposted from MyPGNow – June 27, 2018

You can now add Albert Koehler’s name to the list of city councillors not running for re-election in Prince George.

He joins Jillian Merrick on the list on who’s vacating their spot on the council as we inch closer to the October 20th Civic Election.

The 71-year old says he wants to take a step back following a personal situation earlier this year.

“A while ago I really wanted to run again but then I had to re-evaluate everything because of my age and a health scare, which caused me to think about everything again.”

“It was a difficult decision but everything in life has an end and that has always been me, I’ve been there for two-terms, have done many other things and we’ll see where my health is going and hopefully it’s OK but I don’t know that yet.”

Koehler has five grandchildren and would like to make room for others.

The local politician has been active on several fronts over the past eight years but refuses to look at his accomplishments in an “I” or “Me” sense and instead implemented a more team-first approach with his fellow council members using terms such as “We”, “Us” and “Ours”.

“I have raised awareness or taxes and tax increases and I have led the campaign to get the fluoride out of the city’s water but council has done this and I just started that. I have been active on the education side especially the engineering program at UNBC for the last 20 years.”

“However, it was council and the city who has supported this, so it was not I, it was again we and who knows, without the city or without council it might not have been there.”

Koehler won’t seek reelection

Posted on Jun 26, 2018 in Election, Media

REPOSTED FROM PG CITIZEN – JUNE 26, 2018

Coun. Albert Koehler announced he won’t be seeking reelection in October in an email to local media on Tuesday.

Koehler is in his seventh year on city council.

“My decision has been difficult because I very much enjoy the work on council and feel very honored to have been elected twice by a good number of our residents,” he wrote in the email.

“I feel blessed to have been part of important decisions that we made over the years leading to huge betterments in our city.”

Koehler thanked the public and his council colleagues for their support and cooperation.

He said he plans to spend more time with his family and his wife, who plans on retiring soon.

“Further, my bucket list does not seem to get shorter when it comes to travel, building a cottage and more time for various projects and activities.”

Prince George to Host 2022 BC Summer Games

Posted on Mar 10, 2017 in Local Events, Media

Friday, March 10, 2017
Original Article HERE.

Prince George, B.C. – Another major sporting event is coming to Prince George.

Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris confirmed today in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Kin 1 the city will host the 2022 BC Summer Games (July 21-24).

Morris said the decision to grant the Games was made by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and was based on several factors the city scored well in.

“Which includes the facilities we have here and the sports venues.”

Acting Mayor Albert Koehler said he welcomed the news another major event is coming to town.

“We have the facilities, our city has a good reputation, we have all the accommodations that are required for big events. It’s good for the city and it’ll certainly bring in some revenue. So why not?”

The BC Games Society estimates over 3,700 athletes, coaches, managers and officials will participate in approximately 18 sports.

It also estimates the economic impact of the BC Summer Games is $2 million.

The provincial government contributes over $2 million annually to the BC Games Society to support the BC Summer and BC Winter Games.

The City of Prince George has committed $45,000 cash and another $50,000 in-kind to host the event while the BC Games Society will contribute over half-a-million dollars.

The last major sporting event the city hosted was the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Prince George last hosted the BC Summer Games in 1990 and before that the BC Winter Games in 1981.

City’s user fees and charges on the way up

Posted on Dec 9, 2016 in Media

Article by Citizen staff / Prince George Citizen

DECEMBER 9, 2016 04:59 PM

A near across-the-board increase in fees and charges for city services over the next three years is on its way.

City council gave three readings Monday night to a bylaw for three-per-cent per year hikes for the next three years.

Services offered by the cemetery, CN Centre, arenas, Civic Centre, swimming pools, Pine Valley golf course, Masich Park, Prince George Playhouse and animal control are among those to be affected.

Some other services remain under review and proposals will be brought to council at later dates.

Coun. Albert Koehler the sole council member to vote against and only to be “consistent” with his opposition to an equivalent hike in the property tax levy.

Others said it’s simply something that has to be done and by setting them out for the next three years, users can at least plan ahead and avoid the shock that comes with a massive single increase every few years.

“If we say no to this, then we’re going to have to go to the tax levy to recover some of these costs and then the user in a sense isn’t paying,” Coun. Brian Skakun said.

Even with the user fees, the taxpayer at large provides subsidies ranging from 48 to 52 per cent, Mayor Lyn Hall said.

A copy of the bylaw outlining the hikes is posted with this story at www.pgcitizen.ca.

– See more at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/city-s-user-fees-and-charges-on-the-way-up-1.4192820#sthash.T0M2QNmj.dpuf

Innovation, Education Essential

Posted on Aug 22, 2016 in Media, Technology

REPOSTED FROM Aug 22, 2016 from THE PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN 

Economic development, as well as diversification and innovation, are buzz words we hear at almost all gatherings and/or presentations. The question remains how to diversify, and while opinions are many, realistic solutions are only a few. Lately another question arises: How much economic development do we really need or want and at what speed? The answer for this is complex, because the world around us is changing, whether we like it or not, and if we in B.C. want to remain competitive and maintain reasonably high levels of employment and a decent standard of living, we constantly have to find new ways of generating wealth and good employment opportunities that allow sustainability for years to come. For this to happen, we certainly can wait for investments that may or may not occur in our city or region, something that can be influenced by us only on a limited scale. Friends recently said to me, “We are waiting for one or two pipelines and that would change a lot.” Really? We know, it would relate to LNG or other fossil fuel products. Excluding these options happening in the very near future, the question remains: What else can add value to our society, meaning living condition, health and education, etc. above what is already there?

Since staying with the status quo is never an option, change has to be embraced and options for it researched. The next question is: Which new ideas and actions can bring us forward? What about the resurrection of old ideas that have been shelved? I am referring, for instance, to an extension of the railway line from Fort St. James via Deas Lake and Cassiar to Alaska. This project has been on the drawing board of our provincial governments for years. A rail line would not just open up the north-west corridor to all sorts of resources, including timber which we are short of in the Omineca region due to the pine beetle devastation, but would generate future employment opportunities as well. Yes, the Site C dam will probably be built and a good portion of the generated energy could possibly be used for the electrification of the rail line. Just imagine.

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, knowledge is limited but imagination is not. We could have an environmentally friendly “highway” (rail line) to Alaska. I am confident that our provincial government is studying the viability of these approaches which would allow potential economic growth and added diversification for generations to come. Sure, it would require all stakeholders being at the table: the government of Alaska, the Yukon government, our provincial government, our federal government, First Nations, industry and others who could either contribute or benefit from this project. The Alaska Rail Corporation has recently studied the return of investment and annual revenue of such a line, also considering the impact of tourism. The Economic Impact Report of 2005 combined for Canada and Alaska reveals that the additional economic output would be staggering and lead to 25,000 jobs over 50 years. A web site listing several reports cooperatively published by the governments of Alaska and the Yukon can be obtained at economics.gov.yk.ca/rail.htm.

My comments here would not be complete if I would not mention the tremendous opportunities before us due to betterment of a society through education and accessibility to it, allowing everyone to utilize their individual strength and potential for the benefit of all. Our schools and post-secondary education institutions are great social ambassadors, also uniquely positioned to provide education that is required now and in the future. I am confident that our governments try to improve and add to it where possible. Quoting our Premier: “The north of B.C. is the heartbeat of B.C.”

I remain very hopeful that education in the north can be fine-tuned and currently missing programs be added to allow for growth and implementation of new ideas, so Prince George and the region can become an innovation factory in the north. One of the results of the Prince George city council’s education committee facilitation event has been that Prince George (and region) can be and should be a destination for education. More students, more programming and retention of students will benefit all of us in central and northern B.C. Not easy to achieve, I know, but it is the best way to create jobs and future employment from within, building capacity to create and develop what is needed without relying on investors alone.

— Albert Koehler is an engineer, businessman, Prince George city councillor and director of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George

UNBC Senate Supports Civil Engineering Program

Posted on Apr 28, 2016 in Media

You might have heard it from Twitter first, but the rumours are true. UNBC Senate has approved the content for a Civil Engineering program in the North. There are still many steps before it is official, but as you can see we are celebrating every step! Please also look at the PG Citizen article below as well as the link to the CKPG video.

2016-04-29_09-28-49


Article by Samantha Wright Allen  from Prince George Citizen
April 28, 2016

Albert Koehler still has the proposal he wrote up 20 years ago to bring a civil engineering program to Prince George’s university.

He was in Senate chambers Wednesday night when the University of Northern B.C. approved the program.

“It’s one step. It’s not the final step … because the Ministry (of Advanced Education) still has to approve it and it has to come up with funds but I’m quite confident that there are some negotiations going on about this,” said the city councillor.

The Board of Governors would still have to approve it in the upcoming budget, but Koehler said it was a move years in the making. It will still be several more years before the degree is finalized, however, as UNBC gets down to the business of getting the on-the-ground details in order.

“Now we have the high level picture of what the program going to look like, what the courses are, the time frames for graduation,” said Dan Ryan Interim Vice President Academic and Provost. “But there’s still a number of elements … with respect to developing the co-op program, fleshing out the new courses we have to develop and putting all those process in place. And of course any infrastructure that we need.”

There are too many elements in play to nail down a certain timeframe, he said.

“The earliest we could do it is 2017 but that’s a very aggressive timeframe, which I’d be happy if we hit it but I’m not sure we would.”

Funding is key, Ryan said, but the plans are still too preliminary to make an estimated amount public.

“It’s always great when we put a lot of work into something and you. Actually see it starting to come to fruition but that being said it is one step closer. There’s a lot of other steps before we can offer the program.”

The push for the program has been ongoing the six years Ryan has been at the university. Much of that has been from the industry.

“It’s been a challenge I think from the industry in order to get the expertise they need to come to the north and stay in the north,” Ryan said.

Koehler, of course, was one of those voices. In 1996 Koehler, who runs his own consulting engineering company called Tribotec International Ltd, first drafted a proposal for a industrial engineering program. Then again in 1998.

“Nothing happened then, those were the first years of the university and obviously a lot of other things had to be done.”

He compared the need for skilled engineers in the north to the Northern Medical Program’s work keeping physicians in the north, which Ryan echoed.

“This is a great opportunity for students to come to UNBC to learn about engineering and develop their roots in the north and ultimately when they graduate, set up shop in the north,” said Ryan.

And, if the north is to diversify its economy and grow it, it needs this program, Koehler argued.

“I think it’s important for our community and for the north in general because there’s a tremendous gap between supply and demand. Corporations cannot find the people they need,” said Koehler, who also chairs the city’s education committee.

“Technology is driving the economy here and elsewhere and we cannot neglect it here in Prince George. How can we have a university and college in the midst of an industrial area and not have an engineering program?”

– See more at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/unbc-senate-supports-civil-engineering-program-1.2242061#sthash.yqpSaAp6.nOejJ7la.dpuf

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