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
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
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.
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?”
By Greg Fry
Prince George, B.C. – No word yet on when the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Senate approved civil engineering program might be rolled out.
Dr. Dan Ryan, UNBC’s Interim Vice President Academic and Provost, says yesterday’s approval simply laid out the “academic framework” for the program.
“And what that does is it builds out the idea with respect to the courses, how we’re offering them, or how we’re planning to offer them.”
In order for the program to receive final approval, he says UNBC still needs the approval of the ministry of advanced education and the school’s board of governors, not to mention find its funding sources.
“It’s really to be frank difficult to assess when we’ll be able to have our first class because all those pieces have to fall into place first,” says Ryan. “But that being said, with the academic program in place, we can move relatively quickly once we figure out some of those other elements.”
Once the program jumps through those hoops he says they will need to go through some steps with the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board “to ensure it’s a fully appropriately accredited program.”
“And that would be the equivalent of a four year undergraduate degree – a four year degree. Now we’re adding a co-op component to it which means it may take longer to finish because they have work terms associated with it so it’s basically a five year degree with co-op in there.”
And like Prince George City Councillor Albert Koehler told 250News earlier today (see story here), he says the program will certainly help fill a void currently being felt in Prince George.
“We have engineers coming to the North that often end up not staying in the North because they don’t understand or appreciate the North.
“And we know from our Northern Medical Program that when we train students in the North, they stay in the North because they understand and appreciate what’s going on.”
By Charelle Evelyn / Prince George Citizen
During the municipal election campaign, The Citizen sent out four questions for each of the candidates for mayor and city council to answer about their stand on various civic issues.
Earlier this month, city hall reporter Charelle Evelyn sent out a different sort of questionnaire to the new mayor and council, hoping to learn more about their personal interests and background buy levitra vardenafil. All but Coun. Susan Scott took part.
To find out which city councillor’s favourite album is AC/DC’s Back In Black and which councillor would have KFC as his last meal before his death sentence, keep reading.
Classical music lover Albert Koehler is into his second term on city council and has come a long way from the tricycle-riding tot wheeling around the family farm.
1. Book currently on your night stand (or open on your e-reader)?
A book by Tom Clancy: Command Authority (a great book if someone wants to know what Putin has or had in mind).
2. Three things you’d take with you if you were marooned on an island?
A bible, food for a week or so and a satellite phone.
3. What is the go-to song to lift your spirits?
My spirits are always lifted. Well, there is a nice German song which translated means: The sun is always shining, above the clouds.
4. Favourite movie/TV show?
I do not watch TV shows.
5. What is your earliest memory?
When I was three years old and got a tricycle to play and ride on our farm.
6. Least favourite word?
7. Ideal vacation spot?
Austria, northern Italy
8. Favourite band/musician and/or favourite album?
CD of Johann Strauss: Vienna Walzes
9. If you were on death row, what would you choose for your last meal?
Scrambled eggs with fresh potatoes
10. What quote would you want printed with your obituary?
“Thank you for this life.”
11. What’s your favourite thing to do to unwind?
Walking through nature and the woods.
12. What’s your favourite thing to do in Prince George?
Meeting with friends and people.
13. What would friends say is your most annoying habit?
I do not know that.
14. If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be?
My parents and my wife.
15. What was your first car?
A Simca 1000, which was a French car in Germany, not very special but a nice small car.
16. Which team do you root for during the FIFA World Cup?
17. Best/worst subject in school?
Best: Forestry and Nature. Worst: English literary (my English was the pits)
18. Who was your biggest influence as a child?
19. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
The gift of health.
20. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
1976 – hunting in the Iranian mountains and driving with a Volkswagen van in dry river beds (with two good friends).
– See more at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/albert-koehler-20-questions-1.1692576#sthash.FZY6E5oC.dpuf
Thanks to all those that voted and for your support throughout this campaign. I am honoured to serve this community for another 4 years.
Prince George is filled with incredible citizens willing to serve. Thank you to all the candidates that put their name in to run. It takes courage to put your name forward and I hope to see your continued service in our community.
Here’s a picture from last night with a few of my recently elected council members and our new Mayor Lyn Hall.
My family and I had so much fun last night at the Cougars’ Game. It is definitely a New Ice Age. Thanks to everyone that stopped to say hi.
Last week, I put forward a motion to look more closely at 35 capital projects set to be funded in 2015 with an eye of trimming the tax increase from 2.5% to 1.83% . We need to be looking forward at our tax framework if we want to attract more businesses and individuals to #cityofpg!
I had to vote against the budget for 2015.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 @ 9:34 AM
Prince George, B.C. – Albert Koehler is seeking a second term on Prince George City Council.
Koehler has been an advocate for minimal tax increases and the elimination of the practice of fluoridating the water supply.
Koehler says there has been quite a bit of critique on the hiring of a consultant to look at snow removal and fleet maintenance “That was a decision by Administration and they have the right to make that decision.” He says Council did not have an opportunity to support or reject the hiring Mercury Associates for the $130 thousand dollar report.
He says the problem with fleet maintenance, was “clearly a management problem”. The fleet maintenance report says more than 50% of the fleet is outdated and needs to be replaced.
“Maintenance is not just repairing machinery anymore\’ says Koehler “We threw hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix machinery that should have been replaced long ago.”
He says he often feels he has not been given all the information a councillor should have in order to do the job as the governing body.
OBAC Ignite the North Project was launched to foster and encourage innovation in the North – for the North. This project will reach out to 11 communities across the north to foster an innovative mindset. Ten events will take place in Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers (including Telkwa), McBride, Valemount, Mackenzie and Prince George.
“Ignite the North” hopes to inspire the next generation of innovators initiating conversations on entrepreneurship, out of the box thinking and collaboration. Education is also a key component, as learning helps to fuel creativity and motivation.
“We need innovation and to get our kids to start thinking about how to build and create things and add value to them,” says Dr. Albert Koehler, who is an entrepreneur and inventor with many patents to his name.
As a board member and executive committee member of OBAC (Omineca Beetle Action Coalition), Koehler was tasked to bring more innovation into the Northern Region. With the initial seed funding from OBAC, Koehler created (and is the OBAC Chair of) the Ignite the North Project.
“Entrepreneurs/intrapreneurs who share their stories about their journey (the success and the challenges) help to inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers,” explains Shauna Harper, Project Lead for Ignite the North Project. “We need to share that it is okay to make mistakes along our journey and that the action of ‘trying’ will spark the best ideas and birth new innovations.”
The event is not just focused solely on youth. The community portion of the event is asking entrepreneurs, community members and leaders from all sectors to come and share their experiences, insights and suggestions on how to inspire the next generation as well as find ways for the businesses in the community to be more collaborative and innovative. Each event is free.
“Ignite the North” recognizes obstacles that block the development of an entrepreneurial mindset of innovators in the north. The project will help connect entrepreneurs and communities in the north to build resiliency, create jobs and develop thriving communities.