(As published on line by MJ Independent)
Moose Jaw has a by-election scheduled for October 17th.
The purpose of the by-election is to fill a few vacancies. One of which is a board seat for the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Separate School Division and the other is the one we will be addressing here. To fill the City Council position left behind after long serving Don Mitchell’s resignation.
We fielded 10 questions to the candidates that we believed residents of Moose Jaw would want to hear answered. Some of the questions are tough and policy driven, others are lighter and meant to expound on the candidates character, desires and personality. What follows, we hope, is a guideline Moose Javians can go to when deciding which candidate would best represent them
10 Questions for Heather Eby
Tell me about yourself. Do you have a family? What do you do for fun and what do you do for a living?
My husband and I are fortunate enough to have our two grown daughters, their husbands and their children live in Moose Jaw where they are building their own careers and lives.
We do a lot of stuff as a family for fun, including Warrior hockey games in the winter and weekly family suppers. We are all at Lake Diefenbaker for much of the summer together where we enjoy golfing, paddle boating, boating, wake surfing and all the rest of the things that go along with lake time.
My husband and I also like to do a bit of travelling. Personally, I enjoy my membership at the Moose Jaw YMCA, walking with friends, reading and going to the movies.
I am a full time, Registered Massage Therapist and have been self-employed as such for nearly 25 years. Over the course of a year I see approximately 1000 clients – so I do have a very busy practice and have always loved my job! Being self-employed has its challenges, but the rewards have outweighed those challenges mightily!
Why do you want to be a City Councillor?
I believe Moose Jaw is the best place to live and would love the opportunity to again be a positive ambassador for the city both inside and outside it’s borders. I also believe in our potential as a community and want to see us reach new levels of growth in economic development and community pride.
From 2009 to 2016 I served as a City Councillor. During that time I sat in various boards and committees. I was also an active member of Council in the community. I was very fortunate to be mentored those seven years by four experienced individuals and believe that what I learned from them has equipped me for the job ahead as it did for the years I spent at City Hall.
I have been successfully self-employed for 25 years, which takes discipline and perseverance, as well as a very strong work ethic. these are definitely attributes that serve me well as a City Councillor.
I am also a strong communicator, very approachable and respectful even in the most difficult situations.
What is your vision for Moose Jaw?
That we become a city that takes pride in itself. I feel that along the way much of that has become lost or eroded. I feel that if there is a strong sense of pride people will take better care of their surroundings and that will spread out into the community. But perhaps even more than that, I believe that City Council needs to collectively take more pride in our city too. If we all take pride in what we are doing then things will really begin to change; maybe slowly at first, but the change will be evident. Pride in our city will have the power to change our city, from the inside out.
There are concerns there is too much secrecy at City Hall and in Council. What, if anything, would you do to make things more transparent?
In-camera, or as some like to call them, “secret meetings” can only happen if they meet the criteria for such. It does seem that there have been a lot of in-camera meetings already this term, but I trust that Council and Administration are following the policies in place for calling them. Without knowing the details of such meetings it is impossible to say they were not warranted.
At the present time the City is involved in a major infrastructure upgrade which caused problems for many High Street West businesses. What would you do to ensure this never happens again?
I believe Administration has to be given some (controlled) leeway when it comes to awarding contracts, especially in projects of such magnitude. I am unsure of how the Purchasing Policy is currently addressing that but the lowest bidder is not always the best deal for City work and in the end the lowest bidder can and has cost the tax payer a lot more money.
In the case of the High St. situation; it cost many businesses their livelihoods. That is unacceptable.
What, for you, should be the number one priority for the City? And what would you like done to achieve it?
Core infrastructure is always top of mind. I know that right now community safety/crime reduction is an emerging issue that is on the minds of many, many Moose Javians. We have seen and heard of, what seems to be, a dramatic increase in drug-related crimes; including the most violent of offences in our city in the past several months. You could have a city with perfect infrastructure but if people don’t feel safe in their neighbourhoods they wont care that there are no potholes
To address this I would support our Board of Police Commissioners in a bid to lobby the province for more funded positions in the Police Service. We have long had the lowest number of officers per capita in the province and I don’t believe we can accept that any longer.
With the referendum against the Cast Iron Local Improvement Program only valid for three years would you be in favour of reintroducing a similar program when that time limit expires?
No. The community spoke loud and clear on that.
What are your views on the ward system?
Personally I think our city is small enough that councillors can effectively serve the community as a whole, as required. Oftentimes residents feel a kinship with a certain councillor who may not actually be in what would be their “ward”, and I think they should be free to contact the councillor of their choice, without other members of council feeling territorial. I understand why certain people would want us to implement a ward system but in bigger cities, Regina for example, their wards are often the same size or bigger than our city as a whole.
What do you think about economic development for the City? What type of industries would you like to encourage here?
Moose Jaw has lagged behind in attracting significant Economic Development projects for many years. It seems we get to a point with potential big projects and then something happens to stall or end it. Do we have too much bureaucracy? Not enough incentive? Is our labour pool lacking? These are questions that are, hopefully, always being explored by City Hall and adjusted as needed, or as we are able to.
I would really like to see the South East Industrial Corridor get it’s first anchor tenant. Once we can attract and solidify on major industry there, such as an Ag Value Added business, I truly think others will follow. There would be synergies there for “like” businesses to build upon for mutual success. Those kinds of jobs will be higher paying, and companies of that size will add to our tax base in a significant way, maybe not right out of the gate but its the long term we need to look at.As