Letter: Thanks for including citizens

Thank you again for including the citizens in this development of the strategic priorities which will affect us all, writes Donna Semenoff.

An open letter to mayor and council

Thank you for this open house, which gives citizens the opportunity to contribute their ideas of a vision for Grand Forks from now until 2018.

My understanding is that only ideas compatible with our city’s sustainable community plan can be pursued.

Having lived here many years and having read many city documents, I submit the following ideas to be considered as priorities from now until 2018:

1. Keep Grand Forks affordable for all by:

a) Charging minimal taxes to residents, and minimal fees for life-essential items.

We have a higher than average percentage of low income residents. Vital Signs 2014 shows that approximately 24 per cent of seniors in the area are considered to be living in low income households, compared with 14 per cent in B.C. and 13 per cent in Canada.

b) Develop a committee with residents to explore ways to raise extra funds for projects, such as grants, donations, fundraisers, residents or local businesses advancing the city funds, solar farm…

2. Consider the environmental impact (short and long term) in all decision-making, by:

a) Reducing consumption where possible:

— Using dishes, or inviting the public to bring their own, instead of using disposables.

— Purchasing sturdy long-lasting products, that could be used and reused for a long time.

(Using disposables creates unnecessary pollution due to the extraction of resources, manufacturing, packaging and transportation involved. Since we have a good supply of water in Grand Forks, it is more environmentally friendly to wash dishes than to use disposables.)

b) When embarking on new projects, have the engineering companies include a life cycle analysis of the different options.

The above ideas offer the city an opportunity to model sustainability!

3. Build positive relations and trust between the local government and the residents by:

a) Acting on the city’s goal to work in partnership with all interested citizens, businesses, organizations and schools to achieve common, sustainable goals.

In particular, the Grand Forks Sustainable Community Plan included the proposal to, “Create a well-defined facilitated decision making process that is transparent and ensures accountability, and allows the community to weigh out the trade offs and consequences of the decisions.”

b) Working collaboratively with residents rather than being forceful regarding water meters:

— Inviting any residents who have concerns about water meters to submit letters to the city by a certain date, and publish the submissions.

— Host a videoed town hall meeting to address any water meter issues.

c) Create a draft of the city’s strategic priorities 2015-2018 to bring back to the community for questions and feedback.

Thank you again for including the citizens in this development of the strategic priorities which will affect us all. I will look forward to seeing the results!

Donna Semenoff, BA BEd, Grand Forks