When Everett Baker was elected into office as the mayor of Grand Forks in October, he had three main goals: to improve flood mitigation, to develop more housing, and to continue working with local hospitals to improve them for local residents.
As he prepares to enter his first full calendar year as mayor, Baker’s goals remain the same.
“We will continue on the same track that the previous council started before,” Baker said.
Consistency should be easy to achieve, given that two-thirds of councillors from the previous term have returned to City Hall.
“I’m very pleased with my council,” Baker said. With three incumbent councillors, Baker says the group has “a great diversity” of new and incumbent representatives.
Although there have been no significant new projects started since Baker entered office, he has spent time getting his house in order by following through on his promise to move the mayor’s office back to city hall. He believes the move will make the mayor’s office more accessible and will be a stepping stone to improving the flow of communication between himself and his constituents.
Baker has also spent some time since entering office having conversations with members of the provincial government to establish a connection on important issues. As per the Constitution Act of 1982, the affairs of municipalities are at the discretion of provincial governments, so a strong line of communication with B.C. is important for any mayor.
During his time as a city councillor, Baker was the city’s liaison to the provincial government.
“We’ve always had, in my time on council, a very congenial [relationship] and open communication,” Baker said.
Baker has many aspirations for collaboration with both the provincial and federal governments. In particular, he hopes to do more work in the senior housing area with the province and work more with Ottawa on flood mitigation efforts which are partially funded by the federal government.
For now, Baker’s visions remain aspirational. The new council will assemble in January to create its strategic plan for the term ahead which will detail the city’s goals and what its deliverables will be for constituents.
“I’m looking forward to getting that part down because, of course, that sets the goals for all of us and gives us a mark,” said Baker. “Hopefully they’re attainable and we can reach them.”