Lower taxes and more transparency at the municipal government level are two of the things Vanderhoof mayoral candidate Ken Holden is running on.
The retired resident is one of three people vying for the top job after Gerry Thiessen decided to step down after a 14-year run.
Holden told Vista Radio the tax rate for the district is too high for a population base that is hovering around the 5-thousand mark.
“That is one of my big ones. I have been working with the budget figures, questioning why our taxes are as high as they are. I have lived in other places and we are a little higher.”
“There is a different vision I guess for the people that I represent have for Vanderhoof. Openness and encouraging businesses is a big one and of course, that comes right back to taxes,”
One of Holden’s goals is to have an “open council” when discussing major issues.
“There was a forensic audit done recently on the District of Vanderhoof and I don’t know why this was kept from the public and just as importantly I do not know why the results were kept from the public. That’s the kind of thing that I can change and make that an improvement on how things are run at the council level.”
Despite some recent progress on the housing front, outgoing mayor Gerry Thiessen noted more could have been done to accelerate development – citing government red tape as a constant stumbling block.
While Vanderhoof has a permissive tax exemption on new housing where contractors receive a break over a five-year period to try and encourage housing, provincial legislation continues to restrict small, rural communities.
Holden agrees with Thiessen that the government-red tape has been problematic, however, he believes the philosophy of previous councils was to keep the population capped at a certain point, which negated any chance of further development.
“There has been a movement I would say for the last three terms of council where they decide to hold the population below 5,000 was a priority for what council was dealing with. I am not sure that was the right way to go.”
“There are private enterprises willing to put in subdivisions to build houses if they can find a place to put them. One of the problems we have here is that the services are not in place to allow for any type of major expansion.”
Holden is also of the opinion more building lots are needed in order for the district to experience growth.
Kevin Moutray and George Funk are the other two candidates running for mayor.
The election is set for October 15th.