Ask-A-Candidate Question 20

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QUESTION ADDRESSED TO MORINVILLE MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Today, my wife and I took our granddaughters out for a walk around the down town core. Fifteen years have passed since we last did this, what a change we have found. You don’t realize the changes until you really walk around and look.

We started to compare the streetscape today and back then. This served as a serious wake up call to us. People, we are in trouble and it’s really bad. Our down town core is empty and the buildings are run down and shoddy. We have let you guys run willy nilly and now we are paying the price.

You have done some great things for our town, but retaining and attracting business to our down town core, you get a failing grade. As administrators, you guys on council are great. You can conduct a study, implement a policy and formulate a procedure. But utilizing the skills of economic development by retaining local business and the attraction of new business, you seem lost.

I feel sorry for the public works department and the bylaw enforcement folks. Keeping on top of all those empty lots and run down buildings has got to be difficult. Some of these buildings are so bad, it’s scary. Our trees on Main Street we were so proud of are broken or just missing all together.

This is a serious wake up call to the town. If we don’t do something now, this election, we will have tumble weeds rolling down Main Street and more lost businesses. We will have a fleet of shiny new trucks and a top notch public works department to go catch them. I feel ashamed of our town council, but mainly in our selves for letting this happen to us.

My question to the candidates:

What are you going to do to locate new business for our town?

What are you going to do make our existing business feel wanted in our town?

Be specific, I don’t want to hear the same old things you have been telling us for years.

And if I hear anybody tell us they are going to set up a mayor’s blue ribbon task force to increase business development. I will leave you with one thought.

Mayor Quimby off of the Simpsons, whenever he got into trouble that was his answer to everything.

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4 Comments

  1. PLEASE NOTE – Only Candidates may post comments to this posting. Morinvillenews.com welcomes reader comments on our articles, but we wish to keep these particular segments open for candidates alone so that readers do not have to separate who is and is not vying for their vote.

  2. My name is Gordon Boddez and I am running for Town Council. Your question is a good one and we all know that when we see a store that is empty or has not been maintained properly it certainly does not look very good. I drove down Main Street this afternoon just to see how many closed businesses there were. I counted about 3-4 vacancies. One building had 2 vacancies with paper on the windows, which I am sure many in town have seen and quite possibly the person who wrote this question, has noticed. One of these vacant locations had someone working inside and she was kind enough to let me in and talk.

    What I am going to describe in this discussion is that we often look at things from the outside without really knowing what is happening on the inside and we make certain judgements. Well it seems that the person who is moving into this site is moving because the site she was in prevously (in Morinville) was just too small. So she is doing renovations to the new site for her future business, which by the way is being structured to provide a safe place for our youth to frequent. This buiness is expanding. The second site (that also has paper on the windows) is a business that originally was located in Morinville, moved to Edmonton and now is returning to Morinville because they think they can do better here than they did in Edmonton. Both of these business owners believe they can do well in this local Morinville market area.

    I have talked with other business owners on Main Street. Did you know for example, the owner of the Shell sells more gas that any other Shell service station in all the Edmonton Metropolitan Area. This is quite remarkable for a town of 7,500 people. I had dinner last evening at Don’s Bistro (used to be Sheldon’s). The restaurant had at least 30 diners at 7:30 in the evening. This demonstrates support for local business but it also shows that if the food, price and service is good people will support it. Alberts and the Friends & Neighbors Family Restauant are doing just fine.

    What I am getting at here is that businesses do well for many reasons, with or without the help of the Town Council. However, it is the Town Council’s responsibility to set the framework (as you have suggested) to attract and retain businesses. In other words to set a good climate for business. In this regard more work needs to be done.

    There have been instances where business owners have complained that some Morinville Town employees (and de facto council) do not provide a service that is welcoming and supportive for people starting up or modifying a business. Some of these business owners have made a number of suggestions to improve interaction with business. If elected, I intend to bring these ideas back to council. They are practical ideas that will only help our Town provide a better service.

    Finally, I firmly believe that our Town Council needs to work more closely with our Chamber of Commerce and our Developers to set new mechanisms to market Morinville and the surrounding area in Sturgeon County. Part of this will be to improve the look of Main Street. We are probably the most underachieved area in the whole Metropolitan Edmonton Region. It is important that the Town of Morinville, in cooperation with our businesses set a new tone to create a thriving business climate. This can be done.

  3. Thank you for the questions and your concerns.

    Morinville does not need a “Mayor Task Force” to solve this situation; what we need is action.

    As your new Mayor, I will help, assist, and work together for a better Business Community in Morinville. In doing so; this will lead to a stronger Town and a stronger Chamber of Commerce.

    To be more direct to your questions:

    Morinville needs more businesses; that is why I will be starting a Morinville Economic Development Committee. There are businesses out there that want to come to Morinville however, have no one to speak to or anywhere to go to get information.

    However this does not mean hiring an Economic Development Officer, I will be asking Morinville residents and Business Owners to be part of this committee and their mandate is to pursue new businesses for Morinville without hindering the present businesses we presently have.

    Why this committee, first we need an inventory of what we have (land, infrastructure, list of businesses, what our businesses now can support), then we need to look at the future (1 to 10 and even 50 years from now) on what Morinville should and wants to look like, then we need an inventory on what we need in Morinville (and not what would be nice), then we need to come out with a business plan, information package (for future businesses, small or big) so on arrival of the site selectors we are ready for them, then we go out and advise the world that Morinville is Open for Business and all are Welcome.

    We need to start educating our citizens to SHOP LOCALLY – that also includes the Town administration and Council members. Morinville has a population of over 7600 and there is no reason why they can’t shop and save here. Our prices are comparable and in some cases if you add the cost of gas to go to St. Albert or Edmonton they are paying more.

    I believe that our Chamber of Commerce is on the right path and is supporting the business community, as they are doing their primary mandate such as working with the present businesses on how to make their everyday business success in Morinville, by mean of Networking, Promoting, and Educating them just to name a few.

    However the town can do better. We need to start by adding some incentive to new and old businesses. For example build a new business building and you will get 100% municipal tax reduction for the 1st year, 50% the 2nd year, and 25% the 3rd year. For existing businesses, renovate (outside and inside the building) so new employees can be employed (expanding the business) then a reduction of municipal tax should occur.

    As your new Mayor I will make Morinville known that “We are Open for Business and you are Welcome here”.

    Thank you

  4. I agree with your comments on 100 Avenue. However, we do have many businesses on that busy road. I was talking with four of those business owners last week while shopping. Their comment was that many residents look to those businesses for donations for clubs and organizations and yet do not shop at their business. We also have an exceptional public library on 100 Avenue that offers some unique programs for youth, adults and seniors.

    The short answer to all your questions is Morinville needs to hire an economic development officer to develop an economic development plan. For too long Morinville has unrealistically expected volunteer residents and businesses to be an ad hoc economic development “agency”.

    If you look at communities in the Capital region and across the province that been sucessful in attracting and retaining new business they have a dedicated economic development professional working with residents, businesses, neighboring communities and others to promote their communities.

    We have lived here 22 years and I cannot recall the last time Morinville engaged in promoting to new businesses. This needs to change!

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