Wednesday November 3, 2010

City Hall News

A Mayor Minute

Sharon Gaetz talks about Crime, Transit and Cultural Centre Open House



hilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz was on 98.3 Starfm Wednesday morning. The following are highlights from her conversation with radio personality Scott Riley.


On Maclean's Crime Stats Report

Always, I'm discouraged when I read stuff like that because everybody works so hard and there's just so many good people that are putting a lot of time into making Chilliwack safer.

If you're looking at the bright side of things of course, we moved from 6th place down to 9th place and the other bright side was that they were looking at two-year-old stats, so in the meantime, the stats have changed since the report actually came out and they said you know that we had an increase in property crime and as a matter-of-fact, we had a 2 per cent decrease in residential property crime over the year from last year to now and we also had a 22 per cent decrease in business crime and since the actual article was written there was a 36 per cent decrease in business crime, like breaking into businesses.

So we're doing pretty well, those B&E's are a concern to us because we were top in Canada for that and tome that signals that there's a deeper problem. The reason why people break into your homes is usually to fuel a habit that they may have and so we're trying to work really hard to make sure that people with addictions in our community get all the help they need, when they need it and so we're working hard on that front.

But, yeah you know I have to say, Scott, that there have been some reports, one of the coolest things ever, I went up into the RCMP station and looked at how they gather stats and how they use them. This is how they found the notorious "Piggy Bank Robber". They knew that he was in the Sardis Park area, they knew that he was targeting during a certain time of the day and on certain days of the week and they just targeted all of their resources in that area and caught the guy and a neighbour reported another one that was breaking in, so you know usually its one or two people that are doing all of that damage so its really nice to get those guys off the street.

(An article like the Macleans story) doesn't give us any time to put our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing is occurring in our city.

Its part of the problem of our city getting bigger, I mean we have 80,000 people in our community now and while the majority of them are good folk, and I want to say, God-fearing people, on the other hand there are some who just make life a little bit difficult.

On Transit

Well you know we are on the same page surprisingly and I know that sometimes its a, I hate to say a media-spin thing.

There's a few issues, so maybe let me just talk about light rail for a minute.

The biggest issue for me, everyone will know that I'm a fairly cautious mayor. I know that we need to be fiscally responsible. We need to do the best with the money that we get from people, that we're in the middle of a recession right now, that we're looking after the people who make $8 an hour and are trying to do two jobs and get their kids to school and get them winter coats and boots, I'm very aware of that, so, to run in and make a decision without having all of the facts, could be a very costly decision, to me it's just a little bit premature.

So what I've asked is for more time basically, because we've commissioned a study that cost us, 'us' being the taxpayers right through the Lower Mainland $400,000.

The Fraser Valley Regional District got funding from the Ministry of Transportation and from BC Transit (to do this) and this $400,000 study will talk about what is the best way to move people from point A to point B. It also pinpoints how many people use transit right now, how many people they project will use transit in the future, things like how much money comes in from gas tax, how much has actually been folded back into the provincial coffers, all of those kinds of things. Now, out-of-the-blue, the premier said that they were talking about a rapid transit bus and he said. I was sitting in the meeting when he said it, coming from Langley to Chilliwack, so I don't know what is in his mind for Rapid Bus whether that means the province is going to fund that or whether it means that he'll just say to us 'You shall, if you want it, you should do this.' I don't know how the regional districts will work together for funding.

Funding is a really important aspect and the other part of this is that people need, well people do understand that you can build something but looking after it is really what takes the money, the operational cost of it.

So I just want to make sure, I'm walking in cautiously. I'm not saying no. If it were a perfect world we'd have perfect solutions to transportation all the time.

Right now what we know about transportation in the city of Chilliwack is that on any given day here, only 13 per cent of our residents go outside of the community to work, play, shop, do anything like that, 13 per cent.

Of those, 10 pre cent of the trips are to Abbotsford. So only 3 per cent go out beyond Abbotsford to Langley and only 1 per cent goes across the bridge.

So those are kind of important stats when you're thinking about funding a railway system which the study says it costs $1-million a kilometre but doesn't address the operational costs. That's important.

Busing, that's another thing as well and we just had the university students come and present to us this 6,000-page petition.

It's great. Those guys worked so hard to make a difference and they worked really hard to get the U-Pass together, first of all, so that they could travel unlimited on our bus system and if they're in Abbotsford they can go back and forth to Mission.

These guys are good. They were able to negotiate with our staff a gym membership so they can go to the Leisure Centre for free with their U-Pass which I think is fantastic.

But they really want transportation to go down the highway to link the campuses so we're going to be talking with the province because the province pays 50 per cent of transportation, the riders only pay 25 per cent the City pays 25 per cent.

There maybe also an opportunity for us to negotiate with the university because this will be a service that could directly affect and service their students. So, yeah we're on the same page.

Arts and Culture Centre Open House

I'm so excited about this. You know honestly, Chuck Stam was the first one that asked 'When are we going to have an event that we just open up the doors and invite everybody to come?' I thought, 'Oh yeah, lets do that.'

(Free admission) and you're going to get free drinks, cake and there's all kinds of things going on. So Saturday, if people come down to the Leisure Centre at 11am we're going to have a little bit of a ribbon-cutting, we're going to have a very little speech from the Mayor, just a tiny one.

There's going to be so many fun things for the kids to do, so bring your kids and bring your camera because the whole cast of Mother Goose is going to be there and you'll have an opportunity to have your pictures taken with them. There's going to be a scavenger hunt and ever kid who participates, I don't think it's for the big people, but every kid that participates gets a surprise. There's going to be music from the Community Band. They're going to be able to get on the stage and go behind the scenes of Noises Off and see how it actually works and how all of the props appear and magically disappear.

They're going to have an opportunity to do all of that and more but the best part of that is the cake. So no matter what you think about culture there's always cake.

This is going to go until 2 o'clock so everybody is going to have an opportunity to come and go. You don't have to be there right away if you don't want to but I'd love to have you cheering on as we cut another ribbon at the Cultural Centre.

Some of the (upcoming) shows are sold out. It's absolutely amazing. Like if you wanted to go to the Beatle's production you couldn't, even if you wanted to and there's some that are really selling out quickly.

I know that the Rankin Sisters are coming in December to put on a Christmas show which is quite phenomenal. There's all kinds of things happening down there and they can actually go... there's a Facebook page, there's a web page. There's all kinds of stuff connected to the Cultural Centre. They're going to love it and they can go to dance classes and they can go to pottery classes and paint.


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