Thursday, June 28, 2007

Campaign Announcment

For Immediate Release

Alderman Bill Given Promises Innovative Campaign in Bid for Third Term

Grande Prairie, AB (June 28, 2007) – Bill Given today announced he will seek a third term as alderman in the upcoming municipal election. Noted for bringing a fresh approach to community initiatives over the past six years, he plans on delivering his campaign through a first-of-its-kind approach for Grande Prairie.

“This is an exciting time in Grande Prairie, and I'm excited about serving on Council. I want to continue to be an active voice for the community,” said Alderman Given. “Some people look at our rapid growth and only see the stresses that are a result. While I recognize that day to day issues like crime, potholes and the cleanliness of the city need to be addressed, I also see opportunities for really positive improvements to our city. I am dedicated to engaging the community over the next three years and working with residents to shape the future of our City."

In an effort to be more accessible to the public while reducing the intrusiveness of the campaign Given also unveiled his plans to integrate innovative new elements into his campaign.

“My goal is to engage and assist the public with up-to-date information, easily accessed online at any time with what I'm calling my eCampaign. For the first time ever, Grande Prairie residents will be able to access information about my ideas, schedule, and the initiatives that are currently underway in the city, at their convenience 24 hours a day. I'll be able to answer questions at anytime with much more detail than could ever be done with a just brochure or a two minute stop on the doorstep."

Some of the initiatives Given plans to integrate into the eCampaign through his website are; a Blog that currently boasts two months worth of articles focused on local issues, events and concerns; Public Opinion Polls for residents to provide feedback; a Calendar of Events and Appointments so residents can plan to meet Bill; an Electronic Newsletter; and a campaign on the popular social networking website Facebook.

“I understand and appreciate that people in Grande Prairie are busy - family time, work and even just relaxing are important, and I want to ensure my campaign respects the personal time of Grande Prairie residents,” said Given.
Given hopes the eCampaign will ensure he is more accessible than through traditional campaign methods and he even encourages the public to call or email him directly using the contact information on the website.

"The views of the residents of this city are important keys to shaping it's future. I am more than happy to schedule a face-to-face meeting with anyone who wants to find out more about me or to talk about the opportunities for Grande Prairie,” said Given. “Most importantly, however, I’m happy to do it at a time that is convenient for them.”
- 30 -

About Bill Given
Born in Grande Prairie and elected for the first time in 2001 at the age of 24, Given is the youngest person to ever serve on City Council. Now just 30 years old, Given serves as the chairman of the Protective Services Committee and the Affordable Housing Building Committee for the city. Active in the community, Bill is a member and past president of the Grande Prairie Rotaract Club, an avid basketball player and volunteer, a board member for the Disabled Transportation Society and an organizer of the successful Luge World Championship at Nitehawk Ski Area. Given runs a business as a Marketing and Communications consultant and is currently working towards his National Advanced Certificate in Local Authority Administration through the U of A.

For additional information, please contact:
Bill Given
Cell: (780) 814-0518

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fire Service Master Plan

It's been an busy couple of days since I got back from our trip "out east"

Monday afternoon there was a special Protective Services committee meeting to have an interim look at how the the Fire Service Master Plan study is going. The consultants were asked to come in and give us an idea of the direction their findings were taking them. It was a pretty timely update given the fact that the County of Grande Prairie is doing their own study and seems to be on the path to creating their own fire service.

I was happy to hear the consultants say that the city's fire department provides an excellent service and is probably in the top 5% in the province in that regard. There was a caution though that a lack of attention and not providing the resources required when they are needed could seriously set the department back.

At this stage the final report isn't ready but I wasn't surprised by at least two of the recommendations that will be coming:

• We need to expand to keep up with growth
• A regional system would be better than competing services in the same area

Like I said no surprise - the devil is in the details and when the full master plan comes back it will lay out the specifics of how we go about maintaining our high performing service.

On a lighter note and speaking of fire service.... our Firefighter's Union is taking on a team of CFL oldtimers in a charity slo-pitch game on Friday at South Bear Creek. Guess who is acting as guest umpire .... that's right. I'm not sure if I'll have the guts to stare down a 300 pound lineman when there's a close strike call!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

While You Were Out - Election Edition

I'm back from vacation and ready to get going! But first a quick plug: Go to Nova Scotia. It was a great time and the province has some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country.

Of course the world doesn't stop when you have a vacation so there is quite a bit to catch up on. Most interestingly there were four announcements related to the municipal election. A few quick hits on that front for your reading pleasure:

Dwight Logan to Challenge Wayne Ayling for Mayor
full story

My Comment:I guess Dwight figures he has time on his hands since he sold his business, the York Hotel downtown, after owning and running it for years and years. He and Wayne faced off in 2001 with Wayne coming out on top. I'm really surprised that he's running on "better cooperation with the county". We meet with the County of Grande Prairie council often and as individuals we all get along great. Their council just has a different philosophy from our council - as a group our council looks to provide services. It seem to me that the County feels that their role is to spend as little as possible.

Lorne Radbourne to Run for Alderman
full story

My Comment: On behalf of the city I attended Lorne's retirement celebration last year. I got to say a few words about the impact he had on our community through his years in the school system and the turn out of current and former teachers was incredible. I believe his dad served on council waaaay back in the day so it must run in the family. In the news article Lorne mentions that relationship building is something that he feels council needs to do. He must not have read my stories about our visits with Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. Welcome to the race Lorne!

Kevin McLean to Run for Alderman
full story

My Comment: Kevin ran in the 2004 election and I remember running into him one day when I was putting up signs in the south end of the city. The news paper article mentions that he'd like to "press candidates to reveal who’s donating to their campaigns." There's no reason why not and I think I'll probably join him in that. Welcome to the race Kevin!

Elroy Deimert to Run for Alderman
full story

My Comment: Elroy also ran in 2004. In the kick off news article he is quoted saying that Grande Prairie is "...a great place to work but not a good place to live." I'd have to disagree and I think that maybe didn't come exactly as he'd have hoped. The city does have it's problems, especially given the huge growth pressures lately and we have to keep working to address those. But, I still think GP is a great place to live and with facilities like the new Cultural Center, Aquatics Centre coming and our efforts to address Affordable Housing it's only going to get better. Welcome to the race Elroy!

So the election is underway, the real campaigning will probably start in September but I'm sure there will be a few more announcements between now and then. You never know, there may even be something this week. I'll keep you up to date...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Away from the Daily Grind

I'm not home from vacation yet but I received this by email today and wanted to post it right away. Olivia is the photographer at the DHT that I cited in this post looking at her great photo essays. If you are in the city and looking for something different pop by the show at the Centre for Creative Arts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vacation Time

As you may have noticed from my calendar on the right, I will be away for the next week. Maryanne and I will be off exploring Nova Scotia. I will be taking my computer and might do a posing but I hear it's a beautiful trip so chances are slim.

So, here's a suggestion for you: Sign up to receive email notifications when I do updates. On the right side of the site, just under the calendar you'll notice the Feedblitz service sign up. I've tried it out personally and it's very painless and I haven't received any junk mail because of it. With the email notification you'll get a note from Feedblitz that contains the titles and first couple of sentences of any new postings.

That will save you having to check back every day to see if I've done any updates.

All the best,

Monday, June 11, 2007

Online Voting

I bank online. I shop online. I read the newspaper online. I vote online... that is, I would if I lived in Markham.

I've been excited about the possibility of online voting over the internet since I saw it at an FCM trade show a few years ago. I've brought the idea forwardto committee to see what we could do to make this available here in Grande Prairie. Unfortunately the Province of Alberta act that governs municipalities (the Municipal Government Act or MGA) doesn't allow online voting yet. There was a review of the act which recommended adding that ability but not until after the 2007 municipal elections.

Markham, Ontario had internet voting in their 2006 municipal election. The city even set up a special website that helped residents understand internet voting and explained the "how-to's". After people voted they were asked to complete a short survey about the experience, some of the key findings from the post vote survey:

"- 91 per cent of those who voted online said they would be "very likely" to vote online in the future.

- One in five (21 per cent) Markham online voters said they did not vote at all in the 2003 municipal election.

- 88 per cent of online voters in 2006 cite "convenience" as their primary reason for voting online

- Markham saw online voting jump 48 per cent from 7,210 in 2003 to 10,639 online ballots cast in 2006.

- This contributed to an overall 2006 voter turnout of 37.6 per cent, well above the typical turnout of 28 per cent for a municipal election."

So until Alberta catches up, residents here can only read media releases like this one and wonder if it would improve voter turn out in our local elections.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

GP in a Nutshell

Jean-Marc Lacasse, the Manager of Economic Development for the city, handed me a new hat this afternoon.

That's not really news, I know...

The website that was embroidered on the back of the hat was noteworthy though:

One of goals in the city's Economic Development Planis to bring together all the Grande Prairie information out there in a concise package. The result is a Community Profile, a one stop resource for those looking to invest in our community, with details on everything from demographics to service clubs, taxes and regional trading area.

The whole Community Profile is here and if you are looking for Demographic Information or Building Permit Statistics there are both there too.

There you go, everything you ever wanted to know about Grande Prairie, on the back of a hat. Thanks Jean-Marc!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

New GP Based Blog

We have a new Grande Prairie based blog ... welcome GPconservative!

It's great to see more local people choosing to enter the fray. In fact, if you know of a blogger based out of Grande Prairie please let me know.

You'll find GPconservative in the Worthwhile Blogs at the bottom right of the site.

Bio-Diesel for the City Fleet?

I spoke to a resident over the weekend who would like to see the city move towards using Bio-Diesel in our fleet of vehicles. He sent me an email:

" ...

In response to the Province's "Alberta's Climate Change" initiative that is underway, I would like to offer a suggestion to this Committee so the City of Grande Prairie can continue to be a leading community in this Province.

Provide the City's fleet of vehicles, including buses, heavy machinery, service trucks, protective and enforcement vehicles, with renewable fuels. Running the City's fleets on Bio-diesel and Ethanol-blended gasoline will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and also provide a cleaner fuel to burn.


I told him that I'd bring it up on the Public Works committee agenda for discussion. I'm aware of concerns about bio-diesel but it might be another tool in reducing the environmental footprint of the city. Other cities have been using the technology and we should be able to learn from them and see if it can be adapted for use in GP. Saskatoon, just sent out a media release today that covers some of the benefits they've realized using Bio-Diesel:

"- reduced fuel consumption (average of 3%); cost savings (just under 1 cent/litre based on current fuel costs);

- approximately 20% less engine wear, which has the potential to extend the lifespan of an engine, as well as decrease maintenance costs; and

- reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 7%."

full release

Monday, June 4, 2007

Senior's Week

I was just at the Golden Age Centre to proclaim June 4th to 10th Senior's Week in Grande Prairie. We get called on to do these kind of proclimations every now and then to recognize different groups or things that are heppeing in the community.

I picked up a calendar of events for the week:

Tues - 1:30 to 3:30pm - Edson Trail Tea at the Museaum
Wed - 10:00 to 11:30am - Floor Curling Challenge at the Golden Age Centre
Wed - 7:00pm - Seniors Fashion Show at Wild Rose Manor
Thurs - 12:00 to 1:00pm - Lunch at the Legion
Thrus - 1:00pm - Bingo at the Heritage Lodge
Fri - 6:00pm - Dinner & Dance at the Golden Age Centre
Sun - 1:00 to 4:00pm Tea & Dance the the Golden Age Centre

Tues - Fri 9:00am to 4:00pm Free Cleaning and Testing on Hearing Aids at Northern Sound Hearing Clinic.

While I was at the Golden Age Centre I had a chance to speak with the Hans the board president. They are having problems with access at the Center and are concerned about what impact the future west couplet will have on their space. The couplet is a few years away and there is some new development that will bring some new sidewalks to the area hopefully but I also saw some room for a simple improvment that I think I'll bring up at our next Community Development Committee meeting.

Pimp My Cart and Other Cool Library Promos

I just happened across this article which mentions the efforts of the Racine, WI public library to engage youth.

"From Xbox tournaments to "Fear Factor" competitions and an upcoming "Pimp My Cart" contest in Racine, libraries in the Milwaukee area are trying harder to reach the elusive iPod-wearing, text-messaging 13- to 17-year-olds.

"The library isn't a cool place to be for that age group, so we've had to say to teens: We need your ideas. Get your friends from school and the neighborhood and church and tell us what you want," said Sandy Rusch Walton, a marketing and public relations officer for Milwaukee Public Library, referring to the system's increasingly active teen advisory board."

There are some very cool ideas in there and it's great to see that libraries are working to reinvent themselves and draw new patrons in. When our new library is finished construction it will have a greatly expanded youth section and more open spaces that will provide some room to try these new things.

I've heard quite a few people wishing for a Chapters lately. I'm with them but the new library has room for a coffee shop too. Soon we'll be able to go to the library for a good book, a latté and a little ambiance.

Maybe Grande Prairie is on the path to it's first Poetry Slam. If that doesn't combat the perception of GP being just an "oil town" I don't know what will.


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