SASKATCHEWAN'S LARGEST INDEPENDENTLY-OWNED COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER



 



Growth, civic services top issues for Martensville candidates

 Candidates for Martensville City Councillor positions (left to right) Darren MacDonald, Jamie Martens, Robert Postma, Bob Blackwell, Marcia Cross, Geoff Baker, Tyson Chillog, Travis Wiebe, Randy Elliott, Darnell Kuzek, Michael Cox (not pictured: Deb McGuire)
Candidates for Martensville City Councillor positions (left to right) Darren MacDonald, Jamie Martens, Robert Postma, Bob Blackwell, Marcia Cross, Geoff Baker, Tyson Chillog, Travis Wiebe, Randy Elliott, Darnell Kuzek, Michael Cox (not pictured: Deb McGuire)

Attracting more businesses to Martensville while expanding civic services and amenities are two goals that all candidates for Martensville’s six city councillor seats agree on.
But they have different views on how those objectives can best be achieved.
Incumbent city councillors Darren MacDonald, Jamie Martens, Bob Blackwell, Tyson Chillog, and Travis Wiebe are seeking re-election in the municipal election slated for Wednesday, October 26.
Six first-time candidates are also seeking the half-dozen city council seats up for grabs. They include Deborah McGuire, Michael Cox, Robert Postma, Geoff Baker, Randy Elliott, Darnell Kuzek and Marcia Cross.
A forum for city council candidates organized by the Martensville Chamber of Commerce (MCOC) was held Thursday, October 6 at the North Ridge Centennial Community Centre.
All candidates except McGuire were at the event in person. McGuire was unable to attend because of a prior commitment, but provided written answers to pre-arranged questions, which were read by MCOC organizers at the forum.
Major issues included business incentives, property taxation, recreational amenities, civic services and initiatives for seniors.
MacDonald said the current business tax structure has resulted in positive growth, and added attracting and retaining businesses is a priority for the city.
“The more businesses we attract, the lower the residential property tax burden for homeowners,” said MacDonald. “Commercial and industrial property tax assessment in Martensville has grown from $14 million in 2012 to $36 million in 2016.”
Wiebe noted that “not long ago, there were cows grazing in what is now Black Iron Crossing” and said the current policy recognizes the importance of a healthy business sector.
Blackwell added some levity to the proceedings by announcing he was “not in favour of a carbon tax” being imposed by the city. On a more serious note, he pointed out that businesses invest heavily in the community.
Cox said population growth is a major factor contributing to commercial and industrial growth, and suggested the city needs to encourage appropriate commercial developments in different parts of the city.
Elliott said while the city should continue to foster commercial growth, it needs to “maximize revenue-sharing from government” and work harder to keep expenditures down in an effort to “mitigate the need for new taxes.”
Postma said encouraging more commercial developments in the city at a lower tax rate “is preferable to having fewer businesses paying a higher tax rate.”
Kuzek suggested that the city could give more of a break to small businesses by “freezing the current tax rates” for business owners for the next few years.
Baker said he was in favour of “revitalizing and upgrading” older parks in the city, and advocated greater support from the city for the second ice surface and multi-use facility initiative by the Martensville Community Recreation Project (MCRP).
Chillog said he favours expansion of facilities within the city’s parks, particularly Kinsmen Park, to encourage “active recreation.” He said the partnership between the city and the school division was key to building the Martensville Athletic Pavilion (MAP). “We need to encourage more of these partnerships,” said Chillog.
Cox, Vice-Principal of Valley Manor School, said additional green spaces and a second ice surface are “desperately needed” and pledged to “work with Prairie Spirit School Division and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools to boost partnerships”. He noted that with two new schools coming on stream in Martensville in 2017, the opportunity is there to “improve parks and green spaces.”
Elliott said the MAP is a “top-level facility” that needs to be used to its full capacity.
McGuire, in a written response read by organizers at the meeting, said recreational facilities need to be “affordable and accessible.” She noted the MAP, curling rink, pool and other facilities are in great demand, and more are needed.