Pat Rowe wants to be Fort Simpson’s next mayor because he doesn’t think the community has “moved forward enough” recently.
Rowe, who has lived in Simpson since 1969 and is the owner of PR Contracting, explained he’d like to direct resources toward roadwork upgrades, activities for youth, tourism, community beautification, and protective services.
He points to his 35 years on the fire department (21 years as chief), and a stint as town councillor and deputy mayor in the 90s, as to why he’s got the right experience for the top job.
Rowe is running against Sean Whelly, a current town councillor and former mayor. The election takes place on October 15.
Sarah Pruys: What motivated you to run for mayor? Why did you decide this is the year?
Pat Rowe: My motivation for running for mayor is I think we haven’t moved forward enough as a community. I think there are a lot of little things, such as our recreation and stuff like that, that we’ve got to start beefing up so we can entice more people to think about even living in Fort Simpson.
And stuff for our youth, our road system – we’ve really got to look at general services – and maybe some chip sealing and stuff like that.
One of the big things is reactivating something like the tri-council for the Liidlii Kue First Nation and the Métis Local 52, as well as the village council, so we work together as a community. This hasn’t been done, that I’ve seen, for quite some years.
It’s definitely time to move forward and start putting some beauty back in the community.
Could you walk me through your platform? What are some of the things you’d like to accomplish in your three-year term if elected mayor?
I’d like to see a chip-sealing program go through the entire town. I would like to see upgrades on the recreation centre including artificial ice.
I’d like to see more focus put on our staff, we’ve got a fairly good staff with the village, and I’d like to see them have more of a stake in it. Such as, we own two of the nicest ball fields in the entire Northwest Territories, and don’t have a little league program. Maybe we can start enhancing our staff to point toward that a little bit. Minor hockey, stuff like that, some minor stuff for the kids to do. That gets parents more involved, and the community goes around and around.
All of these things would cost money. Have you looked at how you would fund these initiatives?
We’d have to really start looking at something like the gas tax and stuff like that, and how we allocate our money. I would like to sit down with our senior administrative and our finance guys right off the hop; sit down and see how our budget runs and where we can start trimming some and adding to some.
I think allocation of funds has a lot to do with it, and that’s what we’ve really got to look at. It’s no different than running a business or something like that. We have to look at where we need the money, where we can get it… there’s different avenues through government, and other avenues around, both federal and territorial that we might be able to look at. I’m self-expressing, I’m not a politician, but I am a very dedicated Fort Simpsonite as I’ve proved in the past, and I’ll work pretty damn hard to find out where we can use our resources and make it work.
What are some of the ways you’ll stand out? What are some of the skills you bring to the table?
The skills I bring to the table are, like I said, my time as fire chief and stuff like that. I’ve always been behind Fort Simpson 100 percent. I’m not scared to go out to other communities, whether it be in the north or the south, and sell my community. We’ve done quite a bit of work within tourism and stuff like that to bring Fort Simpson onto the map. We’re basically the heart and soul behind the community, and I think I bring that every day I come to work, and I think residents will be well looked-after, as good as I can possibly look after them to obtain that.
Can you talk more about tourism – you said that’s something Simpson has been working on?
I think we could do a lot more, working with investment in tourism on a local level. Maybe canvassing the territorial government to start increasing our roads in and out, stuff like that. I come from a background of when Simpson was in its heyday with 13 to 14 bus tours per year. We haven’t seen that in probably 10 to 12 years. A lot of it is the road systems and stuff like that, and I’d like to work with the territorial government on maybe expediting a Dehcho loop and stuff like that. We have Virginia Falls, I mean, it’s a very diverse area to come to, and I’d like to be able to sell that a lot more.
So what are some of the other issues in Fort Simpson?
Dogs, ditches, and dumps – everybody will run on that. It’s just how we want to go forward and admittedly I do want to see the numbers of what we take in, in taxation, what we have for budgetary, stuff like that. I mean, it would be unfair for me to say that I was going to cure everything before I was able to look at what needs to be done. I think a council that goes in slamming their fist on the table saying, “I’m going to do this and I’m going to do this,” could find sometimes that’s not as easy. It's basically writing a cheque with your mouth that your body can’t cash.
I don’t want to go in as a mayor doing that. I like to be straight honest with people. We’re going to work with everybody in Fort Simpson that we possibly can and work hard on things like tourism, the tri-council, youth sports – actually having a place where you drive in and you say, “Geez, this would be a nice community to relocate to.”
Community beautification, I’m big on. Protective services, of course I’m very big on. I think it’s important to have them running and well looked-after for the safety and the well-being of our constituents and our community.
And is encouraging more people to relocate to Simpson and growing the population one of the goals of the community?
I think it is, yes. There’s a lot of outstanding issues we would have to deal and work with the territorial and federal government. I think they need a strong enough voice, like myself, I’m hoping, to get in and not be scared to mix it up with the territorial or federal government. Not in a demanding, fist-pounding way of doing it, but actually work with people and I think that can be achieved.
Earlier you’d mentioned the gas tax as a way to fund your initiatives. Can you explain that further?
The gas tax is throughout the Northwest Territories, through the communities. So the village, I believe, allocates that, in the way they see.
And again, I have to be brutally honest with you: without sitting down and seeing how the municipal government works, it’s pretty hard to go in and say, “This is what I will do.” I think we have a great staff within the village that I know of, we’re going to rely on that staff to help us through, we’re going to rely on other council members that are getting on, working in a team approach, and setting down our goals and objectives early after the campaign if it’s successful.
We’re going to sit down and brainstorm, we’re going to see why all the councillors ran, we’re going to see what their biggest issue was, we’re going to prioritize everything we can, and then we’re going to see how we can achieve that and work hard at getting those things done.