Smithers election: Taylor Bachrach

Incumbent Mayor Taylor Bachrach's response to 14 topics.

  • Oct. 17, 2018 12:00 a.m.
Taylor Bachrach

Taylor Bachrach


My family and I moved to Smithers 13 years ago, drawn to its character, friendly people and outdoor opportunities. We wanted our kids to have a rural upbringing in northern BC similar to the one I had.

I entered public office in 2008 as a Telka councillor and was elected Mayor of Smithers in 2011. I’ve worked hard to be an accessible, authentic, enthusiastic leader for our town, and I’m honoured to be running for a third term.

I also own and run a small design and website business. Michelle and I have two daughters, Ella (13) and Maddie (11). We enjoy skiing, canoeing and getting around by bike.

I hold an honours science degree in geography from the University of Victoria and a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Simon Fraser University. I’m an alumnus of the 2015 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.

Top priorities on council

My vision for Smithers is to build on our strength as a desirable place to live. In the coming term, I’m motivated to work on strengthening our downtown, including business incentives, landscape revitalization and a new library/gallery. I also want to focus on promoting our airport to additional airlines and delivering better landing technology. Longer term, it is essential for us to fully embrace asset management for our infrastructure. We’ve made solid progress on this, including the recent paved roads study, and we have more work to do to get to a position where we are putting aside enough each year to maintain our assets.


I support the library/gallery project because I believe it will improve the lives of Smithers families and help attract new residents to our community. Libraries today are more than collections of books; they are community hubs that provide low-barrier access to learning resources, technology, and social connections. With the provincial government offering 90-percent funding for projects such as these, we have a rare opportunity.


I believe our downtown is what makes Smithers stand apart from other northern and rural communities. Its success is a tribute to the town councils and business owners who came before us, and who made important strategic decisions. Over the past four years, we’ve invested in public space, built new downtown parking, improved bylaws to make development less expensive, and provided grants to businesses for façade and sign renewal. We also created a new incentive program to encourage residential dwellings as part of commercial development. An important project moving forward is the downtown landscape revitalization. I’m committed to a thoughtful, phased approach to replacing the Main Street trees and other elements. Longer term, I would love to see this design implemented on some of the downtown side streets as well.


Housing is a big issue facing a lot of communities in the North. In my seven years as mayor, I’ve supported the construction of both new rental housing and market housing. The new supportive housing development being built at Queen and Railway will go a long way to ensuring that every Smithers resident has a roof over their head.

I appreciate that earlier this year, the Chamber of Commerce, as part of the Labour Market Network, presented a few housing ideas to Council. Two initiatives I support are amending our building bylaw to allow houses to be built on 25-foot and 33-foot lots, and amending bylaws to encourage more carriage house development in residential zones. Also, I am hopeful that our recent tax incentive program will result in more rental suites as part of new commercial buildings.


Most of the regulations regarding cannabis are the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments. Municipalities are responsible for regulating the location of cannabis retail stores, business licensing, and some aspects of public use. I support a common-sense approach to regulation that both protects vulnerable residents and avoids imposing unnecessary costs or preventing residents from responsibly consuming a legal substance. Education will be an important component of this evolution, and I’m confident in the ability of our community agencies to deliver accurate information regarding health risks to youth and others.


Responsible stewardship of residents’ tax dollars means consulting with residents regarding investment priorities, seeking opportunities to reduce costs through efficiency, and balancing the community’s aspirations with our ability to afford them. Smithers taxes compare well to the average of other communities in our region. In return, Smithers residents enjoy high-quality services and amenities. I’m committed to an open, transparent dialogue about spending priorities, and I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken to better communicate our municipal budgeting process.


Smithers crime rates are stable and compare very well to other communities in the region. I enjoy a good working relationship with the local RCMP and regarding discuss local prevention and enforcement priorities with them. While there are always areas requiring attention, I believe Smithers is a safe community.

Over the past few years, Council has engaged the RCMP and other agencies in a dialogue about street behavior in our downtown. As a result of those conversations, the RCMP recently launched a program called “A Downtown for All,” which involves more frequent bike and foot patrols, proactive community engagement, and increased enforcement.


Over the past seven years, we’ve made solid progress on managing our infrastructure. This includes introducing the new Road Capital Tax and increasing our investment in repaving of roads and sidewalks from $150,000 to $510,000 per year. The recent paved road study shows we need to increase this investment even further, and I’m committed to ensuring this takes place in a predictable, phased manner.

We are also working on asset management plans for our water and sewer infrastructure and have created a new Facilities Replacement Reserve.

One of the areas of asset management I’m particularly interested in involves shifting our focus from construction costs to life-cycle asset costs. This approach shows more clearly how up-front investments in energy efficiency and quality construction result in lower total costs over the life of the asset.

I am part of an initiative called the Northwest Resource Benefits Alliance, which is a group of 29 local governments in our region working with the province to negotiate a fair share of resource development revenue for communities. If this is successful, it could mean additional financial resources for investing in our infrastructure.

10) LNG

With the recent Final Investment Decision by LNG Canada, I believe we need to focus on community preparedness. While some in Smithers will benefit from some the economic aspects of the project, we must also consider the challenges posed by having such a large industrial development occurring in our region. Important strategies will include stepping up our work on affordable housing, working with local social service agencies to mitigate potential social issues, and designing strategies for retaining our workforce in sectors such as tourism and hospitality.


I had the opportunity in recent years to participate in the Business Walks organized by the Chamber of Commerce. Talking with business owners and managers, I heard frequently about the challenges of recruiting and retaining skilled employees – in fact, it was the number one issue they identified. The solutions to this challenge are complex, and require a community-wide approach. Housing is often identified as a key factor, as lower income employees can find it difficult to secure affordable accommodation. As mayor, I’m committed to continuing my participation in the Labour Market Network, where employers and economic development agencies identify challenges and opportunities. I’m also committed to building a vibrant community to which new families from across the province and country will consider relocating.


Municipalities have an important role to play in meeting the challenge of climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. I’ve helped lead the conversation about how Smithers can be a climate action leader as a small, northern community. Our airport terminal modernization project will achieve a dramatic reduction in emissions over a conventional approach. And I’m excited at plans to build the proposed Library-Gallery building to the Passive House standard. The upcoming Active Transportation Plan will identify further opportunities.

Another important environmental issue is air quality. It’s a paradox that Smithers offers such a high quality of life, but suffers from such poor air quality during the winter months. Over the past four years, we’ve stepped up our efforts on this issue. We completed a door-to-door survey on wood stove use and introduced a new, more targeted wood stove exchange incentive. We are working with the BV Lakes District Airshed Management Society on an updated micro emissions inventory. Finally, we successfully advocated to the Minister of Environment to ensure new slash burning regulations don’t worsen our local air quality.

I’m proud to have been part of bringing curbside recycling to Smithers several years ago, which has been a successful, well-received program. Recently, I brought forward a motion to have staff investigate the feasibility of expanding this program to apartment buildings. The Regional District’s new Solid Waste Management Plan is going to provide new opportunities for not only recycling, but also diversion of organics from our landfill.


Smithers is an active community and we’re lucky to have so many opportunities for sports and recreation. We’ve made good progress on rebuilding the Chandler Park soccer fields, and while the project has faced a few hurdles, I’m looking forward to seeing it completed in 2019. Two other recreation projects I support are the expansion of the Smithers Skate Park and Cycle 16’s proposed bike trail between Smithers and Telkwa.


In all of Northern BC, Smithers is perhaps the best positioned to develop and grow its tourism sector. We have supported this growth by working with local hotels to increase the Hotel Tax from 2 to 3 percent, with 100-percent of revenues going directly to tourism marketing. I am also interested in exploring the potential of Smithers becoming part of the provincial government’s Resort Municipalities Initiative, which does not currently include any communities in the Northwest region.

I’m committed to working with local organizations to develop assets that enrich the visitor experience: trail improvements, river access, signage, and more. Many of these assets are located outside our municipal boundary, but we can always explore ways to lend our support. Finally, our airport is perhaps our most important tourism asset and deserves our focus and investment as we move forward.

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