Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Season One, Episode Seven: Interview With William Choy, Mayor of Stony Plain

William is my mayor.  He's a really very cool guy who grew up in town.  His family has been operating a local restaurant called Bings' for about 30 years now.  I grew up with his brother.

Oh, and he makes a mean Denver omelet.  The coffee leaves something to be desired, but that's the way it should be. 

What inspired you to run for mayor in the first place, William?

The overall community.  We’ve been here for many years; the restaurant has been here since 1970, the community has supported us, I grew up here and connected since I went to school here as well, and I was doing a lot of volunteer with a lot of service organization.

Do you enjoy the work you do as a mayor?

Yes I do. Being part of council and watching how it benefits the community. 

Where do you see the future of Stony Plain going?

Hopefully we will maintain our cultural heritage as an agriculturally based community.  We currently have a population where we have reached peak population in terms of housing, and the council meets regularly to discuss our future in the context of a population boom.  8 million Albertans are expected to live in the province in the next 20 years, and we are trying to lay the groundwork for that.

How can citizens get more involved in the economic development of Stony Plain in a positive manner?

The chamber of commerce has several opportunities, and so does the town office. People can get involved through attending the lunches and seminars the chamber offers, or through approaching one of the various non-profit organizations which support various community programs.

How do you stay sane?

I stay sane by being busy.  Busy with my family, with my community work, and at the restaurant. 

Does Stony Plain have an emergency preparedness program?

Yes we do.  We run scenarios from time to time to ensure that we are prepared.  The fire chief is the head of this program.  

How does the FWP affect the Stony Plain economy?

It affects Stony Plain quite a bit.  We have quite a few businesses that use this program, and we recently had one of our historically important businesses go out of business because of the state of the FWP program. Stony Plain was built by “foreign workers”, and we have a lot of businesses here that rely on them.  I would like to see the program changed so that hardworking foreign workers can stay here permanently if they choose so that they can contribute to the community and be rewarded for their efforts financially and socially.

Have you ever considered creating a trade platform with other towns/cities within Alberta?

There is actually already a trade platform in existence for all of Alberta which requires “Made in Alberta” labelling and special marketing.  But Stony Plain tends to lose a lot of its business to Edmonton, since we are so close to the capital.

How is the housing bubble going to affect the future of Stony Plain?

I don’t think there is a housing bubble.  There is a shortage of houses for the number of people who need them though.  Stony Plain is currently at a point where the population’s needs meets/exceeds housing.  Hopefully, we can attract more building companies so that the needs are met without having to increase taxes and bring the housing prices/rental rates down a bit so that more people are able to enjoy the community.

What can we do to attract investors?

Right now we have a corporate commerce community, and you can talk to the local businesses about how they’re doing.  Last year alone we increased our base by 25%. Shopping locally, investing in the community, and bringing in new ideas. Network.

What is Stony Plain’s contribution to the ending poverty in the capital region project going to  be?  How do you you intend to reach that ambitious goal?

We partnered with the 14-year United Way program.  We are improving the food bank and social services systems here. We are also working with housing organizations for with affordable housing services and apartments, including Habitat for Humanity.  It keeps people from falling through the cracks while we seek to improve the entire system in cooperation with other groups, and our social programs are excellent.  The library, Town Hall, and FCC have information for what programs are available.  Our biggest problem really is that we have all kinds of services available, but people aren’t aware of them for various reasons.

What would you say to a newcomer to Stony Plain?

Welcome.  We have a great community.  We have a lot of services and amenities, and we are very inclusive.  I hope that you love it here as much as I do, and that we can grow together.

copyright November 5, 2014
Rene Dawn Millward

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