A running tradition in previous Powell River Peak year-end issues has been to highlight one major story as Newsmaker of the Year. This time around, editorial staff decided to take it one step further and name a person of the year as well.
The purpose for the award, which comes with neither plaque nor cash prize, is not to honour someone for good work or how highly their fellow residents regard them, but for how much impact that person had during the past year; for good or for ill.
This year, the Peak is naming City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa as Person of the Year.
In some cities and towns, these choices are based on public surveys or even scientific polling, but not here. This comes from a year of news reporting on what happened in Powell River.
Simply put: it is just our opinion. Here’s why we chose Formosa.
From calling for the city to take over its ferry service from BC Ferries, to advocating the provincial government to remove taxes from the sale of industrial electricity in an effort to make operating the paper mill more viable, Formosa has shown, despite the fact that some regard him as a pie-in-the-sky politician, that his heart is in the right place and he is far from a do-nothing mayor.
Ask anyone who works with Formosa and they will attest to his work ethic.
City councillor Jim Palm, one of Formosa’s strongest supporters, has been on council with the mayor since 2008.
“No one realizes what the guy is about and how tirelessly he goes about his efforts,” said Palm. “Dave uses his connections so very well for this community. We’re in good hands here.”
Eight years ago, it became clear to Formosa that if Powell River was going to remain viable as a town, it would have to look at attracting new industry, more people and new money. A constant thread through his run in city politics has been to address these concerns. He has not always been successful, but at least he has tried.
“You have to have the tenacity and the staying power,” said Formosa this summer when asked about his work. “When I built my company, that’s what it took. That’s what I’m doing here.”
Of the economic development projects he put forward in 2014, only the Santè Veritas Therapeutics proposal has advanced, and even that has yet to start. A problem for Formosa has been that many of the ideas he has championed may take years to be realized, long after his term ends in 2018.
Besides School District 47 superintendent Jay Yule, Formosa has been one of the strongest supporters of developing international education as a pillar of the city’s economy.
Formosa was at the forefront of supporting an application to the BC Agricultural Land Commission to have agricultural land taken out of the provincial reserve to allow for the potential building of Sino Bright’s international school campus in Powell River. That decision failed to go the way the mayor wanted, but he said he does not plan to let the deal fall through.
In 2016, with two years left in his term, Formosa has yet to indicate whether he will run for re-election. He has said, however, that he has been away from running his businesses for too long.