City of Powell River council officially received a national award at its August 18 meeting.
Kelly Daniels, chief administrative officer of the Capital Regional District and the BC-Yukon representative to the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) board, formally presented the city with the 2011 Willis Award for Innovation.
The award, which was presented in June at CAMA’s national conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, recognizes the city’s agreement in principle with Catalyst Paper Corporation and the business plan flowing from the agreement.
Daniels told council that the award was one of the most significant awards given by CAMA this year. “Your approach of thinking beyond traditionally established practices and norms and to approach this major problem with a focus on innovative solutions to ensure the long-term sustainability of your community and a major employer is an example [for] communities all across Canada,” he said.
Councillor Dave Formosa said the initiative was a joint effort of council and senior staff. “Our major industrial tax payer in the community and major employer in the community was under significant strain financially, seeing their company trade at 10 cents a share and the paper market going south really rapidly,” he said. “We saw a facility or two may be shut down by this particular group and we wanted to make sure that Powell River was not going to be one of them.”
While all of council cooperated on the initiative, Formosa said Mayor Stewart Alsgard, Councillor Chris McNaughton, and Stan Westby, chief administrative officer, worked closely with him. “We worked together, we stepped outside the box, we took some risks,” he said. “Not everybody is happy about the situation, but when they announced the closure of Campbell River, and we felt sorry for that, but it wasn’t Powell River.”
The city will continue to work hard with Catalyst, Formosa added, to ensure that its jobs stay in Powell River as well as the taxes the company pays.