Gerry Thiessen is running for his fourth term as mayor of Vanderhoof. Heather Norman photo

Gerry Thiessen running for fourth term as mayor

Thiessen wants to work on diversifying the economy and improving housing, among others

Gerry Thiessen is seeking his fourth term as mayor in the upcoming Oct. 20 municipal election.

Thiessen, who has been the mayor since 2008, was born and raised in Vanderhoof and says his children and all 13 of his grandchildren still live in town. “It’s home.”

He has also been a real estate agent for the last 40 years. In that time, Thiessen has served as the president of the Northern B.C. Real Estate Board, the British Columbia Real Estate Association, and the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Thiessen says he was active in the town long before he was first elected mayor. He was involved with the Rotary Club and the 4H club, as well as volunteering with his kids’ schools.

He says it was always his intention to take on a position of responsibility in the community, so when he was encouraged to run for mayor in 2008, that’s exactly what he did.

Thiessen says that his time in office has led to some pretty significant changes in the community. “I really sensed at that time there was a real desire to change our focus within the community and so we’ve worked that to see that through.”

Some of the accomplishments in his time as mayor include building the new pool, a new community centre, the implementation of a new water system, including new water tower and piping, the creation of a community foundation, and a community garden. Thiessen says that as mayor, he doesn’t do any of these things alone; if anything, his job is to “co-ordinate” these projects.

In his time as mayor, Thiessen says the district has paid off its debt, as well.

“We’ve basically gone three years without debt,” says Thiessen. “We went to referendum on the swimming pool and asked for four million dollars to build the pool. We were able to only have to borrow three [million], so that’s the only debt, basically, that the community is carrying at this point.

“We have a few small leases on some of the vehicles and equipment, but [the pool is] the only substantial debt we have. We’ve done everything on a cash basis.”

Looking to the future, Thiessen has five key issues he would like to work on in a new term. The first is economic diversification.

“We know the pine beetle has come through. What has made us strong up until now, forestry, is not going to be the same as it was,” says Thiessen. He believes the first thing the district should do is support the local forestry industry in anyway it can, by making sure the sector utilizes all of the timber and fibre they can to keep forestry jobs local.

He would also like to further support the mining and manufacturing industries in the community and to encourage job growth within them in an effort to diversify the local economy.

Thiessen says the next key issue is housing. He says the council is currently working on three different housing projects in the district that will address issues with both rental housing and seniors housing.

The third issue he thinks will need addressing is the environment. Thiessen says both the management at the Nechako Reservoir and gas station brownfields (abandoned or derelict commercial properties) will need to be looked at in the upcoming term.

“We need to take care of our youth and make sure that these gas station brownfields are re-developed and also that our river is as healthy as possible,” says Thiessen.

His next area of concern is recreation.

He says in order to attract new residents to town, they need to offer more amenities like the swimming pool. He adds that once people settle in, they’ll learn about the joys of things like cross-country skiing or skating, but to draw them in, the district needs more options. Thiessen says this could mean more trails and parks, but that it’s important to make sure they are accessible to people.

And finally, Thiessen thinks the next term will require finding new ways to encourage the growth of local businesses, in order to maintain a healthy local economy.

At the end of the day, Thiessen says: “I love the town. My family is here. That’s the reason I’m [running for re-election]; I’m now at a stage in my career where I can dedicate really sincere time, even more than I have, and still be a good grandpa and a great mayor.”



newsroom@ominecaexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Click here to read more of our municipal election coverage

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Over 2,000 people used the pool in the first 2-weeks

Lifeguard training course needs a minimum of six people to register before Feb. 21

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Let’s talk about mental health

Jordan Marshall Memorial Hockey tournament to be held Feb. 22 - Feb. 24

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

Most Read