Simons: Attract biz & promote the arts

Age: 58

Occupation: sr. business analyst with Telus

Years living in Port Moody: 32

Info: www.robertsimons.ca


Robert Simons is making his second bid for council, this time for the mayor’s seat, because he is keen to be part of the decision-making body that will be in power when the Evergreen Line comes through town. Simons was involved in the Port Moody Western Station Committee, which promoted a third station in the city, and believes the Evergreen Line, scheduled to be in operation in 2016, will bring “transformational change” to the city.

With longtime mayor Joe Trasolini bowing out, Simons says he decided to run for mayor instead of council because he believes  he has the necessary leadership skills to usher Port Moody through the first few years of dealing with the repercussions of the Evergreen Line.

“The mayor is one vote in a council of seven but the mayor also has a specific responsibility to work with council to create a vision and a plan for the city,” said Simons, explaining that in 38 years with Telus, he has held several positions that required him to work with people from diverse perspectives. He said he prefers to work collaboratively and would aim to achieve consensus on council.

He says his vision is to create a “true community” in Moody Centre, with shops and services for existing and new residents, and to find a way to improve north-south pedestrian links across the CP Rail line and the Evergreen Line to the waterfront so people don’t feel “there’s a hard barrier to access the ocean.”

His top goal is building a strong economic strategy and as mayor would work to bring three to four new businesses to the city. He believes the economic plan should consider ways to enhance tourism, capitalize on Moody’s City of the Arts brand and attract technology businesses such as resource, tourism and information technology companies, although he doesn’t have a list of specific companies in mind.

He would also like to see visual, performing arts and other arts groups work together to enhance the City of the Arts image. “We haven’t been able to bring them to one common family,” Simons said.

As for how to deal with development along the Evergreen Line, Simons says job one would be to re-open the official community plan and have a full discussion about how much growth is practical and acceptable.

“That needs to engage our attention and that’s not just the residents but also the businesses because both will be impacted in some way,” he said.

Although he acknowledges Moody Centre will likely bear the brunt of growth wrought by the Evergreen Line, he has no pre-conceived notion about development and how much is good and necessary for PoMo.

“We have to acknowledge that development is going to happen,” he said. “We have to manage that urban land very carefully.”

If elected, Simons said he would endeavour to keep tax increases at the rate of inflation but said taxpayers need to understand many factors that go into property tax rates and not all of them are in the city’s control, such as levies from TransLink and Metro Vancouver. Paying for the city’s new $11-million fire hall will increase taxes from 2012 to 2015, he noted.

“I’m not a fan of putting an artificial cap on the [tax increase] number,” he said, but the city could do a better job of communicating to people what they get for their money.

With the Murray-Clarke connector no longer on TransLink’s priority list, Simons said the city has to take a closer look at the route and figure out what to do with it.

While he’s not pleased with TransLink’s refusal to build the connector, he acknowledges that the idea dates back 20 years and should be reviewed. “I believe that the economic rationale is there but what do we really want to have that connector look like 20 years in the future?” The reality now, however, is that the Murray-Clarke corridor is congested and Simons said senior governments should be approached to help pay for improvements.

Simons does support re-development of Inlet Park and believes the more expensive option — two artificial turf fields, realigned entrance and off-street parking — would not only meet demand for soccer, lacrosse and softball fields but could generate revenue, as well. Still, Simons said it would be up to taxpayers to decide if they could afford to  pay for the estimated $3 million to $6 million cost.

He is not an advocate of pay-parking and doesn’t believe it would generate any significant revenue for the city, although it might help manage parking at Rocky Point Park and the city’s recreation centre.

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