Councillor Keith McGrath is seeking re-election for Ward 1 in the upcoming municipal election.
On Thursday, he announced his decision at the Golden Year’s Society stating he wants to continue representing the “ordinary family people.” He was first elected to council back in 2013 and before that – he served four terms with the Fort McMurray Catholic School Board.
Despite his experience and support for a possible mayoral run, McGrath tells Mix News for the time being, he would serve better as a councillor.
“It’s not the right time for me, not in my life – professionally – and I believe you can be just as effective as a councillor. Maybe four years down the road I could possibly look at that position.”
McGrath was quick to point out the success from the past council, especially around the rebuild. This includes adding temporary access road, permanent egress roads, and holding over 200 information sessions.
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He notes there were many challenges from the wildfire, the downturn in the economy, and other issues such as fly-in-fly-out.
“You’re not going to make 100 per cent choices all the time, you can sit back and do nothing or you can make a tough decision that not everybody is going to be happy.”
When it comes to flying workers directly to site, McGrath says the region needs to implement a camp tax to encourage more people to live in Fort McMurray and surrounding communities.
“The revenue from the camp tax goes directly back to the some of the social profits. “Nobody wants to be flying in and flying out away from their families so what we have to do is make the community so people want to come and live here.”
As for Bill 21 and Bill 8, he says the region needs to manage change and work better with industry.
Wednesday night, council approved a potential 10-year transition plan to help ease into the 5:1 tax ratio. This includes getting the municipality and industry to partner on making a joint submission to the Government of Alberta for their approval.
McGrath says the best thing moving forward is managing their sales.
“Make sure we don’t have any big increases in taxes, we need to go back and provide the core services, let the private industry do the business sides of things but we need to make sure our community is friendly to businesses.”
If re-elected, he says his main priority will be to build a more cohesive council that works with industry, different profits, and other member agencies. McGrath’s other priorities include increasing pet parks across different areas, support Multicultural associations in the region and review the merits of having photo radar.
“Make a region what it used to be and the energy that we had – bring it back – and be a great community again.”
Residents go to the polls on October 16.