Friday, 19 August 2016 05:10

Former Swift Current councillor seeks a seat again

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Henry Banman loves Swift Current, but he isn’t happy with what he feels is overspending and a lack of communication and information between city council and its residents.

On Aug. 12, Banman  announced at a news conference just outside the front doors of city hall, his intentions of running as a city councillor for the Oct. 26 municipal election.             
Having been a Swift Current city councillor for two terms between 1993-2000, as well having run for mayor previously, Banman has a keen interest in civic politics.
He has attended a lot of City council meetings — all but one since October 2015 in fact — because he wanted to monitor council’s activities. He isn’t happy with what he has seen and has decided to take action.
“My sheer presence there (consistently) speaks volumes on their shortcomings in policies — it can’t be tolerated,” explains Banman who thinks the City is well on its way to $100 million in debt. “I decided I was going to do something about it. (Aug. 19) I did. I received a lot of encouraging comments (last Friday).
“I’m not a fear monger, but I’m cotton-pickin'’ realistic.”
His biggest concern is what he says is the City’s $80-million debt. In his opinion, there has not be a discussion of a viable repayment plan.
“Where is the (City’s credit) limit? We must be on the line,” he notes. “(The City’s) ‘credit cards’ are maxed out.”
Banman has a plan to generate some money with selling electricity to SaskPower. What natural gas is to the City of Medicine Hat, electricity could be to the City of Swift Current, he adds.
He says a lot of money is being wasted. He cites the $1 million spent on an all-weather track at the high school which was built in order to get the 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games. That event ended up being awarded to Estevan.
The track project was approved in February 2013, where 50 per cent of the cost was going to the City and the remaining to the Chinook School Division.
Other unnecessary spending Banman points to is the artificial stone at the new golf course development cost $250,000; an art gallery piece cost $100,000 yet there was no money for the seniors’ centre when they needed $20,000 to fix the group’s roof. He also wonders where all the benefits went to from the World Curling Championships.
Banman also believes there is a lack of available information in the public and a lot of residents are feeling left out in the cold.
“We need more community involvement. I mean who owns this community? City Hall? No, the residents do. Ask the community what they want,” says Banman. “They closed the school and then they’re going to bulldoze them. Ask the community, have a public meeting, get input and feedback.”
Banman says there is a need for more community involvement in the direction council takes.
He says this isn’t lip service as he would like to bring back community “town fall” forums where there is an open and direct dialogue with residents on pertinent issues. That way people can have their say and learn what truly is going on.
He noted when he was on council years ago, they used to do this a couple of times a year.
“If it’s important enough for the City to deal with it then it’s important enough for the community to talk about it,” Banman adds. “Let’s work together.”
Banman is hoping there will also be more open dialogue amongst the councillors. He wants more open discussion with everyone involved.
“Council should not be a one-man show,” Banman says. “In (the last) nine months, I have not seen one dissenting vote.”
Lee Ann Thibodeau-Hodgson, City Clerk, says no official nomination papers will be accepted until starting on Sept. 6  with the deadline to submit being on Sept. 21.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor

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