Abbotsford Mayor George Peary will run again.
Peary announced his intention to seek a second term of office on Monday morning and said he looks forward to a busy election campaign.
He knows that both the P3 water debate and the ongoing financial situation surrounding the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre will be key issues.
“One of the reasons I decided to run again is because we need to secure a new water supply for the city,” he said.
The city has applied for more than $60 million in funding to enter into a P3 agreement for a new water treatment plant on Stave Lake. As part of the municipal election, a referendum will be held to seek voter approval to move forward with the P3 project.
“There will be a full public debate, and I will be happy to stand on stage and debate it with anyone.”
Peary supports the P3 option and said he believes a majority of council also agrees with the idea. He said the opposition argument that the city is privatizing water is not true.
“BC Hydro has agreed to sell us the water,” said Peary, adding the city owns it before, throughout and after the treatment process.
As for the entertainment centre, it’s a work in progress.
“There is no question my life would have been much easier as mayor if the previous council had not moved forward,” he said about the initial Plan A projects.
However, he added he isn’t pointing his finger in blame. Peary said the building is here now and the city has to decide how to best make use of it.
“The entertainment side has picked up significantly this year,” he said. “Global Spectrum is finally doing what they were expected to do from the beginning.”
As for the Abbotsford Heat, Peary said it has been a much harder sell than anyone expected.
Peary said he believes the public can look back on the past three years and see what he and his administration has accomplished.
“I just get one vote at council. I’m a mayor, not an emperor,” he said as he praised the work of his fellow councillors.
Crime reduction is the one accomplishment that Peary is most proud of.
In 2009 the city recorded 11 homicides. That number was reduced to four in 2010 and so far, it sits at zero for 2011.
“It’s a huge, significant reduction. It’s no fun being the mayor of Canada’s murder capital,” he said.
He added that most of the other crime statistics are also down from previous years.
Chair of the police board, Peary has played an active role in the Abbotsford Police “Operation” campaigns. He has spoken at schools, warning students about criminal activity. It’s something he believes in and said he has a talent for.
“I can talk, entertain and hopefully educate.”
Another accomplishment he points to is the more than $100 million in funding that has been received from the federal and provincial governments to help establish infrastructure. The McCallum and Clearbrook interchange projects, along with the improvement to the Abbotsford International Airport has the city “well positioned for the next 20 or 30 years.”
Improvements in social programs is another aspect of his administration that Peary take pride in.
Examples include the creation of the Harmony Flex townhouse development on McKenzie Road, which allowed lower income families to purchase a home, including a basement suite designed for people with disabilities; a new apartment complex for homeless men, to be run by the Kinghaven/Peardonville House Society; and a 41-unit supportive housing project for women and their children.
He also noted the creation of the Campus of Care, which includes Canuck Place, the Abbotsford Hospice Society and Matthew’s House.