10 Questions for Mike Bachiu

Moose Jaw has a by-election scheduled for October 17th.

The purpose of the by-election is to fill a few vacancies. One of which is a board seat for the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Separate School Division and the other is the one we will be addressing here. To fill the City Council position left behind after long serving Don Mitchell's resignation.

We fielded 10 questions to the candidates that we believed residents of Moose Jaw would want to hear answered. Some of the questions are tough and policy driven, others are lighter and meant to expound on the candidates character, desires and personality. What follows, we hope, is a guideline Moose Javians can go to when deciding which candidate would best represent them.

10 Questions for Mike Bachiu

 Mike Bachiu

Mike Bachiu

1. Tell me about yourself: do you have a family? what do you do for fun and what do you do for a living?

I have three amazing adult children.  Two attended school in town at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and one currently attends University of Regina

I travel quite a bit, I spend time with my family and with my dogs.  I enjoy reading, watching TV, playing guitar and checking out all of the great places there are to eat in town.  I also rebuild and refurbish vintage arcade machines.

Why do you want to be a city councillor?

With my work supporting people of varying abilities, I’ve learned that the people of Moose Jaw are incredibly accepting and supportive of people, no matter what their disability may be.  Our infrastructure, however, has a long way to go to catch up, and many people seem to feel that their City doesn’t care for them.  I want to help to be the microphone for people instead of their voice, and effect changes by working with and bringing together the necessary people.

What qualifications do you to have that would convince people you are suited to take on such a position?

As a regular face at City Council meetings, I have a good working knowledge of how things get done in our Municipal government.  I’ve also sat on the South Hill Community Association and the City’s Special Needs Advisory Committee for the past two years, which has given me a lot of experience working with our elected officials.  I’ve worked with the Provincial Government and local non-profit organizations to find creative solutions to accessibility, support, and financial challenges.  In my years working with non-profit agencies, I’ve certainly learned how to stretch a dollar as far as possible!  I also have a lot of experience mediating and advocating for people, and I believe in a diplomatic and collaborative approach toward challenges.

What is your vision for Moose Jaw?

Moose Jaw is a wonderful City with a small town feel.  Unfortunately, despite our size we have some challenges often only faced in larger cities.  Drugs, violence and vandalism appears to be an increasing problem in many areas of the city despite our amazing Police force, and the frequent and sizable tax and water bill increases are making many people feel like they’re getting further and further behind.  We need to recapture that caring community feeling.  We need to encourage commercial and industrial growth so that we can increase the number of high-paying jobs in town while spreading the tax base out more so that people have more money in their pocket at the end of the day.  We need to promote Community involvement and discussion regarding Municipal matters such as waste management strategies.  We need to invest in our emergency services; they do amazing work and are always there when we need them.  We need to be committed to supporting them as well.  I want Moose Jaw to be an inclusive community that welcomes all with compassion and understanding.

There are concerns there is too much secrecy at City Hall and in Council. What, if anything, would you do to make things more transparent?

While everybody would of course like to know what the City is doing at all times, the reality is that when there are personnel issues, or potential land or business deals, information can’t be shared for obvious reasons.  While personnel issues aren’t always a sign that all is well, I’m optimistic about meetings when potential new businesses coming to town are being discussed.

I believe that the City has made huge strides toward providing more information, and their new Communications Manager is definitely doing a great job in that respect.

I feel that, more than simple transparency, the people of Moose Jaw want more engagement with City Hall; to know WHY certain changes are happening instead of simply being told that they must now comply with new rules.  I love strategies like this carried out through Community Information sessions which could be simulcast online for those unable to attend but wanting to be part of the discussion.

At the present time the City is involved in a major infrastructure upgrade which caused problems for many High Street West businesses. What would you do to ensure this never happens again?

The High Street closure was one of those things that we all just couldn’t believe was still going on every time we went to turn down that street.  In fact, I believe that since everybody had to change their driving habits around that area, it’ll likely take quite a bit of time until it’s “business as usual” back on High Street.

I’m certainly no engineer, but I feel that higher Municipal oversight on some of these projects would be beneficial to ensure that mutually agreed upon standards and timelines are met, and that neither side changes plans partway through.  Stakeholders should be well informed about the work in their area and expected timeframes so that they can make changes to operation as they see fit.

What, for you, should be the number one priority for the City? And what would you like done to achieve it?

Slowing the large annual increases to property taxes and water bills.  If people have less money to spend, then there’s less money being spent supporting our businesses and community.  While we may be paying less than other cities, this certainly shouldn’t be a race to catch up!  We need to bring industrial and commercial investments to the City to help ease that tax burden on residents.

I also believe that our transit system is over-subsidized because it’s under utilized.  Our paratransit system is overburdened while our regular transit busses drive around nearly empty at times.  I believe that we should catch up with the times and have a transit app which would allow people to know where their bus is through the existing GPS systems already in our busses.

With the referendum against the Cast Iron Local Improvement Program only valid for three years would you be in favour of reintroducing a similar program when that time limit expires?

I would not be in favour of re-introducing the Cast Iron Local Improvement Program.  I don’t feel that it is fair that people living in older areas of town should have to shoulder the cost of replacements at such a high rate.  To me, it looks like kicking someone when they’re down if you’re telling someone who currently has water issues that they also have to take on a large financial burden too.  Let’s be neighbourly and community-minded; we should share the cost.

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What are your views on the ward system?

Even though Moose Jaw is small, I am in favour of the Ward System.  As a taxpayer, I would find satisfaction in knowing that the Councillor in my area is experiencing the same neighbourhood issues as I am when I’m addressing the concerns with them.  I’m certain that the day-to-day challenges of people living in the downtown area are much different than people on South Hill, so why doesn’t each area have its own representative?

What do you think about economic development for the City? What type of industries would you like to encourage here?

With the development of the Global Transportation Hub, Moose Jaw could be in a position to explore brand new opportunities with respect to overseas manufacturing and resources.  I believe, however, that farmers are the lifeblood of our province, and would like to see further development in agricultural industries.