In his first attempt at a political seat, Bruce Banman won the 2011 mayoral election over one-term incumbent George Peary. Now, he is seeking a second term with a plan to bring consistency to the mayor’s chair to continue working on the city’s economic prosperity.
Banman, a chiropractor who owns a local practice, was one of two new faces at the council table in the last term along with Coun. Henry Braun, who is now challenging for the mayor’s seat.
Banman says his track record shows that the city has moved forward under his leadership.
“I came in as a rookie, and look what we’ve accomplished in three short years.”
The city didn’t raise taxes this year, the community is safer and city finances have turned around, setting the foundation to work on the economy, he said.
Banman said he looks at things from an open, broad perspective and his conciliatory style is an asset.
He explained that he doesn’t feel council should always vote unanimously, but said often council votes one way and Coun. Braun another.
“If Coun. Braun is elected mayor, we will see more polarization.”
With at least three new faces to assume the empty seats on council, and the potential for more, Banman said if elected, he would take time to talk to councillors and see what their concerns are and what they want to accomplish in their terms.
Banman said transparency has increased in his time at city hall, citing the public release of the city manager’s contract when he was hired, and added that the recently signed contract with Global Spectrum – the company that runs the Abbotsford Centre – will be made public.
“Where we can make things public, we definitely do that,” but he added there are always ways to improve on transparency.
He said the city needs to “look at a better way for committees to report to council versus the current system,” which has already begun.
Banman said his main motivation for running again is to bring economic prosperity to Abbotsford.
Shortly after his election in 2011, Banman announced a task force on economic prosperity. While it was expected to take about six months, the process took two years. Though that was longer than hoped, the plan is working towards the goal of economic prosperity, Banman said. He said hiring a new economic development director – Wendy Dupley – will bring more progress to the city.
“We will start to see the encouragement and fostering of local, current businesses in our community, and we will see the encouragement of new businesses to come here.”
City hall has also reduced red tape, such as building permits waits going from 11 weeks to three, said Banman. He cited the zoning bylaw overhaul, providing simplicity and clarity for those wishing to come here to set up a business or to build, as a success.
The official community plan update is underway, and that will also provide greater clarity for people who want to move here. He added the city needs to start building up instead of out for residences.
An ongoing issue through Banman’s term has been addressing homelessness. As a result of the task force on homelessness, the city is working much closer with BC Housing and Fraser Health, which have the ability to assist with homelessness efforts, he said.
On the prospect of the Dignity Village proposal, he said he told city staff the concept had merit. “However, there are multiple hurdles and challenges with this idea.”
Banman said the number of homeless people in Abbotsford is not staggering. “This is a solvable problem, I think for the most part …”