Walter Jakeway says with him as mayor, the city can expect some big changes – just don’t expect them right away.
“I’m going to shake things up,” Mayor-elect Jakeway says with a grin, just two days after an election that has thrust him into the spotlight. “It’ll be a new adventure.”
His first task?
To assign portfolios to all six of the councillors.
“We want results,” Jakeway says. “They (councillors) need specific tasks, so then people in those areas know who to call.”
His plan is to consult with each councillor and match them to their area of interest. Of course Jakeway has bigger plans, but it will take a while to get there.
“People should not expect great change in the first 90 days,” Jakeway says. “I know the view on the inside is different from the view on the outside.”
Jakeway wants to get the city’s financial house in order, but he thinks that particular task could take more than a year.
“I suspect there are things there that shouldn’t be,” Jakeway says. “The first year will be finance. We need to find out how much money we’ve got, get the budget done early – earlier than last year. They sat there for a week last year, we don’t need to do that. We can make it fly faster than that. I’ve done budgets bigger than that before.”
Jakeway, a husband and father of three adult children, owns his own small business and has served as an operations manager for Pacifica Paper and NorskeCanada mill in Port Alberni, an engineering and maintenance superintendent at the Mackenzie pulp mill and, more recently, a project engineer for the Elk Falls pulp and paper mill in Campbell River.
In his new role, Jakeway says the most important thing will be to clean up the financial situation, in order to be prepared for a municipal audit that is expected sometime in the near future.
“The provincial government has appointed a municipal auditor so we need to make sure we’re ready and we’re not in for a surprise,” Jakeway says.
He also stresses the importance of council to work together as a team.
“We need to get people together and unite everyone on council,” he says. “It’s like a football team. We have a few new players and a new coach, now we need to get everyone playing football. The people there are talented, they’re survivors. I’ll learn from them and they’ll learn from me, it’s a team.”
Jakeway ran an election campaign asking Campbell Riverites to elect a new, energetic council but it didn’t exactly go as he planned, with four of the six councillors being incumbents.
“They’re all fine people – they’ve got more experience than me,” Jakeway says. “I said if people wanted to change the city’s direction, they needed to change the councillors too, but it didn’t work.”
Having said that, Jakeway says he’s still confident he can achieve his goals with the councillors that were elected.
“I may not be doing it in the same way I imagined, but I have their wisdom to help me,” Jakeway says. “Now I need to find out what their goals and values are too.”
Jakeway’s goals include making council meetings a podcast so people can log on to the Internet and listen in on meetings. And he would like to update the city’s website, to make it more vibrant and modern.
He is also interested in taking another look at the Dogwood Street traffic lights.
“Let’s try it for six months, back to the way it was,” Jakeway says. “But that’s just me – council has to agree. I’m not a dictator, I’m just the coach.”
He is also considering putting a cap on the length of council meetings.
“I don’t think a meeting should be more than two hours, that’s plenty,” Jakeway says. “I can take a lot of agony out of those meetings.”
Another priority for Jakeway will be bylaw enforcement. He says he has seen overgrown hedges blocking sidewalks that should be dealt with.
“We need to make sure bylaw enforcement is encouraged,” Jakeway says. “For some reason, it’s not happening.”
Jakeway will take over the reins from Mayor Charlie Cornfield at the inaugural council meeting, Tues., Dec. 6.