Anyone slightly interested in the upcoming election cannot have been able to miss council candidate Andrew Zwicker. Talking loud and fast as soon as he gets enthused, which is almost always, and with a young face, he clearly stands out.
“I’m an ideas person” says Zwicker who is trying to find creative solutions for every problem. Zwicker does not just come with the ideas; he can follow through and be persistent too.
“I started [the power company Propel Bioenergy] along with 4 other partners 3 years ago and am co-owner and vice-president. We are a startup, and three years on we have our first three projects ready to go. We are in the final stages now of completing a major investment deal to start construction on the first three projects this next spring and summer.”
“Along the same lines was the Rossland Telegraph and Lone Sheep Publishing which started as an idea to increase communication within Rossland and to foster democracy in town, and David, Adrian and I made it happen and grew it into a stable business,” adds Zwicker.
During his time at the Rossland Telegraph he sat in on multiple council meetings. “I went to 150 meetings and then I stopped counting. It was like I was on council but I couldn’t say anything”.
He learned the ways and language of the council and also realized where he wanted to make a difference.
He explains that with broadband in town, the city will be able to reach out to companies and bring them into Rossland. Instead of waiting for businesses to find us we will be able to show them what we have to offer.
“The rent is cheaper here” and that together with a fun lifestyle, according to Zwicker, would make Rossland attractive for businesses.
Zwicker, who works with KAST, says that what takes him 4-5 minutes to work with on Nelson’s fiber takes him a day in Rossland, when he works with large files online. Apart from bringing businesses into town he wants to help technology companies to grow and make sure they are able to stay in Rossland. Some current companies, now have “no choice but to move to Trail” because of the poor Internet connection.
To promote business growth, Zwicker adds, good communication is crucial. The city can ask businesses how to help. If the city can make it easier for companies to grow and be sustainable we will get a vibrant downtown. Another idea is to bring in more commercial light industries into town.
Communication can also solve the regional recreation issue. Both Trail and Rossland will have new mayors and many new faces will be seen on council, something that Zwicker believes will help with building new respectful and functioning relationships. His idea to bring the Rossland and Trail councils closer is to start on a friendly basis with a dinner or lunch and become friends before dealing with problems. He wants to start with the swimming pool issue.
According to Zwicker 40% of the visitors to the Trail pool used to be Rosslanders, before the rates for Rosslanders rose. Which means that the pool lost 5% of their business. Zwicker’s idea is to promise Trail that Rosslanders will start using the pool again if the rates go back to being the same as for Trail residents. If the Trail swimming pool does not get as much more money as promised, Rossland city will pay the excess money. “It’s a win win situation” wherein both Rossland and Trail will profit from the agreement.
For the regional communities, Zwicker also thinks that it will be good if we can share expensive equipment and work together on problems to make it more cost and time effective.
Something that has caught Zwicker's attention in town is the frustration with certain projects. He mentions Amber Hayes and her committed work with the Broadband Initiative and how the frustration when nothing is happening might make her quit.
And he remarks on the Sustainability Commission, which received money from the city. Experts were brought in and gave recommendations to council and then the city cut their funding. He likes the idea that groups of experts can help council out in different problems, to make Rossland better with help from our many experts in different fields.
If Zwicker gets elected he wants to support initiatives from the motivated and professional Rosslanders.
“Rossland is a small city and we can make things happen faster than in a large city,” says Zwicker, who wants Rossland to be Canada’s most sustainable, smart, liveable and fun city. He adds that Rossland used to be self-sufficient with food 80 years ago.
He is a supporter of the Farmers' Market and points out the importance of a thriving organic, local market. He believes that the Farmers Market is in the Top 5 of the economic drivers of the city.
“It brings people downtown, every Thursday,” he says, and the city come to life.
The Winter Carnival has the same drive.
Deanne Stevens of Tourism Rossland is someone that Zwicker thinks brings great value for her money. The Free Ride Bus is incredible, says Zwicker, who describes how vital it is for the city to be attached to Red Mountain and how it increased revenue significantly for businesses.
The Delegation Bylaw is a concern and Zwicker wants to be careful with the legal aspects.
“There’s no point having a council right now, given how the contract of the CAO is written,” he explains. He understands the seriousness of dealing with the matter and wants to deal with the reorganization slowly and wisely.
One point Zwicker has been sure to address is that the seniors, many of whom have lived in Rossland all of their lives but have to move out of town because of the lack of senior housing. He has been looking into building a senior's unit by the Royal Canadian Legion and building it in a style possibly similar to the old International Hotel, which was in Rossland 100 years ago.
A more modern looking project it the skatepark, which Zwicker is also supporting. He has many ideas about how the Emcon lot could transformed into a vibrant part of the city. He has ideas on how to turn a part of the property into affordable housing and part into a splash park that turns into an outdoor hockey rink in the winter. He explains that the ideas have to be researched and funded, but he is very positive about the possibilities.
As a big thinker Zwicker thinks he would fit into council. He can step out of his own biases to see the big picture. And he knows that it is important to not give up when dealing with complex issues.
“I can’t complain if I haven’t tried to do all I can to make it better,” shares Zwicker.
He is running for council because it interests him and he wants to put his rants into action.
If he gets elected he wants to keep being out amongst people. “The council shouldn’t do things and then tell people.” They should be a part of the discussion. He liked the concept of the “Beers and Ballots” event and hopes that it can be continued with the elected council.
And to be more engaged with the community in a less formal environment, he wants to be available on a weekly basis to ski, bike or walk the dog with anyone in Rossland who might be so inclined.