”Basically I’m not smart enough to be dishonest or unethical”: John Greene

Josefin Svedberg
By Josefin Svedberg
November 12th, 2014

You might know him as the owner of the Hardware store but John Greene is much more than that. Born and raised in Rossland he is filled with stories about the town and the ski hill. 

How are you as a person?

I’m ethical and honest. Basically I’m not smart enough to be dishonest or unethical. I have to follow the rules because I’m not smart enough to break them. I love Rossland, I love skiing and I like people.

Why did you decide to run for council?

I have thought about it for a long time and I have always been interested in the local government. I ran a business downtown [the Hardware Store] for 20 years and when you have a business you cannot do anything political. You cannot be political because you sort of piss off half the people. No when we are not doing it anymore I have the time and the interest. And there have been some things I do not like and I will try to make a difference.

I really do not think I will be better than anyone else. I think we have a really good slate of candidates. If I get in, if people want me in there, I will do the job and I will be good at it. If I do not get in I will know that we have a good slate of candidates and I’m confident that we will have a good City Council for a change. I’m really impressed with some of the people that have stepped forward.

What was it you didn’t really like before?

I saw what went on with the project downtown. We still do not know what it cost us. The Attorney General for the Local Governments Report, they say that Rossland was so bad that they jumped in and filed out Rossland’s report before it was even due. And that is terrible. There is a lot of concern that has to be addressed.

How about the delegation bylaw?

That is the number one that has to go. I can’t believe how that even got through.

Did you decide to run because you have seen things you don’t like?

I have seen things I do not like but I have always been interested. I have always thought about it and I used to attend to [council] meetings quite regularly. I believe in public service. I have been on the board with the Museum, I have been president for the Chamber of Commerce for two terms, and I’m on the board with the Rossland Light Opera Players. I’m going to be the stage manager for the upcoming Anne of Green Gables production and will be designing and building the sets for that.

So you have always been active in the community?

I have always been active in the community. I think I have covered the most basis: the Museum is historical, the chamber of commerce is business and the Rossland Light Opera Players is arts.

I was at Red Mountain the first day the chair was operating, I wasn’t skiing because I was 2 months old. I have skied at least once every winter since probably 1950.

So the ski hill is important for you?

 I’m a snow host up there, it is very important for me.

How do you think the relationship is between the town and the hill?

I think the relationship is excellent. It is very important. And there has been many really good things happening like, for example, the Free Ride Bus, they haven’t really tried to put a lot of downtown shops out there. They have tried to stay away from that and work with the town.

The infrastructure is failing in most of North America right now and how do you look at that with the high property taxes in Rossland?

That is going to be a huge cost for Rossland. That is something we will have to be really careful on because property taxes are going to have to go up. We don’t have any plans in place on how to renew it and we have to develop a plan to renew the infrastructure and it is going to be very expensive. It is going to cost money. So we have to be very careful on any other tax increases because that is going to hurt us.

I did a little research on how taxes are rising compared to population and Rossland got honourably mention, our taxes has not gone up any faster than the population rise in the last 5 years. And that is interesting because I think Rosslands population is declining. We are going to have to do some studies find out what has to be done and what it is going to cost.

I am quite happy with the mayor Greg Granstrom who was able to negotiate a good sewage deal. Trail’s idea to putting down a bridge was to me stupid, but it is their money. And it is not costing us any more than putting it across on the bridge. So that is one of the infrastructure things that has been looked after and that is not going to cost us a lot. It will cost us more money but not more than the cheapest plan.

How do you vision Rossland in ten years?

I think it is going to continue doing it on Rossland time. Rossland time is that it grows, but doesn’t grow quickly. It grows slowly and improves slowly.

 I like the heritage; I think our downtown looks wonderful. I expect it to continue as it is going. As long it keeps going and does nott start shrinking. I like the way it is happening.

What do you think about the skatepark?

I am definitely in favour of it but there are a lot of problems because kids that age do not want adult supervision around. Where it is going is good because it is central.

The problem with those things is that they are driven by a group, and those kids are only for two or three years and then they move on and their parents that were behind it move on. And there has to be a plan for succession so the next group and their parents will be just as involved.

Otherwise it has to become treated like a city facility like the swimming pool where there are lifeguards or the arena where there are always people around and the kids do not want that. They definitely do not want that.

Skateboardparks are a real challenge, I do not know about any that have been a real success where 5 years later people look back and say it is running really nicely. Ones that three years ago were used as an example, are now places where the kids hang out to drink, party and be bullied. At that age group it has been a problem for as long as I can remember.

Do you think the skatepark has anything to do with that? Or do you think the kids will just find another place to do the same kind of things?

They will find somewhere else to do the same thing. Some of the kids will be good, skate and use it a lot. But those who do not want to be where the adults are will go somewhere else.

What do you think about the broadband?

It is very important. It is a shame that we do not have it already, with Juicy Studios and other companies could profit from the broadband. And we could attract more. It is important because we have the lifestyle to attract the people that want to work with that kind of stuff, but we need the Internet. I don’t know about Thougtexchange, they are trying to be here, but are they able to be here without high speed?

Do you have any ideas on how you could make that happen if you got elected into council?

Just support it. I realize that if I get elected I will have a lot of work to do, which I am willing to do. I hate being unprepared for things so I will be prepared. That is one of the issues; I know a fair amount on it. I cannot remember the first Internet group that was here but it was being supported by the schools. I cannot remember the name of it but we met once a month in Webster School and talked about getting Internet here within the schools and trying to get it into the houses. So I was a part of that, so I have been supporting it from the start of the Internet.

What other qualities do you think would be good in council?

I’m a Libra, if you believe in sun signs. The symbol is the scale of justice. We take a long time to make up our mind, because we way all of the issues. And once we have all the facts we make up our mind and usually we are right. So I will do that.

And in meetings, how to you think you will work with the other councillors?

I think I will work very well with them. I’m well aware of Robert’s Rules of Order. And I know how meetings are supposed to run. And I have been president of the Chamber of Commerce for two terms and ran meetings. Robert’s Rules is a great way to run meetings.

Is there anything else you want to add?

What we are paying people in City Hall is way too high. The Fraser institute did a study on wages and Rossland actually isn’t that much above the population group but we are paying way too much for what we are getting. Both the CAO and Manager of Public Works are making too much money and no one in charge of the other. We need a strong administrator and they need to make less money. It is going to be a tough one, someone will have to look it trough and make a decision and go through with it.

And Cezary Ksiazek’sproject on Cook Avenue, he wants to put in multifamily housing. I think the city has been too tough on him. They want him to have one or two roads in with everybody parking in the back. They do not want multiple driveways coming of the street because it makes it hard to plough snow.

Well that is the way Rossland is and that is why we have the expensive snowploughing. Are we going to ban driveways now? I support Ksiazek, basically, but I do not know all the details.

One thing you will always hear during election time is that communication with voters is very important and then it never happens. I prefer meetings on the chair lift. I’m always available and I’ always willing to listen and talk wherever. I’m up there [at Red Mountain] as much as I can be, if somebody wants to meet me one the chair lift I will.

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