The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION
By: Grant Burr
Posted: 08/22/2018 9:00 AM
Rocco’s Pizzeria owner Damian Penner says a career in the hospitality industry has given him the experience to excel in a city councillor role.
"Being a small business owner, in hospitality specifically, I feel you’re always finding the balance between managing the business and managing what the people are really looking for," he said.
Penner released a four point platform earlier this month which advocates efforts to welcome middle class job creating businesses, focusing on affordable multi-bedroom dwellings for families, maintaining or reducing taxes while keeping up with infrastructure and service needs, and increasing entertainment options for youth and young adults.
"My core mandate is to really start building Steinbach," Penner says. "In terms of business growth, we need to see more."
Penner says council has a role to play in creating the groundwork for business to come to Steinbach.
In city he says is known for its fantastic workers, Penner says that council needs to do more than has been done in recent years.
"We have a bit of a council that hasn’t been the most business friendly in allowing new businesses to build and open," he says.
"It’s city council giving clear directive to administration saying we need to attract new business, we need to all sit down and be on the same page, rather than putting up roadblocks...how can we help you to get new business going."
He wants to see how council can have a role in creating more housing options for families.
"Housing has gotten to the point that there is so little available, that they can charge what they want," he says.
He says he’s already reached out to others to see how changes can be made.
"I’ve sat down with a few of the developers, as well as a few of the larger business owners, the movers and shakers I call them of the community," he said.
"Not necessarily taking everything they say as truth and canon, sitting down and saying what are your thoughts and where are you wanting to move with this."
When it comes to taxes, Penner says for the amount of services they get, citizens taxes are close to where they should be, but on the high side by about $500,000.
"As a small business owner, where I make my living $20 at a time, I know all about having to look at costs, evaluate, and without reducing services, be able to find alternatives to where we need to be," he said.
"I fully intend to be very involved with department heads and going through, sitting down, and saying we need to trim the fat."
He suggest that the city go through a regular re-evaluation of expenses and costs, something he does with his business every six months.
Finally, Penner is interested in pursuing more entertainment options for young people. Entertainment is simply something to do, Penner says.
"If we want to do something for entertainment, chances are we’re going to the city. For a quick supper we’ll be in town but aside from that we’re going to the city for an evening event or entertainment."
He says Steinbach needs to focus on younger generations, something he says it could learn from looking to Winkler.
"They are an old town that has really pushed some new ideas…this isn’t just a stagnant town that wants their pillars of MJs and pillars of Smittys. We want to bring in new exciting forms of entertainment," he says.
When it comes to larger facilities, Penner says he support recreation but that the next council needs to develop a strong plan for implementation.
"It’s been this talk for eight years," he said.
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