After banking 23 years as an Inuvik town councillor, Clarence Wood is going for the big prize.
He announced his intention to run for mayor July 19 in his Facebook group, Inuvik Council Concerns. He’s maintained the forum for several years.
“I figured it’s do it now or never do it,” he said. “And I think I have a lot to offer.
“What I hope to do is bring the experience I have and put it to use for the town. I’ve got a wide world of experience, both in politics and in life in particular.”
Noting the volume of construction now happening in town, Wood said he felt Inuvik had a very bright future, but needed to keep pressure on funding sources to keep the momentum going.
Wood said he has a strong working relationship with much of the GNWT. He described a network of contacts he’s built through his non-council board positions which include chairing the Western Arctic Business Development Centre, income support and student financial assistance appeal boards and 18 years with the board of directors Northwest Territories Association of Communities, including a stint as president.
“I know most of the MLAs and most of the ministers,” he said. “I have constant contact with a number of mayors. So I think that interaction could certainly be helpful, but most of the people know who I am already. It’s not like being new at the table.
“I’m not saying I can go to them and say ‘Hey, I want to do this,’ and they’re going to agree, but at least I have a starting point.”
One project he has in mind is bringing back a monthly newsletter for residents to keep up on what the town is doing. Wood noted he felt people didn’t quite grasp the amount of work the town does to keep Inuvik going. He noted the town spends an average of $2 million a year on utilidor improvements and upkeep, adding the town had secured funding to establish a waste-heat system.
He said the long-needed fixes to the swimming pool are underway and he expressed his hope it would be open by election time. He also cited the work on Chief Jim Koe Park as an accomplishment of his current mandate, eight years after the funding for the project was promised.
High on his list of priorities are expanding opportunities for recreation, particularly for kids and churning up more public participation in town council.
Larger projects Wood said he would focus on include getting an addictions treatment centre built in Inuvik and more money for both of the town’s shelters.
“We’ve got to find stable funding for both the Warming Centre and the Homeless Shelter,” he said. “To me that’s a very big issue. The territorial and federal government are both falling down on their responsibilities in this area. That is their concern. The town helps as much as we can, we donated both buildings, but we can only do so much. So I plan on lobbying hard for that.
“A treatment centre is another thing we desperately need. Again, that’s territorial and federal, so maybe they should get their act in gear. They have no problems planning to build a $6 million shelter in Yellowknife, so it’s time Inuvik and other major centres got something too. I realize that they have probably 50 per cent of the population, but we all have the other 50 per cent and that’s not being serviced properly. And that’s going to take someone going to Yellowknife and banging his shoe on the desk and getting us heard.”
He said the town needed to make sure its infrastructure was up to the task when the next burst of economic activity comes North.
“We’re in a down right now, but I think it’s on the way back up,” he said. “We’ve got to get some work done on the roads here. I drive around town and see the roads just deteriorating in certain places, and we spent a lot of money upgrading those roads. That was during one of my previous times on council and we took that as a priority.
“Bottom line is the squeaky wheel gets the grease and I’m prepared to be that squeaky wheel.”
Wood praised the current mayor, Natasha Kulikowski, for her work in being open to the public and said she’s done an excellent job.
With the announcement, Wood is the second person to come forward in this fall’s upcoming municipal elections. Nominations for the race begin in September.