Entrepreneur, Artist Running for Spruce Grove Council

Owen Garratt in his home studio.

Owen Garratt wants to bring a community steward focus to council.

An internationally renowned artist and entrepreneurial Spruce Grove resident, Owen Garratt, has declared his intention to run for Alderman in the City of Spruce Grove.  Using his talents, Garratt has been commissioned for portraits of celebrities like Gene Simmons, Adam West and William Shatner but now he's ready to bring his vision of Spruce Grove to council.

"My sons are at the age where my lessons of contribution start to matter more," Garratt tells One News.  "What's the best venue to do that?  Well, this election's coming up."

Garratt is a strong believer in a clear and transparent council for the residents of Spruce Grove, pointing to the difficulties of even finding out how the Mayor and Aldermen vote.

"Number one: transparency and communication.  I don't think even the incumbents would argue this couldn't have been better," says Garratt.  "Why are council votes secret?  That doesn't make sense.  People have a right to know what their elected officials are doing and nobody is going to go and sit in a council meeting 'just because.'  The other thing is that communication is sketchy- at best."

Garratt would also like to support business friendly policies should he be elected on council, due to the geographic competition of attracting businesses for Spruce Grove, with an industrial park, the county and Edmonton all in a very close proximity.

"You have to be open for business.  If Spruce Grove is not business friendly, those businesses will go somewhere else, period," elaborates Garratt.  "This is about managing the growth.  There's a whole infrastructure going in south of the city that is in direct competition with Acheson.  Why would a business come here to our industrial area instead of Acheson?  We've got to have solid, crystal clear answers on that."

When it comes to the SEC proposal,  Garratt is sympathetic towards the city's growth requiring more services but feels anything added to the community needs to be a good fit and be big enough to accomodate growth.

"Projections are worth the paper they're printed on.  Any family that's tried to take a swimming lesson, it's tough," notes Garratt.  "If you're going to build a facility- make sure that it's a big enough facility."

Originally from Saskatchwan, Garratt says the Tri-Region coming together on a deal for the Westview Health Centre was a huge draw for his family to releocate over a decade ago, and feels this co-operative approach among the three municipalities is crucial for everyone going forward.

"Overall, I think there's been a pretty good working history among those municipalities, it's an ongoing thing.  Really, most problems can be solved just by picking up the phone.  The more there's communication, there's less assumption," says Garratt. 

On the topic of Automated Traffic Enforcement, Garratt has firm views.

"I hate it, I absolutely hate it, and it ain't going anywhere," Garratt tells One News.  "Here's the reality- municipalities all over North America and probably Europe are drunk on the cash these things provide.  It's far cheaper to slap on another photo radar camera than it is to put an officer on the street."

"If we pull out the photo radar, which everyone would love, the problem is where is that money going to come from now?  That means taxes go up."

To hear the full, unedited interview with Spruce Grove Alderman Candidate Owen Garratt, click here or click play on the file below:

-TS

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