By COLLIN GALLANT on September 10, 2021.
Brian Varga is vying for a third term on council saying the city is on the right track with budgetary measures and business attraction.
“We need some experience to keep this going, such as accelerated financially fit – finding savings as we work through the budget,” he told the News this week.
“We’re always trying to find out innovative ways to do new things. And we’re looking at economic development as a driver for the city. The businesses in town are just as important as ones coming in.”
Varga launched his re-election campaign early in September, and is the fifth sitting council member to join a race with 32 candidates in total now registered. Deadline for nominations Sept. 20, while voting occurs Oct. 18.
Varga, who was first elected in 2013, owns and operates a landscaping company.
A booster for local minor sports and events, he helped push for the city’s successful bid to host the 2021 Special Olympics summer games. That national-level event was cancelled due to the pandemic, but the city will likely seek the games in 2025.
He previously served as the chair of the Canadian Badlands Tourism board, still represents council on the Tourism Medicine Hat committee and sees potential for “sports tourism,” like hosting major events and tournaments.
Varga has also been the chair of the municipal planning commission and sits on the corporate services committee.
The city budget could balance by the end of 2022 if administrators maintain the current council’s direction to find another $10 million in spending cuts that year, following $15 million in reductions in 2021.
On the planning commission, Varga says, development issues have moved forward.
“A lot of things have changed, and we have redone a municipal development plan (MDP) from last year,” he said. “That states what we want to do and how we’re going to do it for the next 30 years.”
The MDP resets planning standards to consider a more regional approach to community development, putting fewer requirements on localized developers if required items like housing styles, greenspace and other infrastructure could be centralized in the general area.
He says he is awaiting the findings of a parks and recreation masterplan, which will suggest a maintenance plan for aging facilities or spending to build new in alternate locations.
“These are facilities that built the community,” he said. “We need to look at what we’ll do, and everything else, like parks and trails.”