Ed. Note: Twelve years… that’s how long Alan Spacek held the mayoral chair in Kapuskasing. Mr. Spacek recently sat down with The Community Press to discuss his dozen years in office, including the good times, the not-so-good times and what he sees in the future for both Kapuskasing and Northern Ontario as a whole. This is part one of a two-part interview, which will conclude in next week’s edition.

Kevin Anderson


CP: What are your feelings on leaving the mayor’s chair after 12 years?

AS: I have thoroughly enjoyed my 12 years in office. I’ve always been very cognisant of making sure I don’t overstay my welcome.

It is a big commitment, privilege and honour and I believe you need to be prepared to give 110 per cent at all times.

As I got toward the end of each of my terms, I put a lot of thought into whether or not I would continue if given the opportunity by the voters. At this point, I felt it was the right time to step aside.

CP: What do you see as some of the successes of your three terms in office?

AS: I think all of the councils I’ve worked with have functioned for the most part as a team and I’m very pleased with that. I’ve always felt that was important because then all of council feels like part of the process and stands behind decisions that were made.

I’m also very pleased that we were able to bring $19 million of infrastructure work to the municipality. Much of that work was done with a 1/3 contribution on the municipality’s part with the other 66 per cent coming from provincial and federal coffers.

I felt we hit a real turning point, when people started complaining about the number of roads under construction in town instead of the condition of the roads (chuckling).

Other things that come to mind is the CanAssist project, which will really help diversify the town’s economy and the new airport hangar, which will help Kapuskasing return to being a major distribution hub in the north.

I’d also like to say something about my involvement with the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

I had the privilege to represent the Cochrane District on FONOM and AMO. I was FONOM president for nine years.

When I first got on the board, FONOM was not a very active organization. With the board, I feel we’ve helped raise the profile of our area significantly. But more importantly, we created a solid working relationship with our sister organization in northwestern Ontario – the Northern Ontario Municipalities Association (NOMA); we pretty much function as one.

That has been noticed at Queen’s Park. So, when we do go down, they listen. And when we do have a position, they take it under consideration accordingly.

I’m quite pleased the boards of both organizations were able to achieve that.

When I first got there, I’m not sure if I knew what NOMA was, or if the rest of the board did or vice versa.

I think a lot more people know where Kapuskasing is and who we are. That has generated some opportunities, including the CanAssist project and some of the energy projects.

At the AMO provincial level, I had the opportunity to be part of the executive and meet with cabinet ministers and in those forums they’d discuss coming legislation and policy with us in confidence and we’d give them feedback on it.

It was a very interesting process. Sometimes, they listened. Sometimes, they didn’t. Sometimes they told us it was a done deal and they were just informing us of it, and sometimes they sought our input. I enjoyed that experience and I think Kapuskasing benefitted from my being active on that committee.

Another thing from AMO I’m quite proud of is having had the opportunity to chair a provincial committee on policing modernization.

It was a very detailed, lengthy and interesting process and at the end of that, we produced a report that had 38 recommendations on both modernizing and reducing the cost of policing in the province.

I believe it was the most downloaded document AMO has produced to date. I really enjoyed that experience and gained phenomenal insight into the responsibilities we have as communities in this province.