Columbia Valley pre-election Q&A: Week 4

Week 4 of questions for candidates in the upcoming municipal election

  • Wed Nov 12th, 2014 2:00pm
  • News

Columbia Valley pre-election Q&A: Week 4

District of Invermere Candidates

Many businesses in downtown Invermere have closed over the last year. What do you propose to do to reverse this trend and ensure a vibrant and successful downtown business community?

Mayor (acclaimed)

Gerry Taft (I)

Council has supported businesses by keeping tax rates affordable, we have invested significantly in the downtown including the completion of Pothole Park, the re-development of Cenotaph Park, the continuation of the flower program, and upcoming construction of the new multi-use centre. We have also hired a full-time events co-ordinator builds events in the slower seasons.The reality of business closures is that there are often complex issues such as changing retail trends, individual family circumstances, and the size/condition/price of retail spaces. Many businesses did very well this summer — those that are driven and entrepreneurial will succeed. Council can’t magically make broken businesses successful.

Councillor

Greg Anderson (I = incumbent)

Council must use a multi-faceted approach to create short and long-term conditions that will encourage successful businesses in Invermere. Council must: 1) work with our valley counterparts to pursue a Regional Economic Development Officer; 2) continue supporting activities that attract folks into town and the downtown, like the Farmers’ Market, Whiteway, downtown beautification; 3) extend the new ‘Events Co-ordinator’ contract, a staff member focussed on events has had positive results; 4) investigate ways to encourage second-home owners to become permanent residents; 5) retain our current residents. We have to ensure health care and support services are adequate to allow our aging residents to safely age-in-place.

Justin Atterbury (I)

 

Just to name a few ideas: We need to continue supporting our events co-ordinator Theresa Woods so that she can continue to build on her successful events in the shoulder season like Octoberfest and Coffeefest and drive more tourist traffic and $$ here in the off-season. We need to re-look at commercial zoning policy because online shopping is having a huge impact on businesses and we need more flexibility on what the future of a storefront businesses will be. We need to promote Invermere as a satellite office location for IT companies in Calgary — encourage these companies to allow employees to work out of Invermere, which will in turn create a larger consumer base for downtown.

Kayja Becker

 

Downtown Invermere has long been running off the momentum that summer crowds bring. Strengthening ties with the winter enthusiasts that come for Panorama will benefit both areas, as each offers services that the other doesn’t. This, along with downtown markets and focused guidelines on business practices will help channel healthier commerce. Following examples of successful downtown cores such as Nelson and Banff will help us develop a unique shopping experience for our tourist crowds. Though we cannot control the economy, we can certainly facilitate successful business growth.

 

Paul Denchuk (I)

 

Recently I have visited hundreds of Invermere homes and the majority of downtown businesses, asking people how well Invermere is doing. Overall, the feedback is encouraging. On this issue, I have heard three themes: council activity over the past three years to enhance downtown is positive (downtown revitalization and events, etc.); current vacancies are not due to council policy, but are part of an evolving economy; and there are concerns that we may be losing business to the crossroads and online shopping. One important strategy that should be led by Invermere businesses and supported by council is to effectively encourage local purchasing. Innovation and collaboration are key to sustaining Invermere’s prosperity.

 

Al Miller

 

The business closure question is larger than just a downtown issue. The issue starts right at the Invermere District Office. We need to change our mindset on business, and create a more welcoming attitude. We need to communicate with the stakeholders and see where our shortcomings are, and be ready to discuss how we can create a better business climate within our town limits. Branding and theming the town. Inventoring what we have and what would be nice to have to add to the overall variety and flavour of the community. A strong need to be unique. We must, communicate, prioritize and commit.

 

Village of Radium Hot Springs Candidates

 

Does the Radium economy, which relies heavily on tourism and the mill, need to diversify?

If so, how?

 

Mayor (acclaimed)

Clara Reinhardt

I think that every community should be actively seeking out and capitalizing on a variety of economic ventures. Through our community survey we determined that most of our citizens place a high value on the village atmosphere. The reality is that we are bordering the Columbia Valley wetlands, a National Park, and the Village owns no land, making our ability to attract large industry low. We need to ensure our tourism industry is well supported and work at attracting home-base businesses as well as small business entrepreneurs who are looking for work-life balance. I support the Community Directed Funds committee, who are making valley-wide economic development and branding their focus.

Councillor (all acclaimed)

Karen Larsen (I)

 

Radium does need to diversify. Travel and tourism is sustainable when our economy is good, but it does not carry this community through the year. We are fortunate to have businesses like Canfor that help keep small communities like Radium sustainable. If we don’t look at other means to support our full-time residents, our community will not sustain itself. Could we attract other industry by tax break incentives? Could we have more commercial resident areas to support at-home business? Could we have a campus that offers wildlife and forestry courses? This is definitely a topic we need to explore to move forward into the future. I would love to hear what the public thinks.

 

Todd Logan (I)

 

A response was not received by press deadline.

Tyler McCauley

 

Diversification is a great goal, but opportunities are limited. I believe that we need to be better at what we already do well. That means strengthening the existing Tourism Industry. The Village and the Chamber have been working towards this goal for years. Recently they introduced some shoulder season festivals and events that we need to embrace and develop into successful opportunities. We need to explore alternative tourism like an interpretative centre which would include the recently discovered fossil find in the National Park. At the same time, we need fill empty storefronts on Main Street, and that will come with more visitors.

 

Ron Verboom (I)

 

A response was not received by press deadline.

 

Village of Canal Flats Candidates

 

What will you do to encourage businesses to set up shop in Canal Flats

 

Mayor

Ute Juras (I)

We have the lowest taxes for residents and businesses of all the municipalities in the Valley, not having had increases by more than two or three per cent since we incorporated. We have a lot of light industrial and commercial properties available and we don’t require business licenses. Canal Flats still has the lowest real estate prices in the Columbia Valley, which makes us very attractive to young families. We already have been taking steps to encourage business by having had discussions with Kicking Horse Coffee and Arrowhead Brewery about our assets, should they be looking at expanding their businesses. However, we need to be careful that any kind of growth be managed carefully so it will benefit everyone.

Dean Midyette

The Economic Development Plan that I’ve drafted calls for the initial focus to be on light industrial and highway commercial. To these ends, I will enter negotiations with property owners along our Highway 93/95 corridor on the south end of Canal Flats to secure a lease or outright purchase of property with highway frontage. We also need to publicize and promote our desire to attract new businesses, which I will do through Invest Kootenay (a website designed specifically for business attraction and retention), with the local Chamber of Commerce, and through my many business connections I have as a result of my work with the local newspapers.

 

Councillor

Marie Delorme (I)

A response was not received by press deadline.

 

Erin Gornik

 

A response was not received by press deadline.

Paul Marcil (I)

Mr. Marcil was unable to participate in Week #4 due to personal circumstances. Here is his answer to “What is the best — and worst — decision made over the last year pertaining to Canal Flats?” for Week #3: We made several decisions as a Council and that is the key — Council makes a decision on every issue and it is a Council decision if the majority endorses or rejects it, even if one votes differently than the majority. I gave serious thought, did research on each major issue, and lobbied my position to the Council — but in the end it is a Council decision, whether my vote was a yes or no, and I support the result for each decision made.

Karl Sterzer

 

A response was not received by press deadline.

 

Roy Webb

 

A response was not received by press deadline.

 

RDEK Electoral Area Director Candidates

 

Area F

 

The highway entrance and small downtown of Windermere proper are marked by abandoned and dilapidated buildings. If elected, will you put effort into reinvigorating this area?

 

Wendy Booth (I)

 

Street appeal and pride of ownership are important in real estate, but not RDEK. The RDEK does not generally force owners to invest moneys to upgrade their private property. It will nurture the socio-economic growth of the area so businesses can weather fluctuations in local economies. Only 40 per cent of Windermere’s owners are permanent residents. With 60 per cent of potential clients relocating for part of the year, local businesses are challenged during shoulder seasons. The Community Priorities Plan, completed in 2013 by the Columbia Valley Directed Funds, articulates key priorities in support of socio-economic development and reduce the negative impacts at these times. I believe we can work together to achieve these goals.

Andrea Dunlop

 

I agree that the entrance to Windermere can look abandoned, but those empty buildings are privately owned and the RDEK can only enforce building code regulations. Radium was only able to improve their streetscape once they had incorporated. As a regional district, Windermere does not possess the influence nor the funding to improve the highway appeal. For me, an issue which the RDEK may be able to influence is safety. Currently, there are no turning lanes from the highway into Windermere, Juniper Heights and the Ktunaxa band office. Anyone who has experienced sitting on the highway waiting to turn while 90 km-an-hour traffic is barrelling down behind understands my concern.

 

Area G (acclaimed)

 

What are the top three items you plan to accomplish during your next term in office?

 

Gerry Wilkie (I)

 

Area G will benefit from initiatives already on the go — Headwaters Community Forest, Recreation Access Management Planning, Watershed Management, Cultural Tourism, the Trails Alliance, the Columbia Valley conference/performing arts centre. Recently, the RDEK recognized the importance of an Agricultural Plan for the East Kootenay. There is a lot of work ahead in going from the theoretical to on-the-ground reinvigoration of farming in our region and enhancing local food production and security. Specifically in Area G, there are water system upgrades in Edgewater and Spur Valley underway, the ongoing restoration work on the Wilmer Community Hall and rebuilding the rink and ballgrounds in Edgewater.

 

School District Trustee Candidates

 

How do you propose to handle any parents’ complaints regarding a school’s administrative or teaching team?

Area 3 (acclaimed)

Denny Neider

 

This is a difficult question to answer because the nature and severity of the complaint would dictate the approach. Preferably, dialogue between the complainant and administration would resolve the issue. In an extreme situation, it is conceivable that legal steps and/or intervention by the Ministry of Education could be warranted. Discussion and understanding of the issue would determine the appropriate protocol to follow.

Area 4

 

Amber Byklum (I)

When speaking with a parent, we must listen and offer a direction that would hopefully get the quickest resolve. However it is not the role of a Trustee to intervene or to solve these types of issues at this level. By using Policy #2710 the “Problem Solving Protocol”, we can hope that the issue is resolved at the source through meaningful and collaborative conversation. If the issue is not resolved to the parents’ satisfaction, they may then contact a Trustee or communicate with the Board to appeal their case. That is why it is imperative for a Trustee to remain unbiased in fairness to the parent and the staff member involved.

Cory Stanbury

 

A response was not received by press deadline.

 

Area 5 (acclaimed)

 

Rosemary Oaks (I)

The Board of Education has policies and procedures in place to assist everyone with the steps to take for resolving any issues. An important aspect to remember is if a child’s safety is at risk then the issue should be brought to the immediate attention of the principal or superintendent. School District 6 Policy #2710 “Problem-solving protocol” is available at www.sd6.bc.ca under Policies. If the Trustee is involved too early and the issue does go to the Appeal process, the Trustee involved may have a biased view and may have to be excluded from the process. Trustees and Administration are always available to go over the steps and assist parents with their concerns.