|Columbia Valley pre-election Q&A: Week 2|
District of Invermere Candidates
According to the 2012 B.C. public libraries statistics from DataB.C., the Invermere Public Library is the third smallest library in B.C. in terms of size to population served. Should finding a new space for the library wait for Phase 2 of the planned multi-use centre or be undertaken within the next four years?
The District of Invermere (DOI) has a population of 2,955 and provides free space to the Invermere library as well as $90,000/year. Until it was recently increased, the Regional District of the East Kootenay provided $60,000/year in funding and does not contribute to the library capital/building costs. The Invermere library serves the entire Columbia Valley (9,021 people). Expanded or new library space must be equitably funded by the entire valley, not just the taxpayers in the DOI. The willingness of the ratepayers in the valley to fund library capital will determine if the space will increase in the next four years. Phase 2 of the multi-use centre is an achievable goal, Phase 1 is not.
Greg Anderson (I)
A vibrant library always has been and remains essential to a healthy community! Unfortunately, a new library could not be included in Phase 1 of the new multi-use centre as funding was inadequate to cover the additional cost. Ideally, a new library will not only be included in Phase 2, but quite possibly could be ready to commence within the next four years. To meet this goal, we must first determine “who and how” to finance it. Since ~45% of the library’s patrons are from outside of Invermere, it’s important that the RDEK participates as a funding partner to ensure the cost is shared fairly amongst all valley taxpayers. Invermere taxpayers alone should not be expected to bear the full tax burden.
Justin Atterbury (I)
If grant funding came in for a new library in Phase 1, I’d be thrilled and say, “Lets do it!” Our reality is that we have finite funds to build this new facility. Scaling down the main area to allow for a library wouldn’t provide any more space than our current hall. Volunteers built our hall 6o+ years ago with a vision that it would serve a growing community for decades. Rebuilding our hall to the same size so we can expand our library isn’t looking ahead, but rather a knee-jerk attempt to solve multiple concerns at once. I’d rather make our new facility the best possible functioning facility for decades to come without trying to accomplish too much with too little in Phase 1.
The function of a town council is to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality. Prioritizing issues is the duty of council, and decisions made must be beneficial to the community from both a financial and utilization standpoint. Plans for the multi-use centre need to reflect what the community is currently lacking as the primary concern. Seeing as the Invermere Public Library does a remarkable job servicing the community with the limited space they currently have, other developments may take precedence; though community input should be considered as a guiding factor in the decision-making process.
Paul Denchuk (I)
The Invermere Public Library is small, underfunded, and extraordinarily valuable to our region. Currently the RDEK (Area F) contributes $0 to capital costs for the library. The full costs of improving this library, which benefits the region as a whole, should be shared, with costs calculated fairly for each community and area. There is one barrier to this — political will. There should be a referendum to allow residents of the region to decide if they want to move toward a library that can meet communities’ needs into the future. With the support of our residents, we could get funding in place and move forward on a financially responsible plan during the next four years.
My personal opinion about the inclusion of the library in Phase 1 is: “Most certainly.” I have always felt that when we take it upon ourselves to build a community building, we need to include this valuable service. The library is and should be more than just books. It’s a social gathering area for young and old. The library is an equalizer, allowing every person, young and old, rich or poor, the ability to research and learn with no obstacles. We have a strong Friends of the Library group that I’m sure would work tirelessly to fundraise for this venture. It’s time to use our Get Out of Jail Free card, and make the move.
Village of Radium Hot Springs Candidates
What needs to be done to prepare the Village of Radium Hot Springs for the impending privatization of the hot pools, if anything?
In 2012, Parks Canada announced that they planned to privatize the operations of the Canadian Rockies Hot Springs. Now, two years later, they continue to move towards the divestiture but realize that the consultation with all the stakeholders will take longer than they expected. In the meantime, they are committed to maintaining the facilities and supporting staff to ensure that the users receive the Parks experience to which they have become accustomed. As a frequent pool user myself, I can easily commit that on behalf of our council, I will continue to maintain an open relationship with Parks and actively engage in the process once a decision is made.
Councillor (all acclaimed)
In a perfect world, I feel the hot springs should have been operated by the Village of Radium considering it was what this community was founded on. Unfortunately, that will not be the case. I would hope that we take a very active roll in making sure that employment is given to local residents and those who already have a position at the springs would be given the opportunity to stay. I would also hope that we have a voice in how the facility will still be operated as an affordable place for our community, residents and visitors to enjoy for many years to come.
The privatization of the pools has been in the works for quite some time. I believe that we need to press for good communication between Parks Canada and the Village when it comes to any matters that have an effect on the village, be it road maintenance, facility management, rock scaling or burning. Keeping the lines of communication open is vital to maintaining a good partnership with Parks Canada.
For the privatization of the pools, we need to make sure there is a good line of communication with everyone in our area, from residents to businesses. We need to make sure that we preserve the natural beauty of what makes our springs attractive to tourists and residents while hopefully allowing for some renovation and improvements to modernize the pools. With improvements will eventually come price increases — I hope we can stress how important it is for the springs to remain affordable for everyone.
A response was not received by press deadline.
Village of Canal Flats Candidates
How do you think Canal Flats should be re-branded to encourage community investment and growth?
Ute Juras (I)
Canal Flats has always been a blue collar logging town with a lot of emphasis on backcountry recreation. We need to embrace this image and build on it. We should be attracting small businesses and/or light industrial relating to the industry and recreation that we enjoy. Some examples would be a small engine repair for ATVs and boats, wood manufacturing, microbrewery (we have great water), etc. I see the branding giving us an identity that should attract mostly permanent residents who will support local businesses and bring children into our school. A recent survey showed that preserving our small town atmosphere should be priority.
Our rebranding should highlight the rich history in Canal Flats, embody the spirit of our community, and emphasize the abundance of recreational opportunities within minutes of the village. We have the only public boat access to Columbia Lake, one of the best shooting ranges in the East Kootenay, and everything the backcountry offers at our doorstep. We are a community that loves the outdoors, yet none of this is communicated with our current brand. Our new brand will need to capture the imagination of potential residents and visitors alike and will form the foundation of a new marketing strategy designed to attract new residents, tourists and businesses.
Marie Delorme (I)
Canal Flats has never undertaken a branding process. We have kept very quiet about this special place in the valley. But word is getting out! Every year I see more reasons why this is an ideal community to live in and raise a family. Canal Flats has instant access to mountain and lake recreation, reasonably assessed housing (and reasonable taxes), an elementary school, an upgraded water system (clean, great tasting water right out of your tap), an upgraded Ice Arena, an active arts society, seniors club and civic centre. We are close to everything, but far enough away to be able to breathe. Can we brand that? For sure!
A response was not received by press deadline.
Paul Marcil (I)
Branding, marketing, promoting, etc. are really all the same thing — selling our village as an attractive place to investors and new residents so local businesses, the school and recreational facilities can all be viable and grow. The Village must have the infrastructure and a plan in place to manage the growth, so we are able to accommodate new investment in tourism, retail or commercial/industrial ventures. Branding ourselves in only one field (ie. tourism) leaves out the other areas of potential growth. The “brand” has to reflect the openness of our village to accommodate investment and to welcome people — young or old, with or without kids — into the Village.
Canal Flats has many positive assets so a focus on rebranding definitely has its challenges! We are a small mountain town with a beautiful lake, pristine river, amazing backcountry, great agricultural conditions, strong people, and a rich history of forestry. I believe that a successful formula is building on what you are, and not making the mistake of trying to become something you are not. A marketing friend of mine once said after looking at the Village of Canal Flats and learning more about it, that we were the “Gateway To The Wilderness.” This has been one brand that has stayed with me ever since. Although there are many possibilities, perhaps this could be one?
A response was not received by press deadline.
RDEK Electoral Area Director Candidates
Should incorporation be considered for the following communities in Area F? Panorama Mountain Village, Windermere and/or Fairmont Hot Springs. In Area G? Edgewater.
Wendy Booth (I)
Just as all three are distinct in character from each other, so are circumstances as to whether these communities would benefit from incorporation and its resultant local powers. Independence is a primary benefit, however it comes with a price to property taxpayers. A new municipality would undertake its own administration, emergency planning, road and infrastructure services, among others. Generally, municipalities shoulder three times more per capita spending on services than a regional district. Further, to what extent are there sustainable commercial and industrial businesses to help share in these additional costs? Ultimately, incorporation is a serious public debate decided by the electorate.
I understand the frustration communities have with the current governing system. Having mayors and directors from as far away as Creston voting on local issues seems bizarre and ineffective. It is logical to want locally elected representatives making these decisions. It is also frustrating to have so little of the property taxes collected by the province returned to the area. If these communities became municipalities, they could keep the money they collect to fund local initiatives. If more communities were to join a larger municipality, they could share costs and reduce duplication of services. However, there would have to be a desire to incorporate, feasibility studies and permission from the province.
Area G (acclaimed)
As a service area of the RDEK, Edgewater already benefits from a number of typical municipal services; water, sewer, fire protection, recreation, street lighting, with the tax base almost entirely residential. The current residential taxes based on assessment are nowhere near what would be needed to pay for the administrative and support staff and auxiliary services required if the community became a municipality. In 2005, when the community voted to disolve the Edgewater Improvement District and become an RDEK service area, there was some discussion of municipal status. This was dropped abruptly when the price tag was put on the table.
School District Trustee Candidates
What is the biggest obstacle to improving individual student achievement in your area that you want to tackle?
Area 3 (acclaimed)
Every student has an optimal learning style, be it kinetic, auditory, or visual. It is a challenge for educators to meet each individual’s best learning method when class sizes are large and curriculum materials must be paced. The challenge is even greater when students might require other emotional, social, physical or intellectual supports. Adequate teacher training, ongoing professional development, equipment, and teacher’s aides, whether in class or periodically available, are essential. Critical to success also is a strong partnership between parents/caregivers and the teachers and school. This partnership is a particular interest of mine.
There are numerous obstacles that inhibit individual student achievement. Each child has different challenges or hurdles (some have numerous) that affect their personal learning outcomes. Student success is always top priority for our teachers. As a board, we need to ensure that we provide relevant professional development and training. We need to ensure that the resources needed are available and that there is plenty of opportunities for collaboration between teachers themselves and with pertinent partner groups. Students in our district are already achieving at or above provincial averages thanks to the great work of all of our stakeholders. We are always striving for continuous improvement.
I believe we can improve individual student achievement by directing as much funding as possible into the classroom rather than having money diverted to administration or special programs that serve a small number of students. As a trustee my focus will be oversight, making sure that we maximize the number of frontline staff, thereby reducing class sizes and increasing one-on-one support for special needs students.
Area 5 (acclaimed)
A response was not received by press deadline.