Congratulations to all of the candidates who have let their names stand for the upcoming elections. You have a conviction that many of us only talk about, complain about but do not let our own names stand, for a variety of reasons, some even valid.
To those that are successful in their bid to represent the community, especially in the DOI, I hope that you are ready to earn the new salaries that you just approved on your behalf. In the past all we heard was “we’ll talk to staff” or, “we’ll have staff look into it.” To be facetious, I do not recall the citizens of Invermere voting for staff! You voted the raise for you, not staff.
Before each election, we read the same old hackneyed statements on how each person is a good listener and wants to work with the community. I then ask the question to the incumbents for mayor and council, when was the last time you went to a meeting of the Lions, Chamber, Rotary, Knights of Columbus or just sat down for coffee with a group of locals who you do not even know, and ask a few questions just to listen! To those who hope to be successful, are you willing to do this?
Six or so months ago, we drove to California, and as is our habit, we went on the less travelled routes. On our journey, we witnessed firsthand the devastation of the effects the economy has had on small town America. Visually, it was very despairing, but what we did experience was surprising positive perspective of the residents of those small towns.
We were bewildered as in some towns, visually it seemed beyond hope. In those towns what they said, in almost all cases, that their elected officials were not accepting defeat and were taking a proactive approach by having meetings with tourism operators, chamber, landlords, business owners, renters, retailers, service groups and even developers to hear their perspective and ideas, not to be studied, but to be acted upon. In other boroughs, again in speaking with the locals, it was clear that these steps had been taken, reaching out to business and tourists and one could see the effect buy the numbers on the streets and cafés even in a shoulder season.
To the residents of Invermere, you now have a marvelous opportunity to change the languished course of past mayor and council who, by all appearances, lacked involvement and passed everything off to staff. Go to the forums, become informed, challenge the candidates on the doorstep or on the street. This is your town and you have that right. Please do not be complacent in whatever demographic you fall into. Young people need opportunities after high school or college, trades people need opportunities to practice their trades and care for their families, professionals need the critical mass to flourish and expand their profession and most of all, those who are retired need all of the above so their kids and grandkids will come home and settle down here because there are opportunities for them.
Sustainability is a nice fuzzy word when times are booming, solar powered garbage compactors and street lamps that shine down and not up are nice when the real homework has been done, but council failed that assignment as can be attested to by the closed stores, collapsed real estate, length of rental vacancies etc.
Seniors, trades, retirees, professionals and the unemployed, get involved in your town and get out and vote on November 19th. Don’t leave it up to your neighbour!