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Pincher Creek Municipal Election 2017 — Meet the candidates

Wednesday, 04 October 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Pincher Creek Municipal Election 2017 — Meet the candidates
Pincher Creek Municipal Election 2017 — Meet the candidates

By Caitlin Clow

Eight potential councillors and two mayoral candidates took the stage last Wednesday during the Pincher Creek candidates forum to promote their ideas and answer questions from residents.

The banquet hall at the Heritage Inn was filled with curious community members who wanted to get to know the candidates before casting votes on Oct. 16.

Mayoral candidates

Don Anderberg

Pincher Creek Council July 2015 10

Incumbent mayor Don Anderberg started the evening by looking back at a few of current council’s major accomplishments, including the new Crestview Lodge and establishment of the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission.

“I take my commitment seriously and work hard to fulfil my obligations,” Mr. Anderberg said.

“If you support me, I will again advocate for council to work on and implement a number of initiatives and projects that are in various states of development.”

Mr. Anderberg’s to-do list includes work on community transportation, housing, daycare, a new curling facility, upgraded sports fields and continued upgrades to critical infrastructure such as sewer, water and streets.

Council priorities, he said, are projects that better the community without incurring new or unreasonable debt.

“Every project completed by current council was paid in full with no debt, and operations for projects fall within approved budgets,” he said.

Through use of strategic partnerships, grant funding, fundraising and reserves, Mr. Anderberg said, he and his council successfully funded things such as the spray park and the new seniors care facility in full without affecting debt levels or increasing taxes.

“In my experience, economic development is usually one building or one business at a time,” he said. “This creates new jobs for the long haul — sometimes one job at a time.”

“It’s not flashy, not newsworthy, or even noticeable, but very effective and sustainable.”

Mr. Anderberg said he will continue promoting tourism to the town through new strategies, and will advocate for new industry.

Community housing has always been high on his priority list.

“Council committed early in 2014 to explore options for low-cost and affordable housing,” he said.

A housing needs assessment has since been upgraded and “budget funding is authorized for planning and acquisition of property if required.”

To further the push for a solution to housing needs, current council has partnered with local service groups on a Habitat for Humanity build in Pincher Creek.

“Trust I will continue to work hard on behalf of the community if you support me to be mayor,”  Mr. Anderberg said. “I’ve worked with all levels of government and numerous organizations to achieve results.”

“I am but one member of council, and thank the present council, administration and staff for their hard work and dedication managing affairs of our town in a responsible and sustainable manner.”

Dianne Gray

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Dianne Gray, whose background is in social work, looks to lead as mayor through innovation in a transparent and compassionate manner while creating jobs, reforming taxes, strengthening community engagement and communication.

“When I envision a prosperous town of Pincher Creek, I think of the word discovery,” she said.

Discovery and innovation in education and industry, she said, will fuel economic development while encouraging “a flow of young talent to this town.”

“It’s time to ignite our hidden entrepreneurial spirits, freeze and reform our municipal taxes, create an affordable housing base, stimulate economic development, enhance social services under one accessible roof and streamline our present administration,” Ms. Gray said. “And most importantly, to demonstrate transparency to our citizens and ratepayers of Pincher Creek.”

One of her first orders of business, if elected, is to develop and implement a new emergency management plan.

“We learned through the Kenow fire experience that we as a community need to develop a thorough emergency management plan as well as a responsive communications strategy that is easily accessible for all Pincher Creek residents,” she said. “There must also be  a recovery plan that assists in the stabilization and healing from any community emergency.”

Transparency, accountability and leading through innovation are Ms. Gray’s top three goals as a member of council and mayor of Pincher Creek.

“Transparency must be balanced with legislative requirements and safeguards such as those found in the Municipal Government Act, FOIPP and the like,” Ms. Gray wrote in a written response to an audience question.

“Regular community consultations and postings from the committee meeting minutes could address some of the concerns on specific matters.”

“My vision for mayor of this great town involves you,” she told the crowd Wednesday evening. “I need your passion, your enthusiasm, to be the voice we need and the change we deserve. I need your ideas.”

Council candidates

Brian McGillivray

Brian McGillivray

Brian McGillivray, a new player in the political arena in Pincher Creek, told residents that he is not a politician, but rather that he is in the people business.

“I say that because a lot of people say they’ve never met a politician that they could trust. But, you can trust me. I am not a politician; I am a businessman,” he said. “The key to running business, the key to running a municipal organization, is people.”

Mr. McGillivray moved with his wife to Pincher Creek in 2014 after working for over 45 years.

His work with the board of the Allied Arts Council and the Pincher Creek Co-operative have familiarized him with the area and now he’s prepared to work for the residents of the town he calls home.

His platform calls for transparency, increased trust, reduced friction between the Town of Pincher Creek and the MD council, engaging citizens, growing the population and increasing efficiency.

The current council’s level of transparency received a failing grade from Mr. McGillivray, in a written response to an audience question. After researching previous council minutes, he noted that council spent a significant amount of time in camera — about two-thirds.

“This issue needs a resolution to be sure,” he wrote. “More communication equates to less speculation, which increases transparency and eventually establishes trust.”

Scott Korbett

Headshots 4

Longtime resident and former business owner Scott Korbett threw his name into the ring because he wants to give back.

Originally from Vancouver, Mr. Korbett has lived in Pincher Creek for over 22 years and has served on a number of boards, including the Municipal Development and Subdivision Authority, Waste Management, Rotary Club and the Pincher Creek Chamber of Commerce, and as a volunteer for the Pincher Creek Emergency Services as an EMT.

“I have always been interested in the way our town functions,” he said. “I just want to serve and give back.”

Economic development is one of Mr. Korbett’s top priorities.

“I believe the best economic development is creating a desirable community where people want to live and work,” he said. “A vibrant downtown, good municipal services, value for our tax dollars and a positive environment for small businesses are some of the pieces needed.”

“I know I cannot possibly be an expert on everything that will come before me at the council table,” Mr. Korbett said, promising to have his “homework done.”

“I want to be a strong voice for this community,” he said. “I will do my homework so I can make thoughtful decisions on every aspect of running this community, and that is my pledge.”

Douglas Thornton

Pincher Creek Council July 2015 7

A town councillor since 2013, Mr. Thornton wishes to be re-elected to continue working to move Pincher Creek forward.

“Though many initiatives have been put in place, there are still many that will need conclusion and many yet to have begun,” he said.

“I am proud of the accomplishments of our council,” he said, citing the $13.5 million Crestview Lodge project — a joint effort of the town, the MD and the Village of Cowley.

Obtaining government grants for GreenTrip, organizing a Habitat for Humanity build and working closely with residents to land the spray park were among projects listed.

Recognizing growth as the most sustainable form of economic development, Mr. Thornton said that as population increases so does the availability of government grants and funding for new projects.

“My goal is to build our town as a place where young and old can enjoy the benefits at a reasonable cost,” he said. “I want to grow our town to be the kind of place where young people who grow up here return to bring up their families.”

“If re-elected as councillor, I am well aware that I will be a member of the council of seven. I will continue to attend the meetings completely prepared with my homework and reading done,” he said.

“I will continue to understand the issues, I will listen to the opinions of the other members of council — only then will I cast my vote.”

Lorne Jackson

Council MDP 2016 003

“My time serving with council and committees have been some of the most rewarding of my life,” said Lorne Jackson, who has served on council for two terms.

He ran back in 2010 because he wished to repay the community that has served him so well. That reason, he said, is unchanged.

His main concerns have been, and still are, maintaining low property tax levels and ensuring benefits match the price paid in taxes.

“Over the past seven years, I’ve been a part of those budgetary debates. I am confident in telling you our town council has made a very concerned effort to keep any municipal tax increases to a minimum,” he said.

“And that’s less than one per cent a year, which is amazing in this climate where everything is going up leaps and bounds. We should be proud of that.”

Transparency and communication with the public is another priority Mr. Jackson wants to work on if re-elected.

“More frequent town hall meetings would be a good start,” he said.

“If given the right to continue representing you, I have one guarantee and that’s to bring a measured common-sense attitude to the table.”

Wayne Elliott

Pincher Creek Council July 2015 4

“What a great way to give back to our community and become a better person,” Wayne Elliott said.

The Pincher Creek native has served on council since 2004 — sitting out for one term — and said it’s been a learning curve.

“I will not call you folks ratepayers or taxpayers ever again,” he said. “You will be called citizens because ratepayers or taxpayers sounds like a revenue stream and you’re not.”

“I take my position as councillor very seriously,” Mr. Elliott said, between jokes that cracked the audience up.

Focusing on bringing a positive outlook to the table, he said he wishes to continue planning for future generations through establishing groundwork for housing, sports fields and schools.

He looks to better the Town of Pincher Creek’s communication and transparency with citizens and media through more frequent open houses.

Through ongoing training and completion of the Elected Officials Education Program — something less than 100 elected officials in Alberta have done — accountability and preparation are vital in representing citizens, Mr. Elliott said.

“I believe your opinions do matter and I vow to continue to listen on any issues that do arise. I believe we owe it to our citizens to be informed and educated on trending issues facing municipal politicians in today’s society,” he said.

“I dare anyone to challenge my commitment to this town and its citizens.”

Mark Barber

Pincher Creek Council July 2015 13

Mark Barber, president of Heritage Acres Farm Museum and current council member, said his priorities if re-elected are opposing installation of the controversial incinerator at the Crowsnest-Pincher Creek Landfill, upgrading sports fields and advocating for projects that will better the community while keeping taxes low.

Viewing the proposed incinerator as a threat, Mr. Barber said it could have a detrimental impact on Pincher Creek’s blossoming tourism industry.

“I am quite certain tourists wouldn’t want to be upwind, downwind or anywhere near an incinerator,” he said. “Our health, our environment and our economy are dependent on our united opposition to this potentially devastating technology.”

The youth of the community are another top priority for Mr. Barber.

“When I joined council four years ago, my priority was better sports fields for our youth,” he said. “Our football field is possibly the poorest in the province.”

Now, council is in negotiations with landowners to acquire new land suitable for a sports field, he said.

“One of my biggest disappointments on council this past term was the council’s approval of the multi-residential zoning on the north hill,” he said. “I voted against this development. How this potential development enhances the north-hill community continues to elude me.”

“I will continue to oppose the incinerator at the landfill. I will support developments that enhance our community and I will continue to be very frugal with our community’s tax dollars,” he vowed.

Tim Blake

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Originally from Crowsnest Pass, the self-identified “Pass rat” wants to make a difference in the place he’s called home for the past 35 years.

“My goal would be to create a level field of taxes compared to other towns of the same size,” he said.

He also wants to improve transparency and communication with Pincher Creek’s citizens and media outlets and to develop a stronger tourism industry.

“I’d like to see tourism grow by maybe having a festival or two,” he said.

The former Shell employee has spent years volunteering with a number of organizations and teams. He also volunteered as an executive committee member of the Pincher Creek Legion for several of years.

If elected to council, Mr. Blake said he would like a review of the application for the proposed curling rink.

“It’s time for a change and Pincher Creek could be better.”

Sussanne O’Rourke

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Concentrating on young families and affordable housing, Sussanne O’Rourke said the main reason she is running for council is to help bring forward solutions to the town’s issues.

An avid volunteer for a variety of organizations, Mrs. O’Rourke realized little change would come from her complaining.

“What’s the sense of griping about it — I should do something about it!”

“There are new ideas out there,” she said. “You can always be improving the place you live.”

Low-income housing for seniors and families is a top priority for this mother of two and grandmother.

A lack of affordable housing and jobs pushes young families out of the community, she said, asking who wants a long-distance relationship with their grandchildren.

“We need better jobs,” she said. “We want to keep the young people in the community so it will grow more.”

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