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 who are successful in their bid to represent the community, especially in the District of Invermere, I hope that you are ready to earn the new salaries just approved on your behalf. In the past all we have heard was well talk to staff or, well have staff look into it. To be facetious, I do not recall the citizens of Invermere voting for staff!
Before each election, we read the same old 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 positions 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 for the sake of listening? 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, on the less travelled routes. We witnessed firsthand the devastating effects the poor economy has had on small-town America. Visually, it was very despairing, but what we did experience was surprising positive perspectives from the residents of those small towns, even though some areas appeared beyond hope.
What they said, in almost all cases, is that their elected officials were not accepting defeat and were taking a proactive approach by having meetings with tourism operators, chambers, 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, when speaking with the locals it was clear that these steps had been taken and one could see the effect by the numbers of people on the streets and cafs, even in a shoulder season.
Invermere residents now have a marvellous opportunity to change the course of past mayor and council who, in my opinion, 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 school or college, tradespeople need opportunities to practice their trades and raise their families, professionals need the critical mass to flourish and expand their profession and most of all, retirees need all of the above, so their kids and grandkids will come home and settle here because there are opportunities for them.
Sustainability is a nice feel-good 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 the failures of council can be attested to by the closed stores, collapsed real estate, lengthy rental vacancies, etc. Get involved in your town and go out and vote on November 19th. Dont leave it up to your neighbour!