Canal Flats Council will have an adjustment period as three of the five new Council members are new to municipal politics (though Doug McCutcheon served as a school trustee for seven years in a separate district). Through the election period, the new mayor and councillors asserted what they would like to see accomplished moving forward into a new four-year term. Compiled here are topics brought up by at least three candidates – enough votes on a Council to see a change move forward. The answers are not a comprehensive look at all platform items of each candidate. Instead, they are a reflection of answers given in both the Pioneer weekly questions as well as the all-candidates debate held Wednesday, October 10th.
Canal Flats Council includes Mayor Karl Sterzer and councillors Marie Delorme, Bill Lake, Douglas McCutcheon, and Kimberly Swerdferger.
Development / Growth:
The former CANFOR lands are taking on new life with the purchase and development into new projects, including the Columbia Lake Technology Centre as well as plans for housing and business ventures. Expect to see an amiable relationship between the new Council and the new owner as each candidate vowed to work with the landowner while staying community-focused.
On the more general topic of development in Canal Flats, the unsurprising answer from candidates was there needs to be a balance between keeping the flavour of Canal Flats the same while encouraging responsible growth.
“We need a balanced approach to development,” said Ms. Swerdferger. Mr. Sterzer said the village needs to create partnerships and communicate community vision while growing the population. Mr. McCutcheon said they need to focus on the quality of life for all citizens, and look at long-term plans which will include the Flat’s new industrial client, to “grow with care and grow in a balanced way: business, taxation, industry, community residents, – those kinds of things all work together.”
Ms. Delorme advocated for reasonable, measured growth: “We cannot put a gate on the community and stop growth, but we can get bylaws, processes and planning in place to handle the growth.”
Mr. Lake stated that it is the responsibility of council to ensure the community’s vision is included in plans.
“The community needs a diversity of people, and business; from permanent and seasonal homeowners, to those that just wish to visit us for the day,” said Mr. Lake.
Ms. Delorme said there is a real need for senior housing. Mr. Sterzer agreed, saying he wants seniors to be able to live in the community for 10 years longer than they can right now because of expanded amenities, “so the end of life situation isn’t eight years living somewhere far away from the community. That is a goal we should work towards.”
Mr. McCutcheon touched on the need too: “We need to find a way that our senior citizens can exist and live their lives out here in Canal Flats with the services they need so they do not have to travel.”
All candidates had something to say about housing issues in Canal Flats. The previous Canal Flats Council was already working towards innovative housing strategies, reported Ms. Delorme. Mr. Sterzer said there needs to be more housing, and Council will need to address it in OCP and zoning bylaw plans. Mr. Lake and Mr. McCutcheon both pointed out housing is already affordable in Canal Flats. Ms. Swerdferger said there is a significant need for multi-family housing in the community.
Keeping Columbia Lake pristine while also accessible played the leading role in answers on the subject of water. Both Ms. Delorme and Mr. McCutcheon suggested that the Kootenay River should be monitored. Ms. Swerdferger suggested a boat wash station to ward off invasive species should be installed at the boat launch.
All promised to work as one voice in part of an overall team.
“You have to be a team player (with Council). You have to be a team player with constituents too. We have to be aligned with you more than we ever have in the past,” said Mr. Sterzer.