Radium Hot Springs will have just its fourth mayor since it became an incorporated municipality more than three decades ago.

Back when Radium incorporated in 1991, the village’s population hovered at around 500. Now it has grown to more than 1,300 with most of that increase coming quite recently (Radium exploded with 72 per population growth between the 2016 and 2021 census). Through all that time and through all that change, the village has been shepherded by a grand total of just three mayors. That third mayor — Clara Reinhardt — is stepping down, paving the way for a fourth. The question is  – who will it be?

Multiple term councillor and Horsethief Pub owner Mike Gray has thrown his name forward, but so has local resident Brad Lawrence.

“To say I have fallen in love with this community would be an understatement,” said Gray, who moved to Radium in 2014. He was first elected to Radium council in early 2017 in a by-election, and was acclaimed back to council in October 2018. While on council, he has served as Radium’s alternative director at the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board and the hospital board, and has been a director with the Radium Public Library.  Outside politics, he was a board member of the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce/Tourism Radium, and volunteers with the Hospice Society.

“Through my business I have also supported dozens of local charities and provided a venue for live music and many other events for our community to enjoy,” Gray told the Pioneer.

He cited his involvement with several major projects in the village during his time on council, such as the new Radium Hot Springs Centre and public library, the rink, splash park, and boat launch.

“If elected mayor I want to provide continuity as our new council learns what is possible. After the latest census showed our population has grown over 70 per cent it is time to look at our Official Community Plan (OCP) and make sure this guiding document aligns with our shared vision for our community’s future. With growth comes all sorts of challenges, from concrete challenges like housing and transportation to more abstract challenges like culture and aesthetics,” said Gray. “My experience on council and in the community makes me an ideal candidate for mayor, and I look forward to seeing Radium through this exciting time in our vibrant village.”

Lawrence brings to his campaign more than 39 years in operations and management in the electric power industry, which he noted has given him plenty of experience in strategic planning, asset management, geographical information systems, process optimization, emergency management and even with working with Federal Crown Prosecution. He has also spent many years volunteering on various boards of directors and committees for industry associations, academic institutes and local community associations, with many of those years serving as a president.

“These roles provided me with the opportunity to engage with varied levels of municipal, regional and provincial governments, along with negotiating agreements with First Nations councils and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada,” he told the Pioneer. “I now want to bring my knowledge, experience, and my passion for community service to the role of mayor of Radium Hot Springs. This is where I can best serve our new village council by leading them through engaging, collaborative, responsible and fair decision-making processes.  I believe in developing strong communication strategies, ensuring everyone is fully informed of the issues and the decisions that will be affecting the residents and business of our wonderful and unique community.”

Incumbent multi-term Radium councillors, Tyler McCauley and Todd Logan are, like Reinhardt, not running for re-election. With Gray going for mayor instead of councillor, this leaves just one incumbent councillor — Dale Shudra — running for another term as Radium councillor. He is joined in the council election race by Erin Palashniuk, Bob Campbell, Carey Collin and Christi Ferguson-Huston.

Shudra has lived in Radium for 15 years, retiring to the Columbia Valley after a business and legal career in Alberta. He has been a long-serving member of the Radium Rotary Club, where he championed the Rotary Gardens and the Rotary Splash Park. His first stab at municipal politics was back in 2017 when he ran unsuccessfully against Gray in a by-election to fill a vacant council spot. Undeterred, he put his name forward again in 2018, winning his seat by acclamation. A year later he ran for even higher office, contesting the 2019 Kootenay Columbia Conservative candidate race, losing out to eventual candidate (and eventual MP) Rob Morrison.

“An interest in politics and public service eventually led to becoming a village councillor.  Following an enjoyable first term, I welcome the opportunity to serve Radium citizens by being a councillor for another four years,” said Shudra.

Ferguson-Huston is owner of local Radium business, Funky Junk Stained Glass & More.

She has lived in the village full time for more than four years, but has been visiting since 1976.

“I love Radium and always have.  I am running for council because I think Radium has such great momentum right now and I want to be a part of making those decisions.  I want to be an ambassador for our ‘friendliest’ little town,” Ferguson-Huston told the Pioneer.

Collin is another relatively new resident to Radium, and he told the Pioneer he and his wife chose the village because of its small town charm and great water. The move to the valley came after Collin’s 25 year career as an educator, administrator, realtor, college researcher, and operator of a small construction business.

“I have joined a great bunch of folks on the Radium Fire Department, and we are carving out time to enjoy the valley’s outdoor offerings” said Collin. “My platform for council is ‘I love this place’ as this reflects an acknowledgement that we have chosen to live in a really cool part of the world, and want to be a part of its future. And it comes with a recognition that there are challenges that will continue to require our attention, such as long-term housing, responsible development, and environmental stewardship.”

Palashniuk has lived in Radium for seven years and is owner of the Gateway Motel and co-owner of the Screamers Ice Cream Cafe. She moved to the valley after spending more than 25 years in nonprofit management in Calgary, which she noted has given her plenty of experience working with various agencies and boards of directors.

She’s settled quickly into a busy life here in the valley. Of her three kids, one is in Grade 12 at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS), while the other two are grown and living on their own. Palashniuk is president of the Radium Rotary Club, and president of the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce/Tourism Radium. She’s also on the Columbia Valley Food Bank board of directors, and is a member of the Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing Society.

“When I moved from Calgary, part of the reason we chose Radium was that I wanted a sense of community. That was a priority for me,” Palashniuk told the Pioneer. “Over the past few years I’ve seen our community grow exponentially. It’s doubled in size since I’ve been here. But there’s a need for more and I want to be involved in making that happen. We need to attract more commercial development and services such as a pharmacy and a medical clinic. I’m passionate about community. I want to be a strong and positive advocate for our community. I want to see the next four years continue to go in a positive direction.”

Campbell also brings an extensive background to this campaign with 26 years in public service in Calgary at a management and supply management level, prior to moving to Radium nine years ago.

In Radium, Campbell has been strata president for the past five years in The Aspen condos, where he lives, has worked as a facilities coordinator with the village and is a volunteer at the Rotary Garden and the Radium Public Library.

He is running for council because he sees several unfinished projects around the village that he wants to champion, including the bighorn sheep, creating a crosswalk over the highway at St. Joseph Street, creating a solution for recycling bottles in the village, and developing a mass warning system (other than online and phone alerts, and door knocking) to notify Radium residents in event of a large scale emergency.