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Indoor and online municipal forums planned amidst pandemic

Forums will be held for Turner Valley and Black Diamond candidates as organizers scramble to come up with new ways to organize the event amidst COVID restrictions.
Jamie Wilkie 0155
Jamie Wilkie, outgoing councillor in Turner Valley, is hosting an outdoor and Zoom broadcast of the council candidates forum on Oct. 6. (Brent Calver/Western Wheel File Photo)

Forums will be held for Turner Valley and Black Diamond candidates as organizers scramble to come up with new ways to organize the event amidst COVID restrictions.

Outgoing Turner Valley councillor Jamie Wilkie is organizing an outdoor and Zoom-broadcast forum on Oct. 6. Wilkie said it is important to have an all-candidates forum, but it hasn’t been easy to plan with current COVID restrictions.

“Obviously in this world with a pandemic going on it is challenging for people to get out and (campaign),” Wilkie said. “The people who were organizing forums in the past weren’t necessarily comfortable organizing the standard format where it is going to be indoors and moderated so I thought is there a way to do this differently and is safe and gives people the opportunity to get in front of people.”

The plan is to hold an outdoor forum on the empty lot beside the site of the old post office.

A sound system will be put up to amplify the candidate’s voices and residents can bring a lawn chair and listen or they can log in to zoom to watch the forum on line. Wilkie said attendees will also be socially distanced.

“It will be very similar to what has been done indoors,” he said. “We will just be doing it outdoors and if the weather doesn’t cooperate then we’ll move it all online, if we have to.”

As of Monday, the weather forecast for Wednesday night was about 16C and cloudy. The forum will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. so it will be over before sundown, Wilkie said.

Eight of the nine candidates for council have confirmed they will attend the forum. Turner Valley mayor Barry Crane was acclaimed back to the position Sept. 20.

Face-to-face interaction with the candidates is important, Wilkie said.

“There is a lot that we can do online,” he said. “There is a lot we can do on social media. I find the environment on social media to be incredibly toxic and polarizing and more productive conversations happen in person and that is the big reason why I want people to put questions directly to people.”

Wilkie will moderate the forum, but said he is leaving most of the time for the audience to ask questions.

“I have one question about amalgamation and then essentially it will be a Q&A from the audience,” he said.

For more information about the Turner Valley forum and to get the Zoom link click here

An online forum for Black Diamond candidates is being held Oct. 12 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The meeting will be held via GoToMeeting and the link will be available on the Town of Black Diamond’s website.

Mike King, a regular moderator for political forums in Black Diamond, will be heading the event. Written questions will be taken online from the audience.

Ten candidates are running for the Town’s six council positions and teacher Brendan Kelly is challenging and incumbent Ruth Goodwin for the Mayoral role.

Advance voting is being held in Black Diamond at the Griffith Centre Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In Turner Valley advance voting will take place at the Town office Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Oct. 14 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.