The Western Wheel is speaking to municipal election candidates in Black Diamond about their platforms.
There are 10 candidates running for six council positions in Black Diamond. We will feature candidates each week over the next three weeks. Alberta’s municipal election will be held Oct. 18.
Unfinished business as well as working through amalgamation are reasons incumbent councillor Ted Bain is re-running in the upcoming municipal election.
Seeing through a major sewage upgrade for the Towns of Black Diamond and Turner Valley is one reason Bain decided to run again for council.
“It’s about $16 million I’ve signed for, a little over $13 million worth of grants towards the projects for as the chair of the Westend Commission and continuity is important,” he said. “So, I want to make sure this project is done and the people who know what is happening stay on.”
He said another accomplishment was getting 100 free radon kits for residents to use to test the levels in their home.
“There definitely were some homes that definitely should get radon remediation in their home,” he said, adding about half the homes tested showed levels of radon, an odourless gas that can cause lung cancer.
Protecting Black Diamond resident’s tax money is also a priority if the Town amalgamates with Turner Valley, Bain said.
“We have almost $4 million more in reserve and about $800,000 less debt and upon amalgamation, all of our reserves belong to the new town,” he said. "So, money collected from Black Diamond taxpayers can be spent anywhere in the new Town. I want to try and make sure that money that came from Black Diamond taxpayers stays in Black Diamond.”
Downtown revitalization, affordable housing and seniors’ services are places Bain said could be areas where the Black Diamond’s reserve funds could be used.
Four years ago when running for council for the first time, Veronica Kloiber said she would be running again.
“There is quite a bit to learn, backstory and procedures and protocols,” she said. “So I felt that continuing into a second term would serve the community well.”
Issues like improving communication and transparency, community engagement, creating a more detailed plan for underground service replacement, and economic development and business retention are Kloiber’s priorities, if elected. Improving social media use by the Town and councillors is needed, she said, but more also has to be done to reach those who don’t use Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
“I know there are a lot of people who are not on Facebook and it is even more challenging now with COVID to get the word out,” she said. “There ought to be a better way and I don’t know if it is mailers or flyers or social media. I wish there was a one-stop-shop where people could get all the information."
Replacing and repairing aging underground pipes and paving roads has been costly ongoing work in the town, she said, and would be better managed with a more detailed plan.
She has also been working with the Foothills Tourism Association and said a regional approach to economic development is key for Black Diamond.
Kloiber said it is likely she will run on an amalgamated council as well but said she is now focused on moving the process forward.
“This portion of the amalgamation process, should it be approved by the Province, is the most crucial,” she said. “This is where everyone will set the joint community bylaws and plans for the future. So even though this is a very short term, it is very important.”
You can reach Kloiber at 403-921-2811 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bringing a fresh, young perspective to council, maintaining Black Diamond’s unique small businesses and careful planning through the amalgamation are what Chad Vandenhoek said he will bring to council.
“I’m much younger than a lot of the other candidates and just see the world a little different than some of them may,” the 33-year-old said.
He said supporting small businesses in the area is a priority for him.
“In talking to a lot of the young business owners in this area, a fear of over-commercialization is definitely on the mind,” he said. “Just basically growing up in the area, I’ve definitely seen between Okotoks and even what Calgary has become, things can change so quickly when you don’t have community in mind.”
He said hearing about chain retail stores and restaurants coming to the Town is concerning for small locally owned businesses, who he said will likely struggle as a result. Black Diamond could become a unique destination if it maintains its small-town feel, Vandenhoek added.
“There’s so much beauty and specialness here, we can easily become a Canmore or Banff if we just play our cards right,” he said.
The first-time candidate said he would like to see more outdoor recreation opportunities developed in the town.
“I definitely want to encourage more recreational development here,” he said, adding fully using existing facilities to their full potential is also something he would like to explore.
Going into a possible amalgamation, Vandenhoek said he wants to ensure that Black Diamond addresses immediate and future spending over the next year.
“I know we have a short-term going into this amalgamation, so I want to make sure we are going to spend money accordingly,” he said. “There are things we need right now and there are going to be things we need two years from now so before our Town’s amalgamate, we want to make sure those don’t fall by the wayside.”
Vandenhoek has a website at vandenhoek.ca.