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 have featured candidates each week over the past three weeks. Alberta’s municipal election will be held Oct. 18.
With almost 10 years experience on Black Diamond town council, Sharon Hart said her knowledge of the issues, projects and workings of the town make her a good candidate for another term.
“It’s important that we have continuity with all of the issues and having the knowledge of everything we’ve gone through and what we’ve done is very important,” she said.
The current council has been successful in many ways, she said, including working together with Turner Valley to get the amalgamation report and request to the Province.
She said unifying the residents of Black Diamond and Turner Valley is important, if amalgamation goes ahead.
“Making sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible – that is one of the key elements,” she said. “Both with the administration, the public works, emergency services, just everything to make sure it goes as fluid as possible. We need to make sure we include everyone we possibly can, those who have doubts about amalgamation.”
Through amalgamation, Hart said she would like to maximize the amount of grants available for the towns.
Continuing the work that is ongoing including the work on the Town administration building, replacing the underground pipes and paving roads needs to happen.
“There is a lot that we need to carry on with,” she said.
As a lifelong resident of Black Diamond, Hart said she is proud to be a part of building the town’s future.
“I’ve seen a lot of change,” she said. “I think we’ve made a lot of really good strides. I’d like to make sure we continue on with the growth and make sure we do it properly.”
The land the Town recently annexed should include diverse housing options, she continued.
“I would even be open to having a tiny home division where it is affordable for young couples that are just coming up or a single person that is trying to make it on their own,” she said. “Just trying to make sure we create the right footprint for the community.”
Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been four months since Heather Thomson retired from her long-time job administrative job with the Town of Turner Valley and she is now hoping to serve the residents of her community on council.
She said her work with the Town is valuable experience as a town councillor
“Eleven years with the Town of Turner Valley in the legislative services department, which handled much of council, council meetings, developing bylaws, developing policies,” she said. “I also sat as the acting CAO several times so that gives me a pretty good understanding of the role of council and municipal legislation.”
Her top priorities are moving amalgamation forward, improving communication between the town, administration and residents, paving streets in older parts of town, making improvements to aging infrastructure and increasing recreation opportunities in the town for people of all ages.
She said one way to increase what is available in the Town is to access grants and increase volunteerism.
“We need to figure out a way to re-engage the community to do some of this,” she said. “So, the community is really involved.”
Fundraising and community volunteers would be a way to increase services without increasing taxes, Thomson said.
Creating housing options for everyone is important as the Town grows, she said.
“We need to address housing for seniors, for families, for single people – we need more diverse housing,” she said.
Thomson can be reached on Facebook.
Keeping residents informed about amalgamation, responsible growth and planning ahead for changes in the downtown corridor are top priorities for incumbent councillor Daryl Lalonde as he makes a run to retake his place on the council.
Lalonde voted against sending a report to the Province requesting amalgamation, saying there was not enough consultation with residents on the issue. Now that the amalgamation request has gone ahead, he said, it is important that citizens are informed as the process unrolls.
“The next year is going to be a very busy year regarding amalgamation,” he said. “Council is going to have to step up along with administration to make sure the residents are prepared for and supported during the amalgamation as the changes come through if the amalgamation comes through from the Province for this year.”
Lalonde said residents will need to update documents with their address information and need to know how and where to go to get it done.
Upgrading and fixing Black Diamond’s aging infrastructure is another priority, said Lalonde.
“We’ve got our underground and service work up to grade wherever it needs to be,” he said.
Affordable housing, higher density and controlling growth are also important, said Lalonde
“I’m looking for a nice slow evolution for the community,” he said.
Planning ahead for changes to the downtown if Highway 7 and 22 are widened is essential, he added.
“It is going to impact our parking through our main drag and all of our businesses in the downtown core and we have to find a way to accommodate our businesses as well as pedestrians and travelers,” he added.
You can reach Lalonde at email@example.com
Keeping Black Diamond’s small-town feeling should come first as the Town grows, said first-time council candidate Brad Whaling.
Whaling said visitors to Black Diamond should be welcomed by a unique and quaint town.
“My number one issue is I want to make sure that BD with the increased tourism is successful and does good, but doesn’t lose that small-town charm,” he said.
Whaling and his wife moved to Black Diamond eight years ago and have three children. Living in a town of under 10,000 people is ideal.
If elected, Whaling said he would carefully consider future growth and construction for its merits for existing and future residents.
“Any development be it residential, commercial residential or commercial business needs to be taken serious considerations on the diversity and the development what it brings to the Town,” he said.
Developers should be adding value to the town beyond just putting up buildings, Whaling said.
“Let’s make sure whoever is putting in the development is putting some parks and rec in place in the development,” he said, adding parks, pathways and picnic tables could be done by developers.
Improving roadways, connecting pathways, improving infrastructure are his main priorities
Whaling said through owning his electrical business, he has skills that will help make sound decision on council.
“Sometimes it seems that common sense is lost in the politics,” he said. “I hope to bring some to bring a point to 'let’s sit down and negotiate this and come out with a win-win situation.'”
Creating more methods of communication between town council, town administration and Black Diamond residents is essential, he added.
“You can’t rely on I heard this from my neighbour,” he said. “There is no good platform point to contact the people in this town, the people who voted for you. Whether it is through social media, internet, paper flyers, town discussions. Things need to be brought up so there is discussion between future council and the people in town.”
Whaling is attending the outdoor meet and greets at the Hard Knox Brewery and can be reached on Facebook.