The Western Wheel is speaking to municipal election candidates about their platforms. Turner Valley has nine candidates running for six council positions. We have featured three candidates each week. Alberta’s municipal election will be held Oct. 18.
A Turner Valley dad and tax specialist running for council said he wants to work through amalgamation and find ways to save money and offer more services.
Gunnar Pearson said he’s been hearing about amalgamation since he was a teenager at Oilfields High School and wants to be part of the council that moves it forward.
“Seeing where we are doubling up on the services,” Pearson said. “There’s some of the obvious things like the administration and councillors. There is going to be twice as many people as we need. There are a lot of things that haven’t been looked at like the emergency services that are going to have to be looked at going forward.”
There could be unexpected costs, like the need for full-time firefighters, he said.
Pearson said he plans on running again in a year’s time if Turner Valley and Black Diamond amalgamate.
“That is why I’m running this time as a stepping stone to help with amalgamation,” he said.
The father of young twins said he would also like to see more recreational opportunities for children.
“Some of the other things I would like to look at is if it is possible to take our swimming pool and enclose it or the feasibility of having an indoor pool,” he said.
Increasing recreation as well as providing lessons, such as swimming lessons, will create revenue streams for the Town, Pearson said.
After four years on council, Garry Raab, is running again because he wants to be on the council that carries out amalgamation and the $17 million upgrade to the water treatment system for Turner Valley and Black Diamond.
He said the new council will have a lot of work in directing the work to determine what the unified town will look like, including determining staffing.
“If amalgamation goes through, we have to align our two municipalities,” he said. “We have to tidy up our bylaws and try to get them in sync. We need to look at our finances in terms of a finance plan and make sure IT is in order and that is just the tip of the iceberg.”
His other two priorities are supporting business development and increasing and improving parks and pathways in the Town.
Supporting existing businesses that are bringing visitors to Turner Valley should be a priority, Raab said.
Re-connecting the pathways through town is important Raab said, adding he would work with the golf course to re-open a portion of the pathway system that belongs to the club. Building new parks is also a priority, he said.
“We would like to get river access,” he said. “We don’t really have that, so that is what this new park is going to be.”
Lastly, he said the two Towns need to continue building their asset management plans so they can plan better in the future.
John Waring is seeking a third term on council and said he wants to use his experience to guide the next council through amalgamation, balancing services and costs and the Westend Regional Sewer Services upgrade.
He said council will need to support administration through aligning the Towns’ bylaws, and creating municipal entities, like the library and water treatment commission.
“There is a lot of work for administration to do before the end of the year and the more experience there is on council to help them with this, the better,” Waring said.
Operating and capital budgets have already been put in place for the upcoming year, he said, adding it will be difficult to hold the line on taxes as the council has done over the last term.
“We’ve tried to keep our property taxes low and we’ve done this by shared services and efficiencies,” he said. “You get to a certain point that you can’t keep it the same. Prices keep going up as you are aware by just going to the grocery store. But we try to keep things to a minimum and I think this is very important everybody is having economic problems in their own homes and lives.”
Waring also wants to continue his work on the intermunicipal economic committee with Black Diamond and see through the development of a park on the south side of the Sheep River.
Continuing momentum on making Turner Valley a destination for visitors through the support of local businesses, like the Eau Claire Distillery, he said.