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Two Turner Valley councillors may run again if councils push to merge

John Waring and Garry Raab plan to hand in their nomination papers for the 2021 municipal election, only if Black Diamond and Turner Valley councils agree to submit a request for amalgamation to the minister of municipal affairs in September.
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Turner Valley councillors Garry Raab (left) and John Waring both plan not to run unless amalgamation shortens the term to end in 2022.

Two Turner Valley councillors may reconsider their decision to not seek re-election if there's a chance another election will be held in 2022.

John Waring and Garry Raab plan to hand in their nomination papers for this fall’s municipal election if the two councils agree to submit a request for amalgamation to Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver in mid-September, which could result in an election in 2022 for the new amalgamated community of Diamond Valley.

The Towns submitted a letter to the minister last fall about their intention to formally enter into amalgamation negotiations and will decide in late August or early September whether or not to proceed.

“I’ve been involved with amalgamation discussions since 2015 and I want to see it through to a successful completion,” said Waring. “The thought of having an additional 15-month period would be an ideal situation to achieving my wish of seeing things through to the end.”

Waring joined Turner Valley council in September 2014 following a byelection to replace Barry Williamson, who was hired as the Town’s chief administrative officer earlier that year. Waring, the sole candidate in 2014, was re-elected in 2017.

From day one, Waring supported seeing the towns merge.

“I’ve always been 100 per cent supportive of amalgamation,” he said. “I think nearly every councillor in Turner Valley, during the last election campaign, had it as part of their platform. Obviously. it has to work from a financial point of view, it has to work from a residents’ point of view, and I believe it will, based on the knowledge we have from the negotiations.”

Having been a part of the process the past six years, Waring said he has the knowledge and experience to help the process along.

“Continuity is very important when you look at things like the Sheep River Regional Utility Corporation, West End Sewage Services Commission and the overall processes that we could be involved in over the next 15 months,” he said. “There’s going to be a tremendous amount of work with bylaws and policies needing to be aligned.”

If amalgamation goes ahead, Waring said he has no intention of running in the anticipated fall 2022 election.

“I think it’s time to hand it over to a newly elected council,” he said. “They are going to make big decisions and get themselves on the road to success.”

Waring has many achievements worth celebrating during his years on council including Parks, Pathways and Recreational Advisory Committee projects completed through public engagement, the addition of crosswalks and crossing lights as a member of the ad hoc Pedestrian Safety Task Force, revisions to the town’s land use bylaw and his role in implementing the Intermunicipal Economic Development Committee aimed at improving economic development in Black Diamond and Turner Valley.

Raab, who’s served one term on council, said he’d like to serve one more year to see the plans for West End’s $17 million sewage system upgrade through, which he expects will be complete in a year. Raab is a member of the commission.

If the councils agree to not pursue amalgamation, Raab said he won’t run again.

“I don’t want another four years,” he said. “I’m too old for this.”

Like Waring, Raab has also been an advocate for amalgamation.

“Amalgamation makes sense to me,” he said. “It’s not about me at all, it’s about what’s in the best interest of our communities.”

As a member of the finance subcommittee, Raab said he sees the potential to save money by merging the towns.

Saving money has been a focus of Turner Valley council from day one, he said.

“All seven of us are working towards the same goal to reduce costs and save money,” he said. “We had never raised taxes since we got elected and that is huge for me. We haven’t lowered it much, but it’s in the right direction, I believe.”

Raab said he’s impressed by the hard work of town staff and his fellow councillors these past four years.

“It’s been a privilege to serve the community and work with this group of excellent councillors,” he said. “All seven are good thinkers, articulate and express their opinions well. We’ve also got a very good staff in place who are the backbone of the community. We lost some great people, but gained some great people as well.”

Some of Raab’s proudest achievements as a part of the council team, apart from holding the line on municipal taxes, include the amalgamation negotiation process, implementing curbside garbage pick-up and exploring curbside recycling, and improving the Town’s relationship with the business community.

“We’ve made some great progress,” he said. “We are more business friendly, so hopefully that will work out into more development now.”