Ashcroft council candidates state their platforms

Some 60 people attended last week's all-candidates' forum, where the five people seeking election to council answered audience questions.

A good crowd of some 60 local residents turned out  on August 31 to meet and listen to the candidates who are running in the upcoming by-election, to be held on Saturday,  September 17. Monty Downs, the moderator, introduced the five candidates—Christopher Roden, Helen Kormendy, David Durksen, Sheila Corneillie, and Donald Cram—and outlined the procedure for the evening.

Each candidate was given an allotted time to introduce themselves and present their platform, after which the floor was open for questions.

Christopher Roden has lived in Ashcroft for the past 19 years and served as a local school trustee from 2008 to 2014. He stated that we need new businesses and housing, as well as an active chamber of commerce. He is not a single issue candidate and is willing to research issues.

Helen Kormendy has lived in Ashcroft for 20 years, and served as a village councillor from 2005 to 2014. She has experience in the municipal political arena, is passionate about Ashcroft, and has a collaborative approach. She noted that residents should have trust and confidence in whom they elect, and she is willing to make informed decisions to help us move forward.

David Durksen is an active member of the Wellness and Health Action Coalition (WHAC), and believes that what we build together now will be what we leave for our future.  He will address the water issue with an open mind. He encourages all residents to get out and vote. We need a good turnout for the by-election and for the water loan bylaw referendum.

Sheila Corneillie has lived here almost exclusively since 1970. She has been involved with a number of committees in Ashcroft over the years, and is currently working with the WHAC on non-doctor staffing issues. Her focus is health care issues (keeping it consistent and stable), as well as economic development. She also stressed that residents should make every effort to get out and vote.

Donald Cram, a former resident, has just returned to Ashcroft after being away for 22 years. He believes that brainstorming is the best way to deal with issues, and encourages everyone to engage in a democratic viewpoint.

Once the candidates completed their introductions, moderator Downs opened the floor to questions. The questions covered a wide range of topics and were addressed to all candidates.

The candidates were asked to give what they felt was their greatest strength.

Roden: Listen to learn, has commitment, is a team player.

Kormendy: Good listener and communicator and has conflict resolution skills. A team player.

Durksen: Part of a team working towards a goal.

Corneillie: Looks at things with a new perspective and asks questions.

Cram: Brainstorming, problem solving.

What will you do about the truck traffic that is going through downtown?

Kormendy: The heavy traffic is having an impact on the village roads and needs to be looked into.

Roden: It needs to be addressed, and work needs to be done with the Dept. of Highways and others. Perhaps a bylaw

Corneille: It needs to be addressed.

Cram: The village needs to work with the other parties, such as highways, to find a better place for the trucks to turn.

Do you think we should have a bylaw enforcement officer?

Kormendy: The village has had one on and off in the past, but could not maintain it financially.  Believes it is essential that we have one.

Corneillie: Feels we need consistency for the management of our bylaws. Perhaps we could share with another community to make it viable.

Cram: Feels there is a need for one for consistency.

Roden: Feels that we need to review and revise the bylaws first.

Durksen: A part-time officer is too inconsistent. We need to work with other communities so that we could share the position and make it more affordable.

How do you feel we could revitalize our downtown?

Corneillie: Believes that the Ashcroft chamber of commerce needs to be revamped and revitalized.

Roden: Feels that we need to be “open for business”; we recently turned a business away by not responding to their request.

Durksen: The Village of Ashcroft has an economic strategy in place, and we need to prioritize and work together.

Kormendy: It requires all the essential elements to make it happen. She feels that it would be good to network with other communities at the UBCM convention to see what they are doing.

Cram: Feels the village should give out seed money for businesses and actively pursue new businesses.

How would you approach the lack of housing in Ashcroft as a barrier to economic development?

Durksen: A partnership is needed. There are  limited resources. The village needs to open up more land and look at their policies and bylaws.

Cram: The village had land in the mesa that they let go back to the Crown a number of years ago.

Roden: We need to do something about the Tingley Street apartments, and there needs to be a plan in place for the dunes on the mesa.

Kormendy: The village has just obtained a $10,000 grant to look at housing options

Corneillie: Council must find out what would work in the community. What are the community’s needs: do we need large houses on large lots, or smaller houses on smaller lots, or apartments?

How do you feel about the Inland Port—will you support and encourage the business?

Roden: Fully supports it, but feels it needs to be more transparent.

Kormendy: Feels there should be regular meetings with them. Also feels that we should meet with the City of Delta, as they have encouraged our inland port.

Durksen: We need a strategic economic development plan. What are the logistics?

Corneillie: Feels there should be more meetings between the village and the port.

Cram: Doesn’t know much about the Inland Port.

All candidates had an opportunity to make closing remarks. Moderator Downs thanked all the candidates, and noted how great it was to have five candidates running in a by-election.