The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Meet the Candidates - Clearwater County Council - Division 2

Editor’s note: Three candidates are vying for a seat on county council in Division 2. Incumbent Kyle Greenwood is looking for a second term. He is up against former councillor Dick Wymenga, and former Clearwater Regional fire chief Cammie Laird.

 

Kyle Greenwood

“We need to communicate a whole lot better with the public and the rate payers to see if our vision is coinciding with what they see.”

Kyle Greenwood holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from the University of Alberta, and has spent more than two decades in the field, both running his own farm and working for small business, government and non-government agriculture organizations. He is looking for a second term on Clearwater County council.

What big budget items should or shouldn’t be funded, and why?
 “The big budget item is the north development area and the northeast development area in Caroline. The beauty of both of those, if the Stronger Together Agreement carries forward, is that all three communities get a win-win out of this. The community needs to look at what is the future going to hold. When some of the questions are posed about spending our tax dollars, you’ve got to seriously take a look at where our tax dollars are going to be coming from in the future. Eighty-eight cents of every tax dollar that we have is coming from industry right now, and if that industry dramatically changes any more in the future what programs are we cutting? To me, those are some big questions that this community needs to answer.”

Is there a specific municipal policy you feel will need immediate attention from the incoming council?
“We’re seriously going to have to look at the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) which was done back in 2010. If there are any major changes that need to be made we need to get on that early on in the term because the last MDP took almost two years, so there’s half of your term. Keeping in mind that administration also has to do the new modified Municipal Government Act (MGA) intercollaboration frameworks and all of this other stuff, time allocation is going to be paramount for this term.”

Describe a good decision made by the previous/current council, and why you believe it was good.
I think the good decision was the purchase of the lands, both in Caroline and near Rocky…”

Describe a bad decision made by the previous /current council, and why you believe it was bad.
“…and the bad decision was to purchase the lands in both Rocky and Caroline, simply because it has shown, for myself personally, we need to communicate a whole lot better with the public and the rate payers to see if our vision is coinciding with what they see. And if it’s not, then we need to change.”

 

Cammie Laird

“I’ve grown up and raised a family in rural Alberta, which has helped me understand the importance of rural life and how to prioritize things. I also have degrees in business and education. I believe all of that will help me continue to be a good leader.”
Cammie Laird has been in emergency and public service for over 35 years, giving her a good understanding of that environment and how important it is as a public servant. She served as fire chief of Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services for 13 years.
“I’ve grown up and raised a family in rural Alberta, which has helped me understand the importance of rural life and how to prioritize things. I also have degrees in business and education. I believe all of that will help me continue to be a good leader.”

What big budget items should or shouldn’t be funded? Why/why not?
“The one that seems to be the most contentious at the moment is the county administration building. Last spring there was a meeting at Dovercourt and the community provided quite frankly a resounding no and disapproval to that project. My understanding is that it is a $30 million building and we are in tough economic times right now and I believe that is one project that we should hit the stop button on. From my perspective and what I’m hearing in the community is it’s the wrong building, the wrong location, wrong time and the wrong price tag. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for administration to do a needs assessment and we can develop a strategy to meet the expectations and exercise some fiscal prudence. That’s the one funding that needs to happen. We continue to have a $90 million bridge deficit and I believe that we need to be working towards solutions to look after our roads and bridge infrastructure. It’s not being funded through provincial grants anymore like it used to be, so I think that as our roads and bridge infrastructure continues to degrade, that’s something that we need to be considering as a higher priority.”

Is there a specific municipal policy you feel needs immediate attention from the incoming council?
“The one that really comes to mind, right now, I have asked public works what is the policy around road development and maintenance and the criteria that goes with that. I’d like to explore and review what we have and see if that is something that can become a priority as a team in the whole council.”

Describe a bad decision made by the previous council, and why you believe it was bad.
“I believe I already answered that in regards to the county admin building. What I am hearing in the community is that it’s not being well supported by the community. As I said, wrong building, wrong location, wrong time and wrong price tag. We’ve got tough economic times and it’s time to exercise fiscal prudence.”

Describe a good decision made by the previous council, and why you believe it was good.
“I think a good decision made by the council was entering into the Stronger Together Agreement with the town and the county. I think it’s a good opportunity to show partnerships and work on initiatives that can be win-win-win for all municipalities and all the folks who live in our community. I’d like to see, as an incoming councillor, the new council continue to work on that relationship and build it.”

 

Dick Wymenga

“The more you show that flag and the more [RCMP] you have out there, the less criminals you’ll have.”
Dick Wymenga has lived in this area for most of his life and has spent two terms as a county councilor. “I’ve sat a on a lot boards and communities that have been involved with agriculture for 20 years. I was on the policy advisory committee for Agricore United.”

What big budget items should or shouldn’t be funded? Why/why not?
“For instance, the county is proposing a huge administration building, which I feel that money could be better spent elsewhere. We are in desperate need of better internet service throughout the county. We have parts of the county without service and lots of us have service that really cannot accommodate home-based businesses. A lot of my farm business is field mapping and GPS, and the internet service is not fast enough for that. I think the county needs to change its priorities that way. Also we need enhanced recreation facilities in the county. For instance, we could really use an ag field house. Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports and we don’t have an indoor soccer pitch. We need to do something like that for the kids. We have to keep our young people engaged. The more you keep people engaged and involved, it makes better people.”

Is there a specific municipal policy you feel needs immediate attention from the incoming council?
“We have to address crime in our area, rural crime is really escalating, they’re stealing pickups and quads, anything of value. I think what we need to do is focus more with the RCMP. We have our community peace officers, but they are relatively traffic and infrastructure, we need to lean towards enhanced RCMP to look after criminal elements in our county. Other counties have worked that way with enhanced RCMP officers. I want to get into more police and RCMP presence in the county. The more you show that flag and the more you have out there, the less criminals you’ll have. At one time I didn’t have to lock anything up, now I have to lock everything up. Even if I just go into the house for dinner, I lock my truck up.”

Describe a bad decision made by the previous council, and why you believe it was bad.
“I think them trying to build an administration building outside the community is a bad thing. I think we have to keep our administration in our community, even our fire halls. I’d like to see them stay in the community. We have a hard time getting volunteers as it is, but if we keep things in the community, for one thing it gives us better fire protection in that community and also, it gives us more community pride, more community involvement and more volunteers.”

Describe a good decision made by the previous council, and why you believe it was good.
“I think they are doing a better job of looking after the gravel roads than they have in the past – which is something I had previously pushed a past councilor. I think they’re doing a better job about that. Before, the graders didn’t cover the roads enough, but now, after adding more grader beats, they are now being better maintained.”