The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Meet the Candidates - Clearwater County Council - Division 7

Editor’s note: Long-time councillor and reeve Pat Alexander is up against newcomer Michelle Swanson in Division 7. Both are vying to represent county residents north of Hwy. 12.



Pat Alexander

 “This community has huge potential and a lot to offer.”

Pat Alexander has served Clearwater County for 13 years. He has extensive background in farming and oil and gas and is looking for a fifth term on council.

What big budget items should or shouldn’t be funded, and why?
“The one I feel strongly about is the north area structure plan (NASP) and the north development. In order for our community to move forward we need to have a place for business to go. When we get calls now, one a month, looking to set up business here or build, we really have no place for them. They’re not interested in something like DiCorp did, the hassle they went through, a year of regulatory process. That gets around in Alberta and we have issues attracting. The ASP reduces the red tape involved and speeds up the process of permitting, because the ASP will have all the designated uses.
“A lot of people are associating our new office with the north ASP. Two separate issues. The office is on hold, the time it’s on hold is unknown. The focus needs to be on providing an area in the county for light industrial and some commercial to stimulate our economic development.”

Is there a specific municipal policy you feel will need immediate attention from the incoming council?
 “We`ve always kept them fairly updated, our policies, and reviewed when there are issues. When  something needs to be changed we`ve always brought them forward and done it. In the next term, there will be most likely a review of the municipal development plan, potentially the land use bylaws, those are things that always consume a considerable amount of time.” 

Describe a bad decision made by the Previous /current council, and why you believe it was bad.
 “We need to find better ways to communicate positive things that happen in this community, because there are positive things happening and we just don’t get that out there enough. This community has huge potential and a lot to offer. If we could portray that positive attitude that is here and motivate the people to see the good things going forward.”

Describe a good decision made by the previous/current council, and why you believe it was good.
 “Moving forward with our north area development. I’ve worked on this for four years with community members and developers who at first did not want to be named. We’ve had significant hurdles to go through to get something happening. Four years of perseverance and we have it. There are still people who don’t like the NASP, but the developers are the ones who have to do the developing, and they did the investigation and said that’s where it made economic sense for them to be, where they could get enough land to start investing. It’s really hard to have a long-term developer try to develop on one quarter of land and nowhere to go beyond that.”


Michelle Swanson

“I want to make sure that we have a community that’s pulling in the same direction.”

Michelle Swanson is running for Clearwater County council in division 7. She has a background in agriculture and a long-time involvement with 4-H. She has diplomas in both human resources and agribusiness.
“I’m ready to do this and get in the mud, so to speak. I want to make sure we have a community that’s pulling in the same direction,” said Swanson.

What big budget items should or shouldn’t be funded, and why?
“We need to take a stance on community enhancement, as far as the connectivity issue dealt with, and that is what are we going to do as a county and drawing a line in the sand as far as getting our community connected. The existing businesses, the tourism, the homeschoolers; there’s so many positives that I’m hoping we will decrease the depopulation and attract people to come here.
“As far as where we shouldn’t fund, the county administration building has been a big contentious issue for the last few years. We still haven’t had the consultation process that was promised back in May of last year. If we have the consultation process with the public and it is an overwhelming yes from the public we should go with it, but if it’s a no we definitely need to stop.”

Is there a specific municipal policy you feel will need immediate attention from the incoming council?
 “We need to address, I’m not sure if it is a policy because when you read policies they are so broadly focused, but we need a policy to where our community engagement is open-access. Where we can start giving the public an opportunity to watch our council meetings live-streamed online, little things like that. That policy would mean an openness and ease of access because many people have trouble finding that information.”

Describe a bad decision made by the Previous /current council, and why you believe it was bad.
 “It was a bad decision, and I’m not sure if council made it or administration, but when they rolled out the administration building on a side table there was also the north area structure plan and it didn’t seem to be highlighted in importance. So therefore, by putting the building first, which circumvented the whole area plan, because the north area structure plan was basically futuristic, forthcoming, it needed to be highlighted first so we could see it substantiated.”

Describe a Good decision made by the Previous/current council, and why you believe it was Good.
 “I think they’ve done an excellent job by forming the David Thompson tourism group. I think that was awesome; we need to support existing tourism businesses. Not only that, but there’s so much more that can be done. We’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg on that one.”