The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Meet the Candidates - Village of Caroline Council

Editor’s note: There are seven candidates vying for a seat on the Village of Caroline council. Candidate interviews appear in the Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 editions of The Mountaineer. Corby Parsons declined an interview.

 

Mary Bugbee

“I believe that you have to have honesty with the people you’re representing and integrity, which is telling the truth even when the people asking don’t want to hear it.”

Mary Bugbee has spent two terms on Caroline Village Council. She believes that a councillor needs honesty with the people she represents and integrity—which means telling the truth even if residents don’t want to hear it. She ran a business with her late husband for seven years, which she believes has given her the ability to deal with people.
“I believe that you have to have honesty with the people you’re representing and integrity, which is telling the truth even when the people asking don’t want to hear it,” said Bugbee.

What big budget items do you think should or should not be funded and why?
“I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, one way or another. I’m sure that there are big budget items that are coming up that would need to be funded. But, I think having been on this last council, we’ve kind of got the right budget things put into place so that the village will succeed and hopefully grow.”

Is there a specific municipal policy that you feel needs immediate attention from incoming council?
“A policy for council to address would be to continue working towards growing the village, whether for it to be for more houses to be built or for industry to be coming into the village. Creating those bylaws that are needed to expand so that people want to build or to bring in light industrial or any of those things; that it makes it a little easier for them to get that done.”

Describe what you believe to be a bad decision made by the previous council.
“I can’t think of one that would be bad. We don’t always agree on everything with every councillor, but I think we’ve worked out everything that needed to be worked out as far as the decisions that were made.”

Describe what you believe to be a good decision made by the previous council.
“Doing the infrastructure under Hwy. 54 before the government decided to do the paving on it. Things that most village people don’t see but things that we’ve accomplished as a council, like the upgrading of the water system, the upgrading of the sewer system, the putting in of the storm sewers on Main Street and the infrastructure under the highway.

 

Kim Ceasor

“I’ve seen things proposed in the past, I’ve seen success in the community and I’ve seen failures and I feel that I have an idea of what may work. I also feel the need to let our community be a unique one.”

Kim Ceasor has spent her whole life in and around Caroline. She has had a diverse array of occupations, including running her own business, which she believes gives her an understanding of people, but, most importantly she feels she understands the people of Caroline. She is a past council member for the village, having served 15 years ago.
“I have been here and I intend to be here. I have no plans for the future of moving, so I have a genuine interest in making this community a successful one,” said Ceasor. “I’ve seen things proposed in the past, I’ve seen successes in the community and I’ve seen failures and I feel that I have an idea of what may work. I also feel the need to let our community be a unique one.”

What big budget items do you think should or should not be funded and why?
“I don’t know what the village has on the books for big budget items coming up, and I guess I’m looking forward to having some insight into its five-year plan and the ten-year plan. I did do three years on village council about 15 years ago, so I can see how things unfold. We’ve recently had some really major upgrades to Main Street, the infrastructure underneath Main Street. I think it’s wonderful that those things were addressed.
“I look forward to looking into some of these things.”

Is there a specific municipal policy that you feel needs immediate attention from incoming council?
“I think overall we have a fairly tight-knit community. I think we have definitely some minor things to go over but I don’t see any major problems. I know everyone is really keyed on the fact that Caroline has really high taxes. I’m one of those taxpayers, I pay those taxes every year. I’m definitely going to do what I can to keep those taxes as low as we possibly can. At the same time I know it’s important that we maintain our infrastructure and the services that everyone has come to expect. So, hopefully I’d like to find that healthy balance there.”

Describe what you believe to be a bad decision made by the previous council.
“I think, honestly, the previous council we had did a pretty good job overall.”

Describe what you believe to be a good decision made by the previous council.
“ [Water and sewer] infrastructure is really the only one I can think of, it is nice to know that that is done.”

 

Samantha LaFont

“I think we really need to address communication between council and the residents. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication or lack of communication that’s happening.”

Samantha LaFont has been a Caroline resident for the last three years. Her kids attend the school and participate in hockey and figure skating, which, she said, have given her a platform for hearing what the community wants.
“I don’t know what qualifies anyone, really, for the job [of councillor],” said Lafont.” I’m always out and about and hearing what people are concerned about and things that would be good for the community.”

What big budget item do you think should or should not be funded and why?
“We really need to do some work to the sidewalks in the community, and the lack of sidewalks. Keep making our community bigger and better and bring more residents to the village.”

Is there a specific municipal policy that you feel needs immediate attention from incoming council?
“I think we really need to address the communication between council and the residents. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication or lack of communication that’s happening.”

Describe what you believe to be a bad decision made by the previous council.
“I think with the construction on Main Street and the new road being put in there brought a lot of complaints from residents for not having their steps or approaches put back in when the new sidewalks were put in, and no communication between the council and the residents being heard. There seemed to be a lot of arguments that come out of it that could have been avoided if there had just been more of an understanding from both sides.”

Describe what you believe to be a good decision made by the previous council.
“We definitely needed Main Street fixed up and some of our infrastructure worked on to keep our little village looking as good as it possibly can and as functional as it can be.”

 

Rachele Peters

“We need to move forward with a broader tax base instead of penalizing the few that live here.”

Rachele Peters has lived in the Caroline area for 23 years, raising her kids in the village. She has taken many certificate courses from the University of Alberta, including municipal politics, governance, political science and leadership. She has an educational background in municipal politics, and has spent seven years on the Caroline Village council.

What big budget items do you think should or should not be funded and why?
“Being a municipal government, they should be looking at dealing with the infrastructure within the village and the services. That is what we do. At the same time we need to try to maintain the tax rate without killing our poor taxpayers. So far, within the past three years we have tried to expand our tax base with further development to draw in more businesses. We moved over to the split tax rate between businesses and residents, which gives the residents a bit of a break because businesses can write off their taxes whereas residents cannot. We need to move forward with building a broader tax base to draw from instead of penalizing the few that live here. In actuality we did really well in the last census, we were the only municipality in the county that grew.”

Is there a specific municipal policy that you feel needs immediate attention from incoming council?
“I would not say so. We have redone our intermunicipal land use bylaw, we redid the IDP, and we’ve really gone through and reviewed and revised all of the bylaws over the last three years with our staff. We did a fantastic job, we’ve got a couple left to work on and that’s the IDP and the MDP.”

Describe what you believe to be a bad decision made by the previous council.
“By no means would I say we have had a perfect four-year term, but I think we’ve all grown and learned and moved forward and have put our taxpayers needs first. Maybe not their wants, but their needs for sure, with the infrastructure and with the future projects we also have on the go.
“I think all councils make mistakes. As long as they grow and learn from them and it’s not at the expense of taxpayers then sometimes mistakes are good mistakes. As long as it’s not an expensive one.”

Describe what you believe to be a good decision made by the previous council.
“Moving forward with the highway and the infrastructure underneath the highway. When the province approached us to redo the highway we did have the option to not redo the infrastructure and they would pave right through, but that would have cost taxpayers quite a few more million dollars if we had decided to go that route. Instead, we as a council bit the bullet and moved forward and replaced the infrastructure earlier than we had planned because it was cheaper in the long run. It was a better decision to make.

 

John Rimmer

“There are numerous things to be taken care of, but my main concern is our tax load and our infrastructure deficit.”

John Rimmer has lived in and around Caroline for nearly 50 years. He is a retired exploration geologist, and has served on panels and committees within the county and the City of Calgary, he also volunteers his time at the Wheels of Time Museum.

What big budget items do you think should or should not be funded and why?
“Well infrastructure, our water and sewer within the village needs to be upgraded within the next four to 50 years. Because it is old and deemed a deficit for the village because it is getting quite antiquated. It’s going to be a high priority.”

Is there a specific municipal policy that you feel needs immediate attention from incoming council?
“There are numerous things that have to be taken care of, but my main concern is our tax load and our infrastructure deficit. We have a limited tax base. There’s a lot greater strain on our community being able to service [it’s population].”

Describe what you believe to be a bad decision made by the previous council.
“I think in general the previous council has made a lot of effort to clean up and make sure the village got organized properly. So to say that there was any one particular thing they did wrong, I would have to think about it.”

Describe what you believe to be a good decision made by the previous council.
“I would say that we made a decision to go ahead and spend over $1 million to upgrade our main water and sewer line under Hwy. 54 on Main Street. It hadn’t been upgraded since the mid-50s and it was just a matter of time before that system broke down and caused us a lot more grief and possibly a lot more capital.”

 

Bill Sumyk

“We need to have the reserves and resources put aside for dealing with emergency issues that may arise over time.”

Bill Sumyk said that his experience dealing with the village council and residents is what qualifies him for the position. “Well, I’ve been the deputy mayor of Caroline for the last four years. I’ve gained knowledge and experience over the last four years here, of dealing with the political aspects and residents of the community,” he said.

What big budget items do you think should or should not be funded and why?
“The biggest budget item that we have coming from the past was really reserves or revenue set aside for upcoming infrastructure repairs and other repairs to or building assets of the village. My goal was to keep the taxes as low as possible for all of the residents and without big increases, and being a taxpayer myself I don’t want to pay higher taxes and I’m sure most of the residents don’t as well, so we’re trying to keep it where we can put money aside without hurting the residents [and businesses] tax-wise.”

Is there a specific municipal policy that you feel needs immediate attention from incoming council?
“Bylaws need updating and we’ve done a bunch over the past that weren’t proper and were outdated, so that was one of the big things. We need to have the reserves and resources put aside for dealing with emergency issues that may arise over time.
“Another one we have is the residential curling rink needs repairs done to it, but that’s a fair sized budget item we need to deal with it. Our skateboard system was completed. Anything to do with the environment of course, with our new government everything is turning more green and we have to keep that in mind for the future.”

Describe what you believe to be a bad decision made by the previous council.
“I’m trying to think of what was bad here. Well, before we used to have lots of crime which affected the businesses and the residents, but we’ve been working with the Town of Rocky and the county and of course that improved. But before we never had that service and it was really poor and really hard to communicate. One of the bad decisions we had with the previous council, before I actually got in, was that there was no working relationship with the county, but we’ve got that on track.
“Also, there was never any reserves saved, now we’ve got that corrected and moved forward from there.”

Describe what you believe to be a good decision made by the previous council.
“One good decision was when we redid our Main Street infrastructure here. With the transportation department coming in to do paving we worked in conjunction with them to save taxpayers money. You know, they put up part of the bill and we got the rest which kept the taxes lower for the residents in town. I know it was an inconvenience to the businesses, for what they suffered and lost I feel bad for that, but it’s something that saved us all money tax-wise and it wasn’t done for years and it had to be done. Now, we should be good for another 30 years hopefully, for that part of it.”