On Nov. 12, over 100 Creston Valley residents attended a public forum for candidates running in the Nov. 19 civic elections. Organized by Tamara Fox, Joanne Ferry and Jesse Willicome (who acted as moderator), the forum was the only opportunity for voters to question the candidates running for town council, mayor and Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B director.
Of Creston’s 13 town council candidates, 10 — Justin Lysohirka, Ingrid Voigt, Malcolm Ferguson, Renee Kyle, Scott Veitch, Wes Graham, Rhonda Barter, Ed Vondracek, Joanna Wilson and Jerry Schmalz — attended, while Tanya Ducharme, Judy Gadicke and Louis Mihaly did not.
Both candidates for mayor, Ron Toyota and Joe Snopek, attended, although Toyota didn’t arrived until the fifth question was read.
Ed McNiven was the sole RDCK candidate at the forum; incumbent John Kettle did not attend.
The candidates fielded both pre-selected questions and impromptu questions from the audience.
What do you do now to support the arts, and what will you do?
Ron Toyota: The town annually gives the Community Arts Council of Creston a $10,000 grant in aid, but that’s a “small part in the whole picture.” A long-term business plan is needed for the arts community. “The only way we’re going to get there is by getting all those that are involved to try an develop a plan and then go from there and then find funding.”
Justin Lysohirka: A fine arts school is needed. “Also, saving our auditorium is huge. I was involved in drama for years in high school, and that auditorium was home.” More art is needed on the street. “All those tourists would think we’re a better place.”
Ingrid Voigt: A fine arts school, either downtown or in the area, is needed to make Creston a destination. “If we make Creston a place to come to, either to learn fine arts or enjoy fine arts and the orchard country we have in the outlying areas, we need to work together.”
Malcolm Ferguson: He recently joined the arts council’s board as secretary. The organization was losing members. “They weren’t being supported by the arts council, so we decided to turn that around. We have a brand new executive and five new directors. I think now we can proceed and do something for the arts. We are very interested in putting in a central facility in Creston for arts and artists.”
Renee Kyle: She has been involved with the Creston Art Club. “I think there a little artist in all of us, and when we can’t draw it or sing it, we let somebody else do it for us. … The current executive of the arts council is dynamic. … I think there’s a lot of really neat thing happening and the arts are essential for a community to have an identity.”
Scott Veitch: “We have to have art and we have to have culture, because life is pretty darn boring without it. … It’s not all about what councillors can do to create an arts and cultural centre. … We should strike a task force to examine the potential for it to become a reality. Arts and culture can only add further synergy to our town.”
Wes Graham: The town annually gives the Community Arts Council of Creston a $10,000 grant in aid. “We found that was a great way to let the arts divvy out grants to groups in the valley. We also work with them on advocating at provincial level for other grants. … It is a big part of who we are.”
Rhonda Barter: When she was 17, she earned a scholarship to the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and is a musician and actor. “We have an abundance of artists, musicians and actors in this valley, and if we can help them in any way … that’s what I’m for.”
Ed Vondracek: A $10,000 grant to the arts council is better than smaller grants to numerous groups. “When we give them a $10,000 grant, they are able to get it matched. I’ve worked in stained glass for many years, so I’m sensitive to the culture and having arts in our community.”
Joanna Wilson: She is president of the Creston Community Auditorium Society, and advocated having arts, culture and heritage put into the strategic plan. “I have always been an advocate for the arts. … The arts in this community are so important, the performing arts, as well as the visual. I would love to see public art on our main street and Northwest Boulevard.”
Joe Snopek: He was on council when the $10,000 grant began to be given to the arts council. “I support the arts because I’m a wood carver.”
Jerry Schmalz: He has been active in drama and with the Singing Christmas Tree. “We need to have a better agreement with the school district with keeping the auditorium affordable for us to use. We fundraised and put a lot of energy into getting that auditorium for the community, and now we’re being held ransom by the school district.”