Creston candidates questioned at forum 1: Affordable family housing

Web Lead

  • Nov. 15, 2011 9:00 a.m.

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 are you willing and able to do to develop affordable family housing in Creston? For those on council, what have you done?

Justin Lysohirka: It’s important to get families to the community, and have housing for families, seniors and the disabled. “I’m going to speak to builders about making homes less luxurious.”

Ingrid Voigt: “Perhaps the city of Creston could make some land available. … It would help in attracting young families to the area. We have a very senior tax base here, and these people are retiring.” The young are needed to pay for the tax structure.

Malcolm Ferguson: “There is a proposal to build up to 30 town homes for low-income families. That might attract young families to the valley. … I got quite excited when I heard about this project that may or may not get underway.”

Renee Kyle: “I believe I’ve heard from a number of people that too much of the tax and too much of what is spent is shuffled down to the civic level.” Get the “province to subsidize subsidized housing.”

Scott Veitch: “In most communities, there is a plan to partner with BC Housing. I would also contact the real estate foundation to get a grant to work with Smart Growth BC. These people could work with us with overall land use program.”

Wes Graham: Rather than focusing on affordable rentals, “what about the potential of actually owning own home?” Council has worked with the housing society and helped with a grant-in-aid from Columbia Basin Trust, as well as donated land for low-income housing. “We’re headed down the right track, hopefully.”

Rhonda Barter: the federal government should be lobbied to create a national housing strategy. Many College of the Rockies students can’t afford housing, and renovating Pioneer Villa could help them. “It would take very little work right now to open that up as a situation where people could be housed affordably.”

Ed Vondracek: As a former councillor, a previous council “designated a portion of the Crestbrook property to go toward affordable housing.” He would aim to work with organizations and individuals.

Joanna Wilson: Council donated land for seniors housing. She is the town council representative to the Creston Valley Community Housing Society. “We have been working with the ministry and Canada Mortgage and Housing. We are trying to locate the land for it and I will be working very hard in that direction.”

Joe Snopek: “Pioneer Villa is a building we should have access to.” He has spoken to the owner of bunker (the foundation at the corner of Northwest Boulevard and Vancouver Street), who is willing to sit down and do some different planning.

Jerry Schmalz: “In my profession as a realtor, we’re always dealing with housing. … There is also a very high demand for rental units. It’s all based on supply and demand. When there’s a demand, the price goes up.” Attended an affordable housing seminar and learned from the example of Whistler.

Ed McNiven: “I will be working for people in Area B. We will be working in conjunction with the town.”