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.
Not one contractor in the town of Creston was allowed to bid on building the new low-cost housing. Please explain how it is that not one piece of work went to a Creston contractor.
Ron Toyota: “We were not the contractor. We were not the developer. The owner of this facility is BC Housing, which is the B.C. government. … They were built in Penticton. … They were trucked here. BC Housing let the contract; it is their responsibility. … We were only contributing the land. … It’s a very good start toward seniors and disabled housing for the town of Creston and the Creston Valley.”
Ingrid Voigt: “I guess it’s our responsibility to start lobbying the B.C. government on this one.”
Scott Veitch: “Any of those things that you feel aren’t being listened to … you need to bring them forward to whatever council there is.” When he was constructing a building for his business, he told his contractor that he had to use as many local workers as possible. He paid more for local workers “because we thought it was the right thing to do.”
Wes Graham: “We need to lobby the provincial government when it comes to matters like that.”
Rhonda Barter: “I’m in [agreement] with Ingrid: keep lobbying that there be changes.”
Ed Vondracek: “Small towns are getting crushed one way or another, every which way, employment-wise and salary-wise. We had well-established, high-paying jobs here, going back 10 years ago. And one family at a time they moved out to the bigger cities for employment because the government shifted something around.”
Joanna Wilson: “The Town of Creston does support local businesses as much as possible. If we could change the way things are done, I think we would certainly want to.”
Jerry Schmalz: “That is a very valid point. There is no way I can tell a contractor who they can and cannot hire. … It’s the same thing as the Ramada Inn. The Ramada Inn has a general contractor. The general contractor can choose his own labourers … and we have no control over that.”