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.
How will you continue to develop the downtown beautification process and extend that to Northwest Boulevard?
Justin Lysohirka: “In order to beautify downtown, we definitely need to get the trucks off the roads. … Definitely with the Ramada we will have attract more people, and if it’s just garbage on the sides of the roads and it looks ugly, they’re not going to want to come here and stay in that hotel.”
Ingrid Voigt: “I will work really hard with council as a member to support turning Creston into a destination area. … I will encourage a fine arts school here to help some of the artists here. … If we have a fine arts school, it will encourage more people to come to the area. If I had my way, it would be integrated into the tourism destination area.”
Malcolm Ferguson: “That is something I would like to get involved in … to maintain the downtown area and the beautification of Northwest Boulevard. … A lot of people like to close their eyes as they drive through there because it’s just a great industrial drive and there’s nothing really to look at.”
Renee Kyle: “This kind of goes in with the possibility of less truck traffic down there.” Canyon Street could become a walking street, blocking traffic altogether. “The logistics might be difficult, but it’s a thought. As for Northwest Boulevard, I can sum it up with one word: trees.”
Scott Veitch: “We need to finish the present plan. Once we finish that, put the brakes on until the economy turns around.” Links to trails, parks and green spaces need to be addressed. “There is a huge disconnect between downtown and Alice Siding. We need to change that and the two areas need to be more integrated.”
Wes Graham: “We completed two-and-a-half phases of a three-phase project, then it got shelved with this last council. … I think that we need to continue to work on the beautification of downtown, and there was future planning out into Northwest Boulevard so we could actually have a current theme. … I’m a huge supporter of that and making it so it is walk-friendly and bike-friendly.”
Rhonda Barter: “We could probably get those trees donated to go along Northwest Boulevard so it wouldn’t cost us more money. … It’s a tough economic time. You look at a town’s budget like a household budget. … You’re not going to starve your kids to paint a room. If there’s not enough money to do those rooms, then you’ve got to feed and house those people.”
Ed Vondracek: “Northwest Boulevard is a highway. … We had been pushing to put in culverts and cover up the ditches. … But highways said, ‘No. All we’re going to do is give you a third turning lane in the centre of the road.’ … We should carry on negotiating with them. … Eventually, they will work with us.”
Joanna Wilson: “This council has been working very hard to get the truck traffic off main street, as you probably all are aware. It would be lovely to have a friendly pedestrian environment downtown. We definitely will be supporting that, I’m sure, in the future.” Northwest Boulevard has restaurants as well as industrial businesses, which need to be integrated with the rest of town. “It should be very, very pretty.”
Joe Snopek: The previous council fought, and is still fighting, highways over Northwest Boulevard. “The trees that are downtown I believe were $1,000 apiece, so that kind of gives you an idea of what the trees cost.”
Jerry Schmalz: He is an advocate of traffic light the Pine Street-Northwest Boulevard and Cavell Street-Northwest Boulevard intersections. “I’ve been advocating flags and lighting along Northwest Boulevard since I got on council. I don’t think downtown stops at the Royal Bank.” Council has decided to keep parking meters off the street for another year.