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 ideas do you have for improving bike trails and making cycling safer in Creston?
Justin Lysohirka: “I would like to see a bike lane along Canyon Street, but in order to do that, we have a catch-22 because the roads are too narrow because of the beautification process. If we got the traffic off the road, it wouldn’t be as bulky of vehicles, so maybe we could put a bike lane along there.”
Ingrid Voigt: “Along that same route, I would like to see plug-ins for electric cars or scooters and the bikes that we have available in this area. … I think we have some good ideas in place and I would definitely support working with the committee on these things.”
Malcolm Ferguson: A lot of people like to ride, but “there is no place to lock them up downtown. That situation should be rectified if we’re going be a bike-friendly town.” Creston should be promoted as a cycling destination, but the chamber of commerce’s advertising budget is “very small, and doesn’t go very far. … I think we should do whatever we can to make Creston and the whole environment a bike-friendly place to live.”
Renee Kyle: She would like to work with the school district and have children taught cycling safety as a group. “I’d like to see some education happening. I think that’s really important. Of course, bike paths, but there’s always a cost attached to that. And I’m not certain if there’s bylaws for helmets and licensing, so those are also things to think about.”
Scott Veitch: Bike paths have “proven health and social benefits.” In town, “we need paths along the new trails, creeksides, green spaces, ditches and so forth. Streets need to be marked and lanes need to be created where wide enough. How about a public bike station with air, washrooms, and water?” There are no specified bike parking areas. Out of town, wider road shoulders and better promotion to the International Selkirk Loop as a biking destination are needed. He has spoken to one entity that is interested in bringing a bike competition to Creston.
Wes Graham: “I’m a huge proponent of trails in general and being able to have walking trails and biking trails. Having complete loops, where you can actually get around the community, would be essential, as well as outside the community.” Cyclists can ride from Cranbrook to Kimberley. This issue requires thinking outside the box.
Rhonda Barter: There have been some great proposals by Trails for Creston Valley. “It looked awesome. … If I do get on town council, I would like to look at it farther.”
Ed Vondracek: “We did have Creston as a bike centre for a short period of time. We had bike racing here. … But then we ran out of volunteers, and when we ran out of volunteers, we ran out of having a bike competition.”
Joanna Wilson: She once rode from Creston to Ottawa on a 10-speed. “I’m definitely a proponent of biking and those kinds of recreational activities that improve your health and expand your vision of the world. I have not done a lot of biking around here because I would appreciate paved shoulders, bike lanes and things like that.” Amenities, including public parking, would also be welcome.
Joe Snopek: He is in favour of biking and walking trails. Council was discussing a trail along the Canadian Pacific Railway from the east end of town to north end of town. ”It was going along good and all of sudden it became and issue of fencing it off from rail, so that kind of dropped dead.”
Jerry Schmalz: “Having wider shoulders would be a great asset. … Town council is working on new bike trails, in partnership with rotary club, and they’re planning to put a bike park between the RCMP building and Ninth Avenue. … Over the last five years or so, we’ve been giving away bicycles and helmets as prizes that were drawn for the Santa Claus parade.”
Ed McNiven: “We’re trying to work with the transportation department on the intersection at Erickson back road and 33. There’s no lighting and it’s dark. You come up there and you can hardly find the intersection.” In parts of Area B, the roads are narrow with steep drop-offs. “I was out in Canyon-Lister today and those roads were made for Model T Fords. How are you going to put a trail on the side of a road? If you have somebody walking on that road and you have two vehicles coming, somebody has to stop.”