In November 2013, my first “coffee talk” was held at the Creston Valley Bakery with 12 citizens attending. My primary purpose in organizing this event was to promote better communication with myself and our local protection officers. Our local RCMP detachment commander, our fire chief and/or his assistant and our public safety compliance officer have participated on a regular basis. Since then, we have tried to have a session every two months and on Feb. 25 we held our 13th get together at Black Bear Books.
For the first time, I invited a special guest, Hugh Eberle from Nelson, the district manager of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, to answer questions and comments regarding highway issues. He was a few minutes late and apologized for this, the Kootenay Pass was having avalanche control with 20-minute closures and even he in his official vehicle had to wait. He and newly appointed area manager Heidi Postnikoff were pleased to attend and Hugh suggested that he would like to come back for a fall coffee talk, as he appreciated the local input that was presented.
One memorable coffee talk that I recall was the one during our last election (Oct. 30, 2014) held at Renee’s Roadhouse Diner on Highway 21 with our largest group being 23 in attendance. Included in that group were four individuals who were in campaign mode. One mayoral candidate even commented to those attending that if he were elected mayor, these coffee talks would continue during his watch.
It is important to note that participation is not restricted to the citizens of the Town of Creston; we have had several attending who live in other areas of the Creston Valley. At one session, a tourist from Vancouver came into the Real Food Cafe and because the restaurant was not open for serving, he stayed to have coffee and listen to our conversations.
The main purpose of this event is an opportunity for citizens to meet with myself, the RCMP staff sergeant, our fire chief and our public safety compliance officer. The biggest takeaway for me is to listen to what concerns may be brought to us and we even have received appreciative and thank you comments, which really help me in knowing that my efforts are not all in vain.
Our next coffee talk will be 9:30-11 a.m. April 14 at Black Bear Books.
Ron Toyota has been the mayor of Creston since 2008.