In the District of Highlands, current Mayor Ken Williams will be acclaimed as he ran unopposed. There are six councillor seats to be claimed with nine candidates running. We asked each candidate to outline the most important thing council can do to improve the lives of residents. Here are their responses listed alphabetically.
The most important thing council can do is recognize the need to act now to put measures in place to tackle climate mitigation, energy and food security and community resilience. Improving the lives of our community members requires understanding the issues currently impacting peoples’ lives, as well as those approaching far too quickly as a result of climate change, and investing in the social, physical and natural infrastructure appropriate for both.
With a rapidly changing climate, inflation, global instability, inequality, supply chain disruption and all the local impacts, there is much we can do to build Highlands’ resilience and support community well-being.
Eight years on council has given me experience to continue working on community goals while keeping taxes low. Work includes: 1. Protecting shared natural assets like water and vegetation. Clean drinking water is essential, while stormwater can be very damaging. 2. Increasing road safety and building trails and bike lanes to enable shared and separate use by motorists, pedestrians, bicycles and wildlife. 3. Protecting our parks from damaging overuse.
The Highlands has always relied on strong community involvement to support the many initiatives that allow the community to function. The community has evolved, with many new faces and young families, and we’ve lost the older ones that have aged out or passed on, the older ones that fought to create the Highlands in the 1990s. Council has failed to connect with the new residents.
Therefore, the most important thing is get out into the community, make connections, engage young families and re-support our volunteer groups, as we can’t afford to hamper their energy and efforts and cause them to disconnect, which we are beginning to see. Council needs to prioritize opportunities to reconnect with the community.
I believe that what the Highlands need is a good long-term plan in order to prepare us for the future. With the uncertainties of today’s world, ever-rising prices, and high cost of living and rising inflation rates, this district must have in place a five and 10-year plan, reviewed every year in order to put us in a strong financial position in order to keep taxes low and help every citizen in this community.
If we continue to rely primarily on a residential tax base, I’m afraid that we will become a community of only the very wealthy. My priority on council would be to plan for sensible development that fits with Highlands values to ensure we have the financial stability to maintain the rural lifestyle we treasure for all of us. My complete bio and platform can be found on our website at kandmbrotherston.ca.
Since 1996, Highlands has designated the South Highlands as an appropriate area for growth under the vision laid out in the official community plan. To do that we need to ensure that zoning respects the character of our community and that building respects the environment. I also believe that perfection is the enemy of the good. We have to move forward but always with the goal of zero carbon emissions in mind. Relying primarily on a residential tax base to ensure our financial future will ultimately change the community we all love. My complete bio and platform can be found on our website at kandmbrotherston.ca.
Develop a Highlands climate emergency strategic plan and implement to address impacts from climate change and improve climate preparedness with adaptation strategies such as: continued improvements to district infrastructure towards increased resiliency from weather events, provide public educational information to reduce vulnerabilities, monitor density, implement water report recommendations and re-establish sustainable potable well water now and into the future, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and maintain natural areas. Annually improve the district’s Assets Management Plan. Planning and budgeting for plan projects now reduces much higher future costs. Such strategies contribute to Highlands resiliency and residents’ well-being.
Council can and must maintain the rural character of our Highlands and assert it in the region, ensure that our assets – including infrastructure, water and natural assets – are maintained and enhanced sustainably, complete our secondary housing policy, continue to carry out and enhance our groundwater monitoring program, encourage community-building activities, and implement our Climate Leadership Plan so that our residents can live in a safe, friendly, supportive and sustainable municipality.
Councils should consider as many perspectives as possible when making decisions and vote for the best decision for the residents and for the district. Not every member of council may vote the same and not every resident will agree with council’s decision but the debate on the decision (motion) should provide residents with enough information to understand the reasons behind the decision. Council’s responsibilities include roads, the environment, fire services. These expensive services must be maintained and managed without raising taxes. This is accomplished through careful planning.
Advance voting starts on Oct. 5 with general election day on Oct. 15. For more information on how or where to vote, check out your municipality’s website. You can find election night results, and more coverage in the lead-up, under the election tab at goldstreamgazette.com.
READ MORE: 2022 Election Coverage
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