Election 2014: Three vie for Area E

All candidate forums for Area E rural director were held in Rock Creek, Beaverdell and Big White.

Area E Rural Director incumbent Bill Baird (left) speaks at the Rock Creek all candidates forum as rivals Bill Bosovich and Vicki Gee look on. Moderator Terry Keough sits at the end of the table.

The three candidates running to represent Area E of Regional District of Kootenay Boundary for the next four years had three opportunities to get their message out to the voters in all candidate forums. The first was at Big White on Oct. 22. The second in Rock Creek on Nov. 2 and the third was in Beaverdell on Nov. 6.

Incumbent Bill Baird, who has held the position for the past 22 years, is recuperating from surgery and was able to attend only the Rock Creek forum on Nov. 2.

Baird called the Kettle River Management Plan, “the most important project I have ever been involved in and I would like to be involved with the implementation.”

Candidate Vicki Gee identified economic development and provision of services as her top priorities. “We need to think beyond resource based industries and we can’t wait for the next big industry to move into our area,” Gee told the Rock Creek forum.

“We already have a big industry and that’s tourism. In regard to services it is not just a matter of attracting people to the area we need to keep people in the area, that applies to both our youth and our seniors. When we look at the Vital Signs Survey that shows that 33 per cent of residents in the Boundary have low-income households that’s double the province and double Canada and it’s 20 per cent in Grand Forks. It is a pretty big issue here.”

Bill Bosovich also identified economic development – specifically small business development as the way forward. He said he would like to see tax incentive programs that would encourage small business.

Gee pledged to look for opportunities to share economic development dollars within the communities and to communicate with people who are doing things on the ground.

Bosovich suggested looking at underdeveloped agricultural land and attracting industry such as a small pellet plant. He said small businesses each with two or three employees can add up.

Baird offered to attract new small companies, to lobby to make economic development easier at the provincial level and to work toward anther, larger community forest.

Other topics that were thrown at the candidates included their vision of how to improve communication with constituents, library services, their priorities for environmental and wilderness issues and zoning.

In regard to zoning Baird said that no politician would force something onto the voters. He said the parts of Area that have zoning were communities that asked for it.

Bosovich said he was generally not in favour of zoning, but could see the case for it in residential areas.

Gee stated that zoning and planning are not black and white issues; that they need to be done community-by-community rather than across the entire area.

Seven Beaverdell residents turned out for their forum on Nov. 6. Many of the same questions came up again—improving communication with residents.

Resident Kate Crest asked what role the regional district might play in getting a provincial park or campsite in the area since Beaverdell is the gateway to the Boundary. She said it would provide summer employment and high school credits for the students. “People need a purpose to stop,” she said. It was pointed out that there are some 18 lakes within an hour of Beaverdell town that could be promoted.

Unsightly premises that pose a fire hazard was raised as another concern by Beaverdell residents.

They were also concerned about the possibility of dams going in on local creeks to hold the water back. “We need the freshet to clean river and streams in the spring,” said resident Vicky Tomlinson.