County of Stettler candidates have offered suggestions to co-operate with Town of Stettler on funding recreation.
At a candidates’ forum Thursday night, candidates also proposed ideas for low taxes and attracting business and people to the rural region.
All candidates supported a suggestion from a citizen to form a joint committee with the town with non-elected officials to discuss ways for the county to provide more funding for recreation, because facilities such as Stettler Recreation Centre have more users from the county than the town.
“Members-at-large is always good and will get solved and quick,” said former reeve Vic Carey, who is challenging Greggory Jackson in Botha-Gadsby. (Jackson was the lone candidate not in attendance at the forum. He was in Hong Kong, visiting family).
“Any time we can open lines of communication with residents, it’s the best,” said Guy Neitz, challenging incumbent Joe Gendre in Erskine-Buffalo Lake.
Stettler ward incumbent Blake Chapman said that even though there has been discord, talks with the town are progressing and he’s optimistic about a resolution.
Such a co-operative concept was endorsed by other contenders, including:
— Byemoor-Endiang incumbent Lawrence Wilkie, former councillor Les Stulberg and John Schofer, who is also seeking to gain a Clearview School Division trustee seat.
— Big Valley incumbent Terry Schiffner and challenger Dave Grover.
— Stettler challenger Ernie Gendre.
Neitz recommended that that the county have an open house to engage citizens on local issues.
On the question of amalgamating with the town, Joe Gendre was the only one who supported the concept, or at least studying the idea.
“I believe those talks need to happen,” Gendre said.
“We should entertain those thoughts or we are closed-minded.”
Much like their town counterparts the previous night, other county candidates said the town and county have distinctive priorities and issues that should keep the municipalities as separate entities.
When questioned about the increasing number of employees and administration at the county office, challengers were concerned about the rising costs. The incumbents, however, defended the increases to provide services that residents demand.
“Everybody has a job and it’s just the cost of doing business,” Schiffner said.
When quizzed what candidates would ask provincial government for more funding, roads was a common response. Neitz and Joe Gendre requested that Highway 835 be widened to Buffalo Lake. Ernie Gendre urged improvements to Highway 12 west of town. Wilkie and Schofer prioritized secondary roads.
“Down the road, it’s going to be a lot worse,” Schofer said.
Stulberg also noted that after railways were removed, a vow by the provincial government to shift funding to roads got off to a good start, but has since been derailed.