Village council contenders share their Donalda vision

Lower taxes, a clear vision for Donalda, more residents and businesses were top issues suggested during an all-candidates forum

  • Oct. 16, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Lower taxes, a clear vision for Donalda, more residents and businesses were top issues suggested during an all-candidates forum last Thursday.

Although there are no municipal races in Bashaw, residents of Donalda are gearing up for election day next Monday.

“We’ve been trying to keep tax increases low, but operating budgets are tight and we have to prioritize projects,” said Bruce Gartside, the Donalda mayor for the past three years in his first term on council.

On the economic front, he said it’s a challenge to draw businesses to rural areas such as Donalda, which had a population of 259 in the 2011 census.

“It’s difficult to draw business to communities with small populations,” Gartside said. “Most businesses want larger populations.”

Incumbent councillor and local business owner Dan Knudtson expressed his view on that same issue.

“The best that council can do is to create an environment that business wants to come here,” said Knudtson, who has served on council since a byelection last April.

“Council has to widen its vision and we have to get proactive. Let’s create opportunity, not force business.”

Knudston, a longtime resident, suggested the village create a market niche with the strength of the community’s history and heritage.

“We want to market our town and we need to work together,” Knudtson said.

Paul McKay, who also has deep roots in the area, agreed that the village needs more businesses.

While a convenience store and gas station have been suggested, efforts to attract such a business have had negative support from fuel dealers, he said.

“But we could work on other businesses.”

McKay suggested downtown focus on a theme and preserve historic buildings.

Shane Fox, a resident of Donalda for six years, shared his passion to help enhance life in the community.

“I believe in open and honest communication and equality, fiscal responsibility, safety in the community and street repairs,” Fox said.

“I want to help make the community thrive, with more for children to do, and to bring in more families.”