DISCUSSING THE ISSUES
What made you decide to run?
I have always loved living here in the Crowsnest Pass. However, in recent years I have found myself becoming more passionate about several of the issues that face the Crowsnest Pass. I have written letters to the editor expressing some of my views on these issues. Numerous people approached me and spoke to me about what I wrote. They encouraged me to run for council. After a lot of thought and careful consideration, I decided that instead of sitting on the sidelines watching it all unfold around me, I should take a stand and run. I believe that the Crowsnest Pass and its people need a new voice on council. They need to know that their ideas, thoughts and votes matter. If elected, I will endeavor to make their votes count.
If you are elected what are some of the things that you will focus on during your term?
The first area that I see that needs fine-tuning is council itself. It's time for accountability. It'swell past time that we had total transparency of what goes on in council chambers during council meetings and behind closed doors! We need less In-Camera Sessions and more public input!! The public needs to know they can trust the leaders of this community. We need to restore the public's faith in council.
That being said, it's time we, as a community, know just where our hard-earned tax dollars are going and where they have gone. It’s time to curb unnecessary spending and instead focus our tax-dollars into needed infrastructure, facilities, and transportation.
Our community needs to focus on the areas in which we can encourage growth and long-term sustainability. We will always be a tourist destination, a place for the weekenders to come and a place in which people move to retire. What we need to focus on is bringing viable businesses and industry into our area.
It is also important to rebuild our volunteer base. The people of the Pass have been taken for granted, dumped upon, ignored and disrespected in a big way!! We need to open wide the doors and try to foster a good relationship with our volunteer's. They need to be shown they are appreciated and respected.
Affordable Housing for Seniors and limited or low-income people.
Affordable housing has become a growing issue. Our community is comprised of many different socioeconomic groups. The Crowsnest Pass has always been as diverse an area as is its people. We are comprised of many different classes of people. We have the lower class (typified by poverty, unemployed, homelessness and more and more often - the elderly), the working class (often called the working poor, they are often the minimally educated. This class also includes the blue collar workers who are usually the skilled workers), and middle class (generally these are white collar workers and the upper middle class, comprised of professional people with higher incomes). We also have our share of the upper class (those who want for nothing and have no pressing economic needs). As might be expected, this class of people exercise a great deal of influence and power politically. They are privy to the first and best of both financial and business opportunities. It is they, through their influence, who often determine how the rest of us are affected. But they really have no idea how the working and lower classes live. We, as a whole, need to be aware of the issues within our community that affect the lower and working classes. Often they are the backbone of our community.
If we want to encourage young families to move here and raise their families, we need to have affordable housing. Without affordable housing, people can not hope to get their heads above water and see a future in this beautiful Crowsnest Pass. Affordable housing is imperative to their continued existence here.
Our seniors are our Heritage. Without them, we have nothing on which to base our past. We need them for our future. They need to be heard. They need to be respected. If they need our help, we should be bending over backwards to help them. They are the people who make up who we are today. Without our past we lose the essence of who we are. What has happened to our rich heritage? Here in the Pass, due to the uniqueness of its location, geography, history and diverse cultural and ethnic heritage, we should be using that to base our growth on, now and in the future. It’s what makes this such an unusual and special place in which to live. Seniors, too, are struggling with day-to-day expenses, higher taxes, utilities, and generally a higher cost of living. They live on fixed incomes. They often can’t even afford to fix their homes, and sometimes can’t even afford to continue living in them. Why? Because it’s getting too expensive to live here. Yet, what are their options? We don’t have enough room in our seniors facilities. Those facilities, as well, are getting too costly to afford. We need affordable housing!
We need positive change. Things around here need to change. We need to encourage growth! We need to encourage our children to stay here or have a reason to come back once they are finished with their post-secondary education. We need them to raise their families here. There has to be a good reason to do so. Without them, we are a dying community.
We need a local public transportation system.
We are a community of about 5800. We live in a very unique place. It is made up of several smaller communities, Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore and Coleman. It encompasses 373 square kilometres. It is a linear community and is spread over 27 kilometres in length, running along Highway 3. This unique development which also makes it harder for its younger and older residents to traverse its entirety. Many people in the Pass have to rely upon others to get them to where they want to go. That isn't always possible.
Even Sparwood, a community of about 3600, has a local public transportation system. They have Sparwood On The Go, their solution to getting around town. And they only have ONE town to get around. We have five.
Such an idea would not be hard to implement. We already have the service in place. One idea: We have the Town Rounder. Currently it only services the elderly, infirm and mentally challenged. Why not provide a pay per use service using this and one other bus. That would be all we need to service the entire pass. One going one direction while the other is going the opposite way and so on and so forth. It would solve so many current transportation problems. We currently have at least three decent sized vehicles that could facilitate this service. Two of them sit most days, empty and unused. One is sitting in the York Creek Lodge parking lot. The other one is in the hospital parking lot.
I, for one, would be willing to pay user fees for such a service. I have heard from many constituents that they, too, would be willing to pay user fees. I would even be willing to buy a monthly bus pass for my daughter, to enable her to get around the Pass. There are times that she can’t always rely on me for a ride. A local bus service would alleviate this issue.
Yes, there are certain logistics involved, but there always are. We just need to, as a community, stand up and voice our need for such a service. Council needs to listen to concerns like these and then move forward to put services like this into place.
This leads me to the current issue of the school busing cut-backs and how we could utilize public transportation to provide a solution to this problem. We live in a community with unique physical characteristics and unusual weather patterns. It is spread over a great distance. Expecting our children to walk to school in below freezing weather, through several foot high snow drifts and crossing a major highway, is totally unreasonable.
Without a public transportation service, these same children can no longer get to places that they used to be able to go, using the school bus service. What if they have an after school job? They can’t get to the next town over, because they are not allowed to use the school bus service for that. What if they need to go to a babysitter’s house or want to go to a friends place? This is no longer possible. What happens when the mercury dips into the minus 20s or 30s? Will they be staying home from school. What about the parents who don't drive? Or the parents that have a job that takes them to work much earlier than their children leave for school? We will have a lot of children staying at home alone, because they can no longer get to school or to a baby-sitter’s house. The Crowsnest Pass needs local public transportation!
The Crowsnest Pass needs a centralized Public Recreation Centre.
Since the last election a group of concerned citizens formed an organization, the Crowsnest Cultural and
Recreation Society, to help organize and bring this dream and very obvious need, to a reality. All good things take time and it will take some time and much hard work, for us, the people of the Crowsnest Pass, to make this goal a reality.
I will continue to be involved in helping this organization to achieve
it's goal of the construction of a centralized Recreation Centre for
the residents of the Crowsnest Pass.
As stated before, most of you know already where I stand on this issue. It was printed in the August 6th, 2010 issue of the Promoter, in a letter to the Editor. It was titled: Our Children Are Our Future - We Should Be Listening To Them.
I will say it again here:
On June 22nd a group of grade 6 students from Isabelle Sellon School addressed council concerning their thoughts and ideas to make the Crowsnest Pass a more child and teen friendly community. One of these ideas was for council to consider a recreation centre. What a novel idea! To actually have a place for our children and the children of our future to hang out and do constructive things. What kind of place would this be? What kind of facilities would it have in it? Well, for starters, an indoor pool. We so desperately need this! This could be used all year round. We could amalgamate all the other interesting sports and recreational activities into this one facility. We could even put some of the adult activities there. It could be a facility with meeting rooms, new clubs to sign up for and participate in, an indoor rock climbing wall, a place for teens and tweens to hang out in a safe supervised environment and many, many other ideas. It could house the headquarters of numerous outdoor activities as well, like Minor Ball, Minor Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Cross-Country Ski Club, maybe a junior quad squad club, Slow Pitch, and the Riding Club.
Did you know that here in the Pass we have many activities but they just are not well known or advertised? We have Tae-Kwon-Do, Yoga, Kick-boxing and Karate, the Piranhas Swim Club, a Community Choir, a weight-lifting club, an amateur radio club, a gymnastics club, the Crowsnest Pass Symphony, and the Taoist Tai Chi Society, just to name a few. Now imagine them all in one facility.
The Crowsnest Pass is promoted to be such a great place to move and live. It brags all these wonderful activities and more. It really does have a lot to offer. But not too many people realize it, as the activities and programs are so scattered. Get them all into one place and more people will be able to benefit from them. More people will realize what we have to offer.
We are a community of about 5800. Many of those are children below the age of 18. And they can’t wait to leave this boring place! Take it from a mother who raised four of her children in this community. My children all had many friends through the years who all said the same thing. They have nothing to do here. It is boring and they can not wait to leave! That is a sad testament to this beautiful place we call home. Some even call it paradise or a little slice of heaven. For who? Not our children who are leaving in droves! My 25 year old daughter left at 17 for the big city. She has no plans to return here to raise a family. Who really wants to come back to a place that offers nothing to our children?
Even Sparwood, a community of 3600 people, has a recreation centre. They boast an indoor pool, Arts Facilities and Programs, Fitness Classes, Preschool and Children’s Program’s, Squash and more. Fernie, with a population of about 4200, has its Leisure Services, which offer an Aquatic Centre, Art’s Station, Curling Club and numerous other recreational activities. And to the east of us, Pincher Creak, population about 3600, provides a wide variety of facilities and programs to enhance active living and the well being of the community. They have the Pincher Creek Multipurpose Facility. This 23 000 square foot multi-use facility offers something for everyone all under one roof, including an Aquatic Centre, Library, Conference and Meeting Rooms, Soccer Field and other outdoor recreational facilities. They also have the Memorial Community Centre Arena. The winter Arena season runs from October 1 to March 31 and offers a wide variety of tournaments, games, drop-in opportunities and special events. Pincher also has its Community Recreation Centre. This complex includes the Golf Clubhouse, Restaurant, Chinook Lanes Bowling, Squash Courts, Volleyball and a Weight Training and Fitness Club, all under one roof.
Do we see a trend developing here? Well, it’s certainly not in the Crowsnest Pass. Our children are screaming for something to do. Do we hear them? Are we going to listen? Is council? Is your child’s happiness not worth the money it would take to build such a facility? Could we use an existing facility and expand it to house all these things?
Instead we have numerous other buildings housing the current activities. The expenses for these facilities are hemorrhaging the money into nowhere useful. We have the useless Crowsnest Centre, a real bone of contention for many living here. We have the half empty MDM, in Bellevue. What happened to our indoor skateboard park and indoor climbing wall? Not enough funds to justify being open? To many things spread over too much distance.
We live in a very unique community. It is made of of several smaller communities, Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore and Coleman. It encompasses 373 square kilometres. It is a linear community and is spread over 27 kilometres in length, running along highway 3. This unique development also makes it harder for it’s younger and older resident’s to traverse its entirety. They have to rely upon others to get them to where they want to go. This brings up another very realistic issue that having a central recreational centre would help. A suggestion? Busing. A bus service for the residents of the Crowsnest Pass. Another novel but very useful idea.
Remember Sparwood, population about 3600. They have Sparwood On The Go, their solution to getting around town. And they only have one town to get around. We have five. It would not be hard to implement. We already have the service in place. We have the Town Rounder. Currently it only services the elderly, infirm and mentally challenged. Why not provide a pay per use service using this and one other bus. That would be all we need to service the entire pass. One going one direction while the other is going the opposite way and so on and so forth. It would solve so many current problems. Now that school busing is an issue for after school and our children can no longer get a ride to a friends place, our kids would have a way to get to and from their friends houses. They could get to Blairmore to watch a movie or go bowling. They could get to this recreation centre, wherever it may end up. The Crowsnest Pass needs a bus service. I could go on about the numerous other reasons why, but that is another letter for another time.
We need a place for our bored and restless children to entertain themselves. We need to know that they are in a safe environment. We need to know where they are and they are not out getting into trouble. Because that is what a lot of them are doing now. Many parents may not want to admit it, but I know where your children are going, when you are not around or you think they are somewhere else. They go to bush parties, they get drunk, do drugs and are sexually active. This is happening at younger and younger ages. It’s a scary reality. Now a recreation centre won’t solve all those issues, but it will provide a place for the average child to hang out. It will provide a place to see their peers and bond on a better level. It will provide a place to do activities that they want to be involved in. Give them a voice! Let it be heard! This is what they want.
The Pass needs a future and our children are it. If we listen to them and provide such a place, then maybe, just maybe they will move back here once they are finished with their secondary education. Maybe they will think it is a fine place to raise a family. Maybe, just maybe they will know that there is a place that their children can go to and feel safe, cared for and respected.
One last thing I want to say about having a recreation centre. Recreation builds strong families and healthy communities. Families that play together, stay together. Recreation provides safe developmental opportunities for children. Recreation, sports, arts and culture produce leaders who serve their communities in many ways. Recreation, sports, arts and culture build social skills and stimulate participation in community life. Recreation is often the catalyst that builds strong, self-sufficient communities (ie: sport groups, arts guilds). Art and culture helps people understand their neighbors, their history and their environment. Recreation and arts/culture build pride in a community. Recreation is a good thing. We should be putting it as a number one priority. Time to listen and look to the future. On June 22nd a group of students approached council with an idea. I hope that we decide to listen to them. This is just my humble opinion.
I think this letter says it all. "
The Crowsnest Pass should have a centralized Public Recreation centre. We really have a need for it.”
Currently this idea is in the Crowsnest Pass Strategic Plan. If elected, I will do what I can to see that ground is broken on this Recreation Centre.
Community Unity - What does this mean?
The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is a specialized municipality. The municipality formed as a result of the amalgamation of five municipalities – the Village of Bellevue, the Town of Blairmore, Town of Coleman, the Village of Frank and Improvement District No. 5 (which includes the Hamlet of Hillcrest) – almost 32 years ago, on January 1, 1979. Crowsnest, Passburg and Sentinel (Sentry) are other former communities within the municipality's boundaries. We have come together as one community, but we are far from having community unity.
Travelling around the Pass recently and talking with people, I have noticed one common denominator. Many people are saying the same thing. Why, when we were supposed to come together and be one community, does it still feel like we are five individual towns? Everybody who lived here then remembers the days when we were five separate places. Many remember when each town felt some amount of antagonism toward the other towns. They stood independent and separate from the rest of the Pass. Each town had its own mayor, movie theatre, grocery store and much, much more. Each town was healthy and thriving. Then someone suggested, for whatever the reasons were back then, that we would be better off as one community governed by one council and one mayor. Well, what has happened? Did we come together for the better? In some ways, yes. In many ways, we are still just as distant and disjointed as we were then. Only now, each town is a small part of a whole, that is extremely dysfunctional.
What do we do together as a community? We still have Bellecrest Days. But many people feel that this is just for the communities of Bellevue and Hillcrest. Coleman has its Canada Day celebrations. Blairmore has Rum Runner Days. It was posed to me, where do we have a celebration where we celebrate being a united community? What happened to the good intentions?
Many continue to ask this question. I am surprised the amount of passion that this issue stirs up. Of course many of those who have spoken about this remember those days clearly. What about those who don't? The younger generations? The people who have moved here from other places? They would have no knowledge of this issue. But you can believe that some of them, too, feel the discontinuity of this community. So what do we do? Let's ask the people! Let's listen to them. What do they want? What do they see as bringing us together in come kind of Community Unity? This is one area that I would like to see us draw on the strengths of each community, within our municipality, and how we can bring it all together for a lasting and profound effect of unity.
What is Sasha's stand on Taxes??
First, let me start by saying that I make no promises when it comes to lowering taxes. If it can't be done, then it can't be done. What I can tell you is that, if elected, I will look into the tax issue, and see if there are any areas that can be improved upon. We may just have to face the fact that our taxes will never go down. They seem to be a fact of life. I can also tell you this, if I am elected, I will endeavor to find ways to keep taxes from going up.
Currently, I do not profess to know a lot about this issue. I am learning quickly though. I don't have all the resources right now, that I would have, if elected onto council. I can only go by what I see, hear and read. What I do hear is that the Crowsnest Pass has a quite a few issues that seem to be very important to many people.
Many of the Pass people want a Recreation Centre and Public Transportation. Now let's be realistic. Those things cost money. We can only get so much from provincial and federal funding. There may be other programs out there that can help with the costs of these things, but we still may find that a small tax increase may be necessary.
If enough of the people want an indoor pool or Recreation Centre, then we will have to face some amount of give on taxpayers behalf, to achieve this goal. I know I would be willing to pay a little more taxes to have a centralized Recreation Centre here in the Pass. And I live on a fixed disability income. I believe that most other people would support a small increase on their taxes, if they knew that council was working on the most viable ways to fund the rest. Notice I did not say a large increase.
Would I support a small tax increase to fund a local transportation system? Again, yes. That and provincial, federal and any other funding we can find. As I stated above, it has to be viable. Rome wasn't build in a day, nor will be a Recreation Centre. It will take time to implement these ideas. That is the job of council. I think that a public plebiscite should be held to see the viability of these ideas. This is now, anything that was decided in the past, is long over with. We are facing these issues now, in 2010 and need them to be addressed.
Where do I stand on the Tax issue?? Truthfully, taxes, if necessary might need to be increased. This is not what most people want to hear. This sad truth may not make me popular with some people. Just know, I don't like the idea of tax increases either. However, if we are getting something to show for it (ie: Recreation Centre, Public Transit), that will help this community with long-term sustainability, then I just may be for it. If spending can be curbed and different spending areas around the municipality can be cut back, then we may be able to leave taxes the way they are. Realistically though, don't expect them to go down.
That being said, I believe that we should find ways to support the people who have a hard time with the present tax issue. Maybe seniors need to be subsidized. Maybe we need more people helping their neighbors like days gone by. If more people got out in this community and volunteered to help those in need, then maybe we wouldn't need some of the programs that are costing the taxpayers money.
If elected, I will research ways to curb spending, assist seniors and lower income people, and try to find programs that are subsidized by provincial or federal money, instead of our local tax base. I will do my best to find ways to stop unnecessary wasting of our tax dollars. I can make no promises to keep taxes from increasing. Nobody realistically can. Just know this, I will do my best to keep taxes in check, and help those with real issues concerning them.
These are some of the main issues that I hope to see some positive action happen on, within the upcoming years. I am open to the public's ideas and suggestions to facilitate the change that the Crowsnest Pass needs, in order to grow and flourish, as a united community. I want to hear from you!
The Crowsnest people need to know that their vote and voice counts! I will be that voice, I will be that vote!!
I am running in the upcoming 2013 Municipal Election. I need your vote! A vote for me is a vote for you!