Montrose candidates for the municipal election fielded questions during a forum Tuesday night. Sheri Regnier photo

Montrose pre-election forum draws full house

Advance polls will run Oct. 10 and Oct. 17, with general voting day on Saturday, Oct. 20

Another full house showed up for the region’s second forum that went Tuesday night in the Montrose Community Hall.

Vying for the head seat are current Mayor Joe Danchuk and sitting Coun. Mike Walsh, himself a former village mayor. Five candidates, including incumbents Cindy Cook and Rory Steep, are seeking one of four seats in the Oct. 20 municipal election.

Candidates seeking re-election reaffirmed their commitment to the path set out over the past four years – with shovel-ready projects like 9th Ave. revitalization and pushes for seniors housing and broadband.

“I honestly was not thinking of running again,” Coun. Cook began. (candidates sat in alphabetical order). “The Thursday before papers were due, I got a memo at work about housing, and that they’ve changed some of the funding, so I am running because of seniors housing. We are so ready for it … we have a piece of property that is zoned properly … we just need to have some partners to make seniors housing a reality here, my mom would have loved that.”

Mayor Danchuk spoke of successful collaboration with Beaver Valley partners that brought a new skate park and five-year recreation deal with Trail, moving forward with Age Friendly planning, and lobbying the province for lighting improvements on the highway corridor, which came at no cost to the village.

“For the past four years we’ve been working hard to ensure the village remains vibrant and a most desired community for families to live in,” he said. “I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.”

Coun. Rory Steep is seeking re-election after serving one term.

“In our time here we’ve done quite a few things,” he said, mentioning the community garden, and significant water and sewer repairs. “Going forward there are a few challenges that we are fighting for and will continue to fight for. That is, we need broadband in Montrose. We’ll go through every avenue we can, we will get it eventually, and we’ll just keep fighting until it happens.”

Newcomers Lynda Bouthillier and Paul Caron focused on topics such as supporting young families and keeping the community safe for children.

“I had gotten myself involved with the seniors and luncheons a few years back,” said Bouthillier. “I am running because I feel we need to be watching out for our seniors and young children, and in the last few years, we’ve gotten more young families moving to Montrose.”

Caron said he was ready to “listen and learn.”

“I’ve done a lot of volunteering with Special Olympics, coaching hockey, and the Métis association,” he said. “But this is all new for me, so I am looking forward to it.”

Past councillors Don Berriault and Royce Schmidt were eager to bring their experience back to the table and dig into a variety of ongoing projects such as infrastructure upgrades.

“I understand that seniors housing has become critical,” said Berriault. “I think that would be a good challenge to get all the jurisdictions working together and get something done.”

Schmidt said Montrose is a wonderful community and his forever home.

“I would once again like to re-join council so I can be of service to the community,” he added. “I’ll work hard as part of the team if elected, and also be mindful that we need to work cooperatively with our neighbours.”

Mayoral candidate Mike Walsh’s talking points included bringing back a 10-year paving program, scrapping the delegation form for council meetings and updating the Official Community Plan (OCP).

“Since 2006, I don’t know what happened to it, I guess there were other issues,” he said, referring to the paving. “But I see our roadways need to be done … and our infrastructure is aging. I would also like to have council be more involved in the community and the old pool site to be developed into something with this age-friendly program, that would be a perfect site.”

Questions from the floor opened with council’s plan around pot sales and distribution, village infrastructure priorities, and the proposed location for senior housing.

Mayor Danchuk closed with a rundown of of actions underway which includes grant submissions for a $2.9 million sewer plant upgrade and $2.2 million to re-pave 9th Ave., lobbying the province for broadband, and participation with BC Housing as well as regional partners for a senior housing complex.

“My commitment is to the residents of the Village of Montrose … four years ago I was honoured to serve as your mayor and I want to move forward with the village for the next four years.”

In closing, Mike Walsh hit on the need to keep up grant applications as a way to mitigate impacts on property taxes.

“Because as a small community, sometimes it’s tough to do major jobs without raising taxes,” he said, reiterating his plan to update the OCP, re-visit existing bylaws and policies and work on fire protection.

“So on October 20, I’d like to see our residents vote in a new council.”

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