Local mayoral races seemed to turn the tide and reel in a high voter turnout in 2014, compared to previous civic elections.
Now, many eyes will be watching if campaign promises like restoring regional recreation, engaging the public, or becoming a better neighbour, will sink or swim this year.
Keeping with his platform of growth, vitality and pride, one of Trail Mayor Mike Martin’s first orders of business was to create new portfolios for major projects in the coming year – including council appointments to the Riverfront Centre and pipe/pedestrian bridge committees as well as the Trail Regional Airport’s new terminal proposal.
“At this time, moving to complete major issues coming forward from the previous administration will be the number one priority,” said Martin.
“In this regard, I have modified the city’s committee’s structure to address these matters…where individual members of council will be appointed to focus on some of the more major issues.”
Another priority over the next few months for new council members, Carol Dobie, Lisa Pasin and Sandy Santori and incumbents Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson, Robert Cacchioni and Kevin Jolly is to develop new strategies for the city in a formal planning session scheduled for March.
“With a new council we need to get to know each other and be comfortable working together,” Martin explained.
“As the new mayor, I need to ensure that everyone is comfortable and that we get together as a team given the many matters that need to be dealt with.”
While none of the outstanding issues, such as Trail’s proposed boundary expansion, will be settled in January, reviewing and approving the city’s 2015 budgets are a critical starting point, noted Martin.
“Council is hoping to see major development advance in the city in early 2015,” he said.
“We also need to ensure strategies are in place to continue to advance Trail as a good place to invest.”
With so many newly-elected politicians on city and village councils, there’s a need to bring everyone up to speed on the ins and outs of local government, says Rossland’s new Mayor Kathy Moore.
“There is a steep learning curve and copious amounts of reading and assimilation info and issues,” she explained.
As a first-time mayor, there is a lot to learn in the role, Moore continued, adding that the new council will deal with issues presented by staff as well as starting to carve out their own priorities.
“Our staff action lists is a hodge-podge of projects that the last council had directed staff to tackle,” Moore said. “One of our first priorities will be to spend some time with that list, understanding what the projects are, deciding which are important to use, determining what the needs are and how to best prioritize them.”
Rossland’s new council is interested in resolving the long standing regional recreation issue, she noted, adding that she is confident that an agreement equitable for all parties can be reached.
A promise Warfield Mayor Ted Pahl made to his constituents was to revamp the village’s communication strategy, which includes a website refresh, a social media platform, frequent newsletters and more face-to-face meetings.
“We are in the process of developing our criteria of functionality and content for what these will look like,” Pahl told the Trail Times. “Including sourcing out secure self-service options for taxes and pool pass payments for people who prefer online options.”
In the Beaver Valley, re-elected Montrose Mayor Joe Danchuk, maintains that recreation is at the forefront as he remains committed to resolving a new agreement with the City of Trail.
“Ninety per cent of my time is going to be spent on recreation,” Danchuk confirmed during the Dec. 15 council meeting. “And council is feeling the same thing,” he added. “We are moving ahead with getting what our costs were this year and are hopefully going to meet sometime in January. I am positive and agreement can be worked out that will be very beneficial to everybody.”
Although there wasn’t a mayoral race in Fruitvale, Mayor Patricia Cecchini retained the position for a second term by acclamation, the lack of a recreation agreement was the first topic geared toward the panel of councillor candidates during the village’s forum.
Cecchini remains on the Beaver Valley Recreation Commission and will serve as Fruitvale’s regional director in the upcoming year.
Further east in Salmo, that municipality saw the biggest turnover in local government after Mayor Stephen White was voted in alongside four new council members.
The priorities beginning in January include holding council meetings in a new venue where the public is fully welcome, and able to sit to see and hear the meeting, said White.
Additionally, he’s committed to overseeing the village’s 2013 financial audit with a top priority of sharing the results of the financial statements with the public.
“The new council is committed to opening up the political process,” White said. “We have a lot of work to accomplish if we want to regain public confidence and trust. Opening the political process, welcoming the public to meetings, allowing for questions from the public has started that work and it will continue through 2015.”