A short but sweet forum gave 50-plus Warfield residents good insight into four very fitting candidates running for a seat on village council.
Doug Jones moderated the half hour event, which was hosted by the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce last week, in advance of the first byelection voting opportunity slated for tomorrow (Wednesday) 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the municipal office.
Nicole Caputo, John Crozier, Brad Jansen and Arlene Parkinson tackled questions that primarily focused on the village’s aging infrastructure and related costs to bring the services up to snuff.
Up first, however, was a written question about melding into a council that is already two years into its term.
“Entering into a council that has been working together for the past year, what will you do to work together with current council to make a seamless transition?” Doug Jones asked on behalf of the resident.
All four agreed being a team player was key and cited backgrounds serving on previous council (Crozier and Parkinson) , skills sets from the work place and long histories of volunteering, as assets to the job.
Next, was a resident’s observation about the village’s state of repair and how each could champion future improvements.
“Since living here the last five years, I’ve noticed the condition of the village has deteriorated,” began the resident. “Not just the amount of gravel on the streets, but the condition of sidewalks, parks, and Lauriente Way - every bit you see as you walk though seems to be getting worse. There are dead trees, garbage and streets that aren’t clean, so what are you going to do to clean it up?”
John Crozier replied the best way to have voices heard is to write down the concerns, and submit them to the municipality for council to address.
“A lot of times council doesn’t know what is really going on unless people complain,” he said. “I can’t make a decision here by myself, council is a team effort and always will be, but the best thing to do is write it down and forward it to the village.”
Bring forth concerns, so council can review and prioritize, Caputo responded.
“I too have noticed in the four and a half years I’ve been here that there are things starting to slide,” she said, mentioning besides prettying things up, reaching out to certain homeowners may be called for. “There may be some residents who need some assistance with their homes. But bring this forth to council, I can’t fix it myself, but as a group, I believe we can.”
Parkinson agreed with the resident, saying she laces up her pink sneakers and walks in the village daily.
“I do see community pride isn’t what it used to be,” she explained. “I’ve been thinking maybe we have some people in the village who want to strike a committee and try to tackle something like this, because it’s not an easy thing. Council should take a look at the complaints, prioritize needs, and take a look at the costs - because everything takes money.”
Money is tough to come by, but at the end of the day, it starts with community pride, reiterated Jansen.
“Four councillors and a mayor aren’t going to be able to solve an issue like this without us volunteering to get out and give it our all,” he said. “I think that’s one of the most important things…I would try to get more young getting people out volunteering, because to make something like that happen, everybody has to be on board.”
The topic then turned to the village’s limited tax base and two major capital projects Warfield has on the books.
“One is Phase 2 of water improvement, the other is the second phase of the sewage treatment plan,” said the resident. “I would like to hear a response from each of you about how you intend to tackle the financial end of this.”
The panel agreed that short of higher taxes and pursuing all grant avenues, the solution is presently uncertain.
The last query centred around derelict properties.
“Curious where and how you would implement our Unsightly Premise Bylaw?” asked the man. “We do have a few shanties in our neighbourhood that are degrading our properties, so where do you stand on that?”
Caputo was up first, and acknowledged a bylaw review is required.
“I have reviewed it and it does seem to be needing an update that council can work toward,” she replied. “But also, work with those residents to find out if there are issues, some people may have disabilities, and not be able to look after their property. That could be a viable reason, but a bylaw review we could put some teeth into, might also help with clean up.”
Many of the Warfield bylaws, including unsightly premises, are in need of a review, added Crozier.
“That’s a good question and needs to be brought up for council to take a really close look at it.”
Jansen said he’s had some personal experience with the matter, and recognized the current bylaw is not easily enforced.
“We have to review the bylaw to see if there is a way to make it more strict, for lack of a better term, so it hits home - but, again, it gets back to community pride.”
Parkinson concluded by agreeing with her three peers, but acknowledged the village’s limitations.
“People need to know we are a small community with a small tax base and we just don’t have the money for a lot of things.”
Warfield voters who remain undecided have another week to choose their candidate before the second advance polling opportunity opens April 6, and General Voting Day, April 9 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.