Former Town of Canmore Chief Administrative Officer and long-time Springbank resident Don Kochan is adding his name to a growing list of candidates for Rocky View County (RVC) council.
An engineer by training, Kochan said he has lived on the west side of RVC for 24 years. He said his decision to run in this year's election stemmed from concerns he had over the current term's inter-council relationships.
“What I've been seeing with this council, unfortunately, is there's just too much ego amongst the councillors and too much in-fighting that's happening, and not enough down-to-business,” Kochan said of his intention to put his name forward for the Oct. 18 municipal election.
“I think with my leadership experience and skills, I was hoping to bring the team together and focus on the business end instead of the in-fighting that's happening at this point.”
Kochan, who is running against incumbent Kim McKylor for the newly formed Division 2 seat, was the Town of Canmore’s CAO from 2006 to 2011. Prior to resigning from that role, he held various administrative roles for the Town of Canmore for 10 years.
Since departing as Canmore’s CAO, Kochan has run an engineering consulting company, and was involved with a few notable infrastructure projects in both the private and public sectors, including Trans Canada’s Energy East pipeline project, which was cancelled by the federal government in 2017. His consulting firm also assisted upper management for the Bragg Creek flood mitigation project.
According to his press release announcing his candidacy, Kochan also served on RVC's Subdivision and Development Appeal Board for five years and the County's Assessment Review Board for six years.
“I've got a lot of energy and I’m just hoping to make a difference as far as getting RVC back on track, as far as going about doing their business,” he said. “I was hoping to provide some leadership to the rest of the group, so everyone starts pulling together instead of this disjointed type of approach for making decisions.”
If elected on Oct. 18, Kochan said his goal would be to bring more financial accountability to RVC council’s budget-planning process, and that his experience working in municipal government would be an asset.
He also said he would like to see council be more transparent and discuss fewer items in-camera.
“In theory, the only in-camera items that should be allowed are items related to confidential items such as if the County is buying or selling land, personnel items or legal items,” he said.
Also included among Kochan’s platform points are focuses on sustainable development and the County’s service delivery.
“The County is there to provide a service to its residents and it doesn't seem like there's a focus on what that service level is,” he said. “I was hoping to come in, define what that service level is and get everyone on the same page as far as how to consistently apply that service level.”
One of the most cited election issues in RVC this year is the County's relationship with the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) – a regional planning board that includes representation from 10 municipalities in Calgary and area.
Earlier this year, the CMRB approved its regional growth strategy, despite opposition from the board’s three rural members – RVC, Foothills County and Wheatland County.
Kochan said he has paid attention to developments regarding the CMRB, and said it’s a relationship RVC could make work.
“It's just a matter of understanding, as far as what roles both sides should be playing and what ground rules each are going to be accepting,” he said.
“It's just a matter of how these municipalities decide how they are going to work together. I think right now, there's still some trepidation as far as our [willingness] to work together. I think we should be at the point where it's a given we have to work together. It's just a matter of how we go about ensuring everyone is playing by the same rules.”