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EDITORIAL: Quick learning curve for new councils

Residents of the Bow Valley now have a better idea of the municipal political picture for the next four years. Following Monday’s (Oct. 18) municipal election, the council horseshoes of local governments have been established after the ballots were
October 21, 2021
Cartoon by Patrick LaMontagne/www.lamontagneart.com

Residents of the Bow Valley now have a better idea of the municipal political picture for the next four years.

Following Monday’s (Oct. 18) municipal election, the council horseshoes of local governments have been established after the ballots were cast.

But now that the voting is done and the lawn signs have been picked up, the hard work will begin.

Between the towns of Banff and Canmore and the MD of Bighorn, there are nine new councillors out of a total of 19 council positions.

The MD of Bighorn had the biggest upheaval – with 60 per cent of councillors now entering their first term – while Canmore and Banff each had three new members voted onto their respective councils.

Both Banff and Canmore selected new mayors in Corrie DiManno and Sean Krausert, respectively, while a new reeve for the MD of Bighorn will also be chosen in the coming weeks.

The new councillors replace long-time elected officials in John Borrowman and Karen Sorensen, who served three mayoral terms in Canmore and Banff, respectively. MD of Bighorn Reeve Dene Cooper also retired from public service following 16 years as reeve and 18 as an elected official.

The wealth of experience in those positions is replaced with relatively new officials, who are eager to make their mark on their communities.

The newly voted-in representatives will have a learning curve in understanding the process of municipal governments and they are likely to find out quickly who yields the power when it comes to discussions with the province.

Though the councillor role is meant to be a part-time position, it is anything but. From regular council, board, committee and commission meetings, the calendar can fill up quickly and that is before meeting with constituents to hear of concerns and needs in the community.

Each of those meetings can come with hundreds of pages of reading in agenda packages that come with reports, research and analysis, which are invaluable when making decisions that can impact generations in the community.

And, of course, attending events on evenings, nights and weekends is a key part of the role, as it allows them to engage residents in public.

While voted in to represent their communities, there are also joint committees that emphasize the need for Bow Valley councils to work with one another and put aside any differences for the greater regional good.

As Roam Transit has grown, the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission has become a vital public service across the valley.

The Bow Valley Waste Management Commission is also equally imperative in municipalities working with one another for a common goal, so too is Bow Valley Regional Housing in providing housing for seniors and more vulnerable residents.

It will also be a time to start work on what they heard were priorities for residents and better understand the possible methods to attain them.

In Banff and Canmore, it has long been a priority to achieve resort municipality status. Though the last two decades have proved futile in earning the status, it was again heard loud and clear that elected officials and residents have it as a priority. Of course, the final decision will come down to the province.

Other issues such as expanding public transit, working to help wildlife in the region, managing tourism, development projects and easing the impacts of climate change are all important factors in the coming years.

The job is thankless and time consuming and the next four years will undoubtedly have tests, trials and tribulations, but also rewarding moments in having a front row seat in shaping the community.

It is unknown what the next four years will prove for the Bow Valley, but the work is just getting started for the new councils.


Rocky Mountain Outlook

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