The official documents had not all been filed as of press deadline as to who will run in the November 15 municipal and school district elections.
This installment initiates the Castlegar City Council side of the story. Look for information on newcomers to the race, and school district hopefuls as well in coming editions.
Five of the six members of the current council will run, Gord Turner being the exception. The story of his decision appears elsewhere in this issue.
In alphabetical order, here are the councillors with comments as solicited on September 29.
Each was asked to describe their high and low points from the concluding term, and what was the inspiration for running for the next term.
Kevin Chernoff, member of council since 2005.
“The high point would be the splash park (Millennium Ponds at Millennium Park), it’s one of the biggest as far as what the community sees,” said Chernoff.
“Another high point, not as much seen or praised, would be our five-year things like our asphalt plan, roads (resurfacing) scheduled every year so we don’t have to decide on a whim that this is a road that needs to be done.
We’ve been trying to keep it as a five year plan we revisit every year. It’s actually made it pretty easy for the public works guys to plan for.”
On the negative side, Councillor Chernoff mentioned another civic project.
“The only thing I can see is the lights on the bridge (Kinnaird overpass. As a council member, for the money (about $45,000) we spent, I kind of expected more. That’s the only one that kind of nags at me.”
Chernoff said the decision to go for re-election was not easy.
“It’s not just me, it affects my wife and kids,” he said before stating, “I like the way Castlegar has grown. I’ve had some people suggest that the City should look after nothing but roads and sewers. There’s much more to a community than that, because if people don’t want to live here you don’t need roads and sewers.”
Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, member of council since 2011.
“There have been many high points… Millennium Park, Communities in Bloom is a high point, Sculpturewalk, keeping our taxation the lowest in the area. We’re trying to diversify our economy, and a high point was selling the land (over by the airport) to FortisBC. We’re trying to develop something that’s vibrant and sustainable.”
On the less pleasing end, Heaton-Sherstobitoff mentioned the recycling issue involving Multi-Materials BC.
“It’s been a sticking point with us,” she said. “We were so progressive and now we’re kind of going backwards.”
The decision to seek re-election?
“For me it wasn’t a tough decision because I’m just new,” said Heaton-Sherstobitoff, “just three years, and it seemed like it took me a year to get up to speed. There are so many things that we as a council want to do, that we’re just in the midst of getting things done, or started. You want to kind of follow that through, see things come to fruition.”
Deb McIntosh, member of council since 2002
“The high point has been the Millennium Ponds, for sure,” said McIntosh. That is just about family, is about bringing people to Castlegar. It’s absolutely as ‘mom’ and ‘apple pie’ as it can get. It’s just a beautiful thing. I think it’s really put us on the map, and we’ve now found our niche.”
Any sore spots noticed in looking back on the past three years?
“I think, for me, it was the process of not being able to get us on a better non-pesticide use regime. I would like to see us work harder on that… come to a good balance with the families and sports people that use the parks.”
Why run again?
“I like what we’re doing,” she concluded. “I like the movement the City’s making. I like the way the community is starting to engage more, and wants to be in on everything. And I like the fact that more people are holding their elected officials more accountable.”
Dan Rye, member of council since 2011
“The high point is the Millennium Ponds project, seeing that thing come to fruition. That’s something that’ll leave a legacy in this community for years to come. It’s hard to top, I’ve been down there a couple of times and have seen, like, businesses from Nelson things like that. I’m thinking to myself, ‘We’re already bringing people here and it’s barely just opened.’”
A low point in Rye’s opinion is the pace at which airport upgrades are taking place.
“The wheels move very slowly with the Federal government, Transport Canada and Nav Canada, and I’d like to see something happen faster.”
Rye was talking about an updated, specialized mapping of the area and suitably equipping the airport as well as the aircraft that touch down and take off here.
“Right now the Jazz planes that fly in here don’t have it, but some of the new (Bombardier) Q400s that (Air Canada) Jazz is flying do have it.”
There is a continuing stigma borne by our community, as pertains to air travel, that probably continues to irritate many people. Councillor Rye is among those.
“It doesn’t matter where you are,” he said, “I was registering for a meeting at Whistler last week, they asked where I was from, I said, ‘Castlegar.’ They said, ‘Oh yeah, Cancelgar!’ It just irks you!”
Rye said it was an easy choice to stand for re-election.
“I went in there for three years, you learn a lot in the first three, you find out what’s going on. I wasn’t put off by the four year term, although I’m sure it’s got some people thinking. But I had always envisioned that I would be there for more than one term.”
Florio Vassilikakis, member of council since 2013
“The high points are the infrastructure improvements we’ve done with the Millennium Ponds project and the announcement of the Connors Road bike path grant that we got. Of course, that the Rotary Club has been successful raising funds to build the public pavilion down near the ponds as well.
Moving right to the reason why he’s going for another term, Vassilikakis first mentioned that with just one year under his belt he’s eager for more.
“For the first three or four months I was just kind of getting the feel for everything,” he explained. “I know that people talk about the steep learning curve, I felt that because I’ve been in business a long time, that I had an ability to quickly understand the issues.”
Vassilikakis said he had been honoured to be appointed to the finance committee, an achievement that boosted his confidence. He was also pleased with what he found out in the chamber, as he described.
“One of my biggest concerns at the get-go wasn’t whether I could commit to the time requirements, but whether I’d be passionate about what I was doing. Nobody actually knows when they get there, ‘are you going to love it?’ I love giving back to the community, but I didn’t know going in if I would find a passion, day in, day out, for the business of the City.
With a year of experience to his credit, and a trip last week to the UBCM convention, Vassilikakis says, “It really kind of lights a fire under you to see what these other communities are doing, and giving you ideas to make a change in your own city. I really like being part of this team.”