Two candidates from the community of Barriere have let their names be put forward to stand as candidates in the Byelection for Thompson Nicola Regional District Director of Area ‘O’. The position became vacant at the passing of Area ‘O’ Director Bonnie CruzelleMyram, and there are two years left to serve of the three year term position. TNRD Byelection voting day will be Nov. 17.
On Tuesday this reporter had an opportunity to interview both of the candidates, who are no strangers to the voters within the area.
Here is what they had to say to Star/Journal editor Jill Hayward:
Mike Fennell is currently the TNRD Alternate Area ‘O’ Director, saying he took up the position at the request of previous director, Bonnie CruzelleMyram.
“Bonnie asked me to serve as her Alternate, which I agreed to,” said Fennell, I really enjoyed working with her and the many communities and people that are in Area ‘O’. Since Bonnie has passed I have been trying to carry on her good work in the region and support those communities.”
Asked if he had plans to run again in two years to be mayor of Barriere, Fennell said, “Yes, people expect me to, and I have already said I will run again for mayor. The term of Area ‘O’ Director, and District of Barriere Mayor will both expire at the same time,”
Fennell said he has found that being an area TNRD director, rather than a municipal TNRD director (which he did, while serving four years in the capacity of Mayor for the District of Barriere), is quite different. “Having worked with Bonnie as her alternate I feel comfortable in this position as I am already familiar with the workings of the TNRD,” said Fennell, “It is most important to me to see that over the next two years the Area ‘O’ Director supports and carries on all of the good works that Bonnie has done. After all, I came from a small community myself, Chu Chua, so I can easily relate to the problems and challenges that people face in the outlying rural areas.”
Asked what he saw as projects and major challenges facing Area ‘O’ in the future Fennell said, “I have had a couple of meetings with Barb Denton in Little Fort. She does a great job managing the community hall, and is now working on trying to get road access to the Little Fort Cemetery. I am working with the community on that; but it involves getting MOT, Kinder Morgan and Telus all together as a group to solve the problems related to the access so that they all have a say. It is a complicated problem, and the answer will not happen anytime soon, but I am making plans to meet with all of the stakeholders on Little Fort’s behalf.”
Fennell also noted that the Brennan Creek School has now been closed by School District 73. As this leaves the school property, which is approximately six acres on Adams Lake, as well as the schoolhouse empty there is now discussion on what to do with the land.
“I will be going up to Brennan Creek in a few days to discuss some of the options,” said Fennell, “The School District will also be holding a forum on Nov. 6, 6 p.m., for public input about what people want to do with the property at Brennan Creek.”
Fennell says due to the lake access that the property provides, it would be a timely opportunity for the TNRD to possibly lease the land as a Regional Park and community centre for Brennan Creek. “This is all in the discussion stages,” said Fennell, “But we need to make sure that Brennan Creek residents have a say about what happens in their community.”
Fennell also says the new Eco Depot at Louis Creek has some very interesting possibilities for Area ‘O’. “The Eco Depot will only be using a very small portion of the 603 acres that it sits on,” noted Fennell, “This gives Area ‘O’ a place for industry and development in the future.”
He says the Eco Depot is “Coming along well, and to the best of my knowledge the Barriere Landfill closure date is Nov. 1. At that time if the Eco Depot is not ready, everything will go into bins at the Barriere Landfill and be trucked out as the final closure is started.”
Fennell says although there was originally a lot of concern about what the Eco Depot would look like, he is very happy to see that it is very well placed, and for himself, hardly notices it when coming down the Agate Bay Road hill to Louis Creek.
Fennell says the other project he is working towards is to get alternate road access through Harper Creek to Yellowhead Mines. “This will allow workers in the area to take advantage of this employment opportunity,” said Fennell, “An access road will turn an hour and forty minute commute one way into less than one hour. Surely if all of the stakeholders work together we can build an access road that will benefit everyone.”
Lastly Fennell says he spends a lot of time concentrating on bringing jobs to the area, and that tourism is a large part of the pot in Area ‘O’.
Fennell says he feels himself to be “very lucky”. “I’m 63 years old and retired on a firefighter’s pension. I can be a full time volunteer in the communities that are close to my heart. I have the time to get out and meet people, go to meetings, volunteer for projects, and I love doing it all.”