The Oct. 29, All Candidates Forum for District of Barriere candidates was a great opportunity for area voters to come out and hear what each candidate had to say, what their views were on local issues and to ask questions regarding personal concerns for the future of the community.
The event was hosted and sponsored by the Barriere and District Chamber of Commerce, with assistance in the form of sponsorship provided by the North Thompson Star/Journal and the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association.
With almost 160 people in the audience it was obvious that voters are eager to be informed.
Unfortunately, the two hour time limit on the forum did not provide a lot of time for questions from the audience once the three minute opening statements and three minute closing remarks of the 12 candidates had been heard. However, some time after the meeting was provided for people to mingle and speak with the candidates individually.
Harley Wright moderated the event, efficiently keeping it on time and reading questions that had been put forth.
In opening statements incumbent Mayor Bill Humphreys stated that Barriere council in the past three years had managed to finish the Bandshell, the parks, welcomed business, managed to get the Tolko land, are in the process of design for a well at the Tolko site, and that at this time there are two of the lots on the land that have offers to purchase and a company wants to come and start up in Barriere. “I want to continue on in the next four years to continue as we have to attract business and light industrial,” said Humphreys.
Mayoral candidate Virginia Smith stated, “I have served on council since December 2007, and tonight I am here for a promotion! The community needs a council that is strong, transparent, and has a positive attitude. I do not believe in confrontational management, I prefer the collaborative approach. I want this council to enter into debate to arrive at consensus. There will be times the debate will get heated, but this is healthy as it encourages different ideas To be heard…
“Council needs to budget carefully and look for savings wherever possible. Attracting new business to the community is critical, we need jobs here…”
Councillor candidate Harry Ebert said he was for fiscal responsibility and prudence, the splash park, improving downtown, in favour of the water upgrades, and would strive for respect and harmony in municipal politics. He also pledged to strive to achieve BC Hydro upgrades and natural gas to the area.
Councillor candidate Mike Fennell made the following statements in his address, “I have a proven track record of dynamic leadership as Barriere’s first mayor.. I will stand for fiscal responsibility. I will not follow the lemmings over the cliff for overspending; a two-thirds grant is only a good deal if you can afford your one-third. I will advocate that reserve funds, which are painstakingly saved, are used for the purpose that the council at the time intended.”
He also stated he did not believe in putting taxpayers into debt unless absolutely necessary.
“I will work to regain a positive and respectful atmosphere at the District office..” said Fennell, “And I will work to repair and enhance the District’s relationship with Simpcw First Nation…”
Councillor candidate Al Fortin said he would take Barriere tax taxpayer’s concerns and opinions back to council for discussion. He also stated, “I believe in everybody working together. It takes a good team to get anything done. If there is a lot of infighting and posturing going on you don’t get a lot done.”
Councillor candidate Christine Janis said, “We have the freedom to vote, so we should use it or lose it. It’s all about the Canadian attitude; positive, patience and perserverance. I would like to bring in industry and economic growth, and to bring in more families to keep this town alive.”
Councillor candidate Donna Kibble said, “My experience working with various organizations has helped me understand the value of teamwork and what is required to work together in a positive manner. I have developed strong connections with leaders and stakeholders within the community of Barriere, and I have a good working relationship with our Provincial and Federal politicians.
“I would bring to the council great enthusiasm to help build a stronger community network amongst organizations and societies for a common goal…”
Councillor candiate Shane Quiding said he would like to see the community pull together. “I would also like to see a little less red tape for new business in town, make a safe place for teenagers to go, and it would be nice to have a walkway for scooters. I am very glad for the things the previous council has done and will work hard with the new council.”
Incumbent councillor Pat Paula stated, “I have served on council for seven years and want to continue to be your voice for the next four years. I will continue to work on bylaws, policies and programs for our town…Your tax money weighs heavily on all our minds and budget time is perfect to bring your thoughts forward. We need sound infrastructure. Roads, water, sewer are necessary to attract new residents, businesses and tourists.”
Incumbent councillor Amanda Sabyan stated, “I am invested in the community. I want everyone to feel this is a safe community. I am someone you can approach and I will be honest with you. We need to become proactive about problems in our community. I feel now I have learned enough over the past three years to be of better use to the District.”
Incumbent councillor Ward Stamer said he has now served three terms on council; saying, “Economic development and diversification is at the top of the list. Gilbert Smith will be spending $5 million on their cedar mill this year… It’s necessary to work with all user groups and associations. If we are going to attract new people we must continue to maintain what we have. We have a total town package and pride in our community. That’s what attracts people here.”
Incumbent councillor Glen Stanley says he has been a resident of Barriere for 57 years and has served on council for the past seven. “When elected I will be fiscally responsible and I believe in transparent government,” said Stanley, “My vision is to make Barriere a safe place to live. For a job done right re-elect Glen Stanley.”
Wright then moved the forum along to questions that had been submitted by attendees at the door before the event started.
One question asked; What expertise do you have that would benefit a well-rounded council?
Humphreys answered, “Council is a business. We have to grow the town, I have the skills to do this; it is mandatory to do this.”
Smith noted that she was a cost control accountant in a construction company, has taught business courses, and firmly believes in fiscally responsibility.
Eberts said he has a background in municipal government having served as an alderman, and has worked many years within a school district as a maintenance supervisor.
Fennell said he grew up with Red Cross, 4H, student council, served 27 years as a firefighter, and served four years as the Mayor of Barriere.
Fortin said his trade is “… a brick layer, I’m pretty good at laying a solid foundation.”
Janis stated she has an administrative degree, has been a mom for 30 years and is “A jack of all trades.”
Kibble noted she has spent 90 per cent of her time volunteering and being a parent, as well as a foster parent for 40 years. “I have also been the president of the BC Fairs and Exhibitions Association and I believe in working as a team”.
Quiding stated, “I am a mechanic by trade. I find what’s wrong and I fix it. That’s my trade and I think I could do pretty good for this community”.
Paula said she worked as a coroner for the B.C. Government, is a registered nurse, taught at Cariboo College, and has been in banking, and research.
Sabyan said she has served in restaurants for 14 years and for the past three years has enjoyed working with people as a councillor.
Stamer says he served on council for seven years, before that the Barriere Improvement District and the Barriere Fire Department Committee. “I take responsibility seriously and I am not afraid to ask the tough questions,” said Stamer, “I believe it is very important to have a strong council.”
Stanley stated he spent many years working on the ball parks and with Barriere Minor Ball which had small budgets. “I served seven years on council working with a small budget. I have been married for 40 years, and there again, a very small budget. I am a team player.”
Other questions included what the candidates could do for youth inititatives in the community, what they would consider improvements for the District, their thoughts on tax exemptions for small business, and what their thoughts were on medical marijuana as a business for the community? They were also asked what their feelings were on home based business and what were they prepared to do to support them?
Closing statements were given, and then voters mingled with the candidates and asked questions of the individuals they wished to make contact with.
All candidates stressed the importance of voting in the municipal election on Nov. 15.
Humphreys stated in his closing statement, “Last election we were one of the highest voting percentages in B.C. I’m really proud of that.. I hope we will get a progressive council.. Part of local government is to foster the environment for local businesses to be successful.”
Don’t forget to vote on Nov. 15.
Find more information about the candidates by going to the Star/Journal website at: www.starjournal.net and clicking on ‘Municipal Election’