After serving the past seven years as a councillor for the District of Barriere, Virginia Smith says she has put her name forward as a challenger for the mayor’s seat because she believes she now has the experience required to take that position.
Smith says, “I want to move up. I want to have the opportunity to build a strong council team to ensure consensus. I feel very strongly about this community, and I feel I have a lot invested in the community and would like to see it prosper and grow.”
Smith’s husband Ron passed in January of 2014, of which she commented, “When Ron died I wanted to run away while grieving, but now that I am more settled I realize that Barriere is where I want to be. Sometimes when you are in the grieving process you don’t realize how deep your roots are. Ron and I have a lot of deep roots in this community. I still want to sell my home so I can downsize to another home which will also be right here in Barriere.”
Asked what she personally sees as positive milestones reached during the years she has served on council Smith answered, “I’m very proud of Fadear Park. When I think what was there, and what I see there now it is a real sense of pride. The bandshell, the field house, getting rid of the outdoor toilets at the ball park and now having actual washrooms, with thanks to my husband, if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have had both buildings.”
Smith says other milestones are the creation of Bradford Park and Oriole Park, the installation of the blue bay recycling curb side pickup, and the wastewater treatment plant “which is going to be green and innovative”.
“I’m also proud of some of the policies and bylaws we have put in place; such as the new zoning bylaw – that’s a huge thing for our community. We still have lots of work to do in those areas, bylaws to revise, create, etcetera – but this is all a part of growing.
“Four Blooms and two trophies in three years for Barriere from Communities in Bloom is pretty amazing as well. When I drive down Barriere Town Road and see the park and all that has been done it makes the community welcoming to visitors and newcomers. I think that sometimes what people forget is if you are an investor coming into a community for the first time and you find things looking untidy and unkept you may not come back. But if the community appears neat, clean and welcoming, it presents us as a vibrant community with people who care and are proud of where they live, a place where you can do business.”
Asked what her platform was for the upcoming election, Smith said, “I want to see fiscal restraint. It is really important that we do our level best to hold the line on the budget. I want to ensure that the wastewater septage project is completed within budget. I want council to ensure we continue grant applications, particularly for the improvement of our water system. I especially want to see an open and transparent council. And when I am elected mayor the mayor’s office will be open every Tuesday morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for people to drop in and share their concerns. This is because I feel it is vitally important for the general public to remember that they do have a voice, and that I welcome their input.
“I believe in building a strong council team that will utilize our in-house resources, and we must continue to pursue economic development, which is ongoing and a work in progress as we grow the community.”
What is Smith’s vision for Barriere’s future?
“I would like to see Barriere promoted as a gateway to recreation,” said Smith, “At this time Barriere is not a destination, we are an event destination for things like the Fall Fair and other happenings at the fairgrounds, but we are not a destination to access recreational opportunities such as the many lakes, etcetera in the area.’
Smith says she would also like to see “…a really strong community spirit where everyone feels a part of the community, something that I feel has slipped over the past few years”.
“I would like to see the downtown core revitalized, and we need to promote the lifestyle that is available within Barriere and the surrounding area. I want us to be a green healthy and vibrant community, and I would love to see training available for our youth that could be turned into a job within the community. To see more young families attracted to the community and for them to have employment here.
“I also want to hold at least two council meetings a year at the high school to give our youth a chance to see and understand how their local government works, especially the process of creating the annual budget for the municipality. I think engaging our youth in this manner will help them to understand at an early age that they too have a voice and that they will be heard.”
Smith wrapped up her interview with the Star/Journal by saying, “Please, please get out and vote. It is the only way that you can make a change…and your vote does make a difference.”
Mayoral candidate Virginia Smith can be contacted at: 250-672-0149, cell 778-220-0370, or email: email@example.com