The Rocky Mountain Outlook congratulates re-elected and newly elected municipal politicians in our Bow Valley.
The fact the majority of incumbents were returned by voters, we feel, speaks to the level of confidence residents have in their councils, and the work they’ve been doing.
In Banff and Canmore, new faces like Peter Poole, Jeff Hilstad and Karen Marra, respectively, were elected to fill spots vacated by councillors moving on or, in former Councillor Ed Russell’s case, due to an unsuccessful attempt at the mayor’s chair. In the MD of Bighorn, Lisa Rosvold had a successful campaign and Paul Clark returned in his ward.
For re-elected municipal leaders, particularly in Banff and Canmore, it must be satisfying to realize that despite the angst and anger that has so often accompanied their decisions over the past four years, they have been returned to their seats.
The re-elected, along with those new to municipal politics, can now carry on the work of weighing and making decisions affecting their communities.
In Banff, at least for now, pay parking is out of the picture thanks to a narrow plebiscite defeat on election night, which will allow that council to focus on other important strategic goals such as balancing tourism and business needs with those of the citizenry and continued creation of affordable housing alternatives.
In Canmore, like Banff, the issue of affordable housing, and making our towns accessible to many, regardless of income, will remain important – and never ending. In both towns, housing, and affordability in general, will remain the greatest challenge to those who wish to call the Bow Valley home – for the short term, the long term, or for good.
With budget processes in the near future, we would remind our councils of that critical affordability issue and how it touches on all aspects of life here. We encourage our municipal governments to keep a sharp eye on the balance of wants and needs, nice to haves and must haves.
Municipal taxes, along with mortgages, rent, food and services, affect everyone, in all strata of income, and what’s affordable for some is not for others. For many, the idea of a living wage is no issue whatever in their life (page 26), but there are many, many people in our communities – young and old, newcomers and longtimers, professionals and tradespeople, single and married, seasonal workers, those with families, those without, employees and employers – for whom a living wage is not just some concept or ideal, nor an issue to be studied, it’s the reality of day to day life.
Thus, we request our municipal politicians bear this in mind when contemplating tax increases. A careful fiscal balancing act will be required as our councils move through the budge process.
At the Outlook, we’re growing weary of all the reports of just how expensive it is to live here as opposed to almost anywhere else in the country. For many, constant reminders of the sky high cost of living here simply don’t compute when balanced against the reality of food bank use, thrift stores helping out where they can with back to school backpack/supplies program and winter wear programs, children’s school food programs, upcoming Christmas charity programs …
Our communities must be affordable for everyone, not just those with the deepest of pockets.