MD OF BIGHORN – Ward 1 residents of the MD of Bighorn have elected Steve Fitzmorris to council.
Fitzmorris, a resident of Exshaw of 18 years, secured the vacant councillor seat in the ward byelection Tuesday (Sept. 19) with 99 votes, a lead of 44 votes over Robin Bushulak, who had 55 votes.
“I’m really glad to see the total number of voters that turned out, that really shows that our community does care,” said Fitzmorris.
“I’m looking forward to joining the council team and working with them on the strategic plan already in place.”
During his byelection campaign, the newly elected councillor did not run on a specific platform but heard from residents on all matters of community development. One topic he said came up consistently was public transit, with the MD planning to explore transit options via a joint transit feasibility study with Kananaskis Improvement District.
Fitzmorris said there was a fairly even split of those for transit and those with concerns about the cost to ratepayers.
“I do look forward to working on these processes that are in place already and I look forward to coming up with solutions that work for the community as a whole,” he said.
Fitzmorris, who grew up in Ontario and moved to the Bow Valley in 1997, started volunteering with the Exshaw Community Association in 2018 and later became president of the association.
In 2020, he was appointed by council to the Bighorn Corridor Environment Committee as a public member, and in 2022, he was appointed to the Emergency Services Committee.
The time spent actively working with the community and within the MD will lend itself well to his new role on council, he said.
Community-driven, Fitzmorris and his wife, Dale Craig, own and operate the Heart Mountain Store in Exshaw, where they've raised their children.
Running against Fitzmorris in the byelection was Bushulak, who was born and raised in the Bow Valley and also served as volunteer, vice-president and president of the Exshaw Community Association as a resident of the hamlet since 1998.
MD of Bighorn Reeve Lisa Rosvold said Ward 1, which includes Exshaw, Kananaskis and Seebe settlements and lands in townships 25 and 26 to the north of Exshaw, was fortunate to have a selection of two “very community focused” candidates in the byelection.
“I want to congratulate Steve on his successful outcome and I look forward to working with him and getting him up to speed,” she said. “Thank you also to Robin for putting his name forward. As soon as you commit your name to that ballot, you are pledging a commitment to the community and I am grateful for that.
“Democracy is alive and well in Ward 1, thank-you to all who came out to vote.”
According to the 2021 Statistics Canada census, there were about 280 eligible voters in the ward this byelection. Of those, about 55 per cent voted.
The byelection was called after former Ward 1 councillor Joss Elford resigned for personal reasons in June. His resignation was the second this term after long-time Ward 3 councillor Paul Clark retired in May 2022, after which Alice James was acclaimed and sworn in for the position.
The MD of Bighorn is comprised of four wards, with Ward 1 having representatives in Jen Smith and Fitzmorris, Ward 2 being represented by Rosvold and having Harvie Heights, Dead Man’s Flats and Lac Des Arcs and Ward 3 to the north, south and east of the Îyârhe Nakoda First Nation with West Jumpingpound region. Ward 4, represented by Rick Tuza, is the largest geographical area and includes the hamlet of Benchlands.
The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.