Economic development is a top priority for Hope’s council candidates.
The 13 contenders vying for six seats on Nov. 15 shared their vision for growing the community Monday night during an all-candidates meeting at Hope recreation centre. Dusty Smith, Matt Steberl and Kellen Zerr are young candidates who hope to bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to the council table.
“I represent a generation that does not live in this town anymore and that’s sad,” said 25-year-old Smith. “We need to come together as council and do as much as we possibly can as a team and represent you as taxpayers in the best possible ways that we can. We have to be willing to grow. Without jobs over the years, we’ve lost many young families to other communities like Rosedale, Chilliwack, and Agassiz. Those people should be living in our community.”
In addition to capitalizing on tourism opportunities, the council candidates believe Hope needs to attract industry in order to provide sustainable jobs. Ryan Mohle sees obtaining resort municipality status as the first step in achieving this.
Donna Burns and Hondo Stroyan also believe the proposed all-season resort in Dogwood Valley and the district’s revitalization tax exemption program will help encourage economic growth in the area.
“I believe in working together as a community. Self-sufficient industries, using opportunities we have to capitalize on what we need will produce more jobs and force the expansion of our borders,” said Zerr, who also supports more electronic highway signage to promote Hope. “We can make use of tourism but at the same time expand the borders.”
Stuart Hartmann feels Hope needs to move forward in a way that invites new opportunity but also protects quality of life, ensuring the community is socially, economically, and environmentally healthy. He also supports downtown revitalization and further development of parks and trails. Stroyan, Mohle and Bob Erickson support the construction of a boat launch in Hope to attract anglers. Mohle also suggested constructing a parking lot to get fishermen off the roads, while Erickson said a parking lot and washroom facility is specifically needed on Landstrom Road.
Steberl said council should use social media and TV to promote the community, while incumbent Scott Medlock suggested the district work with real estate agents and marketing agencies to promote Hope’s location to Vancouver and the Okanagan, emphasizing the town’s reduced housing costs, quality of life, and new community brand.
Robert Haley suggested he would hold monthly public town hall meetings to solicit input from residents to help determine the community’s direction. He also believes people should be growing their own food in greenhouses to cut down on trucking pollution as well as making their own clothes.
When questioned about the need for transit, Haley said there should be a bus from Silver Creek to downtown Hope, as well as to Chilliwack. Smith, Medlock and Heather Stewin also feel a transit route is needed. Steberl suggested council pursue a green alternative instead such as light rail.
If re-elected, Donna Kropp would “move Hope forward working with a council that listens to the stakeholders in the community, make Hope town hall a preferred place to do business, continue to be fair and be a voice for the people of Hope, and make changes when needed for the benefit of the people who live and work here.” She also supports the current vision of AdvantageHOPE and a quarterly review process.
“I like transparency and I like participation,” she added. “I’ve never been in favour of having in-camera meetings.”
The three incumbents hope to build on the work of council over the last few years. Gerry Dyble pointed out that change takes time and council did the best they could with the information given to them by staff. Some accomplishments the incumbents noted were the Sucker’s Creek Bridge replacement, new community recreation park, new four-way stop on Kawkawa Lake Road, landfill closure and completion of the transfer station.
“We’ve made difficult decisions that were not popular, but they will save the residents of Hope millions of dollars over the next couple decades,” said Medlock. “I agree that the process taken was not always transparent and I was not always on side with the method but I guarantee that every time there was a discussion in-camera or in open meetings, I spoke and voted with the representation of the entire community weighing heavy on my heart and mind.”
Dyble will continue to push for a rural physicians committee and new public safety building in Hope, an initiative also supported by Kropp.