By: Korie Marshall

Many of the 18 candidates for School Trustee this election weren’t able to make it to the All Candidates Forum in Valemount on such short notice. Even so, seven candidates made it to the event, hosted by the Valemount and Area Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 30th, though some were delayed en route from Prince George by an oversize vehicle that got stuck on construction at the West Twin Bridge.

The Trustee and Regional District candidates had the floor for the first hour of the forum, moderated by Toastmasters and Marion Farquharson. Trustee candidates Dori Alder, Tim Bennett, Eric Depenau, Sheldon Harris, Brenda Hooker, Denise MacDonald and Sharel Warrington shared the stage with Regional District candidates for Area H, Dannielle Alan and Ken Starchuck. Bryan Monroe, candidate for Regional District Area H, was not able to make the forum due to health issues. Farquharson also read an introduction from Trustee candidate Tony Cable, who was not able to make the forum.

The time limit on the forum only left a few minutes for questions. Two were posed to Area H candidates, both around the role the Regional District plays in decisions around the backcountry, such as land use decisions and physical access to the backcountry. Two other questions were posed to the Trustee candidates. The first was whether candidates are in favour of a Robson Valley-specific representative on the board, an issue which has been raised by Valemount Council, and is done in other school boards. The candidates present were generally in favour, though one said she would prefer to see a rural advisory committee, as splitting the board could make it ineffective. The second was about more access to use the school facilities outside of school hours. The candidates generally agreed that our school building is an important part of our community, and that more conversations need to happen.

The second hour of the forum was for Valemount Mayor and Councillor candidates. All the candidates were present, Andru McCracken and Jeannette Townsend for Mayor, and Hollie Blanchette, Peter Fox, Sandy Salt, Owen Torgerson and Peter Reimer for Councillor. Three questions from the public were around candidates’ vision for the community, and how to fill the schools, and support businesses, with one specific question for the Mayor candidates about whether they support an addition to the library in its present location.

The Valemount forum was taped by VCTV, and has been uploaded to YouTube.