McBride by-election: the Goat’s Q&A with the candidates

Why are you running for council?

Joseph Rich: I’m running for council because I care about McBride and I care about the Robson Valley and its wellbeing. I feel that I can make a difference. I took a look at the existing council as it may be and I didn’t notice a lot of camaraderie or kinship between the people who are in council right now—no fault of any of theirs. They’re new to the council, they’re new to each other so they’re having to feel out a lot of things. It just so happens that I’ve actually got relationships, some of them long term, with the people who are currently on council. So I feel I can bring a bit of a jelling effect to the current council as it be if I were to be voted in.

Rick Thompson: I was on council for 12 years previous to the last election. And I have been actively involved in politics ever since because I’ve attended almost every council meeting to see how things are going. And I enjoy being part of the leadership of McBride and helping our community move forward. And I want to regain a seat on that council and help council move forward in a positive direction doing the right thing and doing things right. I think I’m well qualified for the job. I have a proven record of my contributions to the community. And I look forward to working for the many individuals that have encouraged me to run again.

Lisa Bugaychuk: It’s kind of good to have a new generation in and try to make a difference.

What are issues on which you strongly agree with the new council?

Rich: I strongly agreed with the way they handled the loss of staff in the office. They brought in interim employees which gave them time to bring in some resumes and choose wisely. They’re handling the community forest—even though i don’t have a lot of information as to exactly what they’re doing—I feel that they’re sitting back and collecting all of the details before they make any rash decisions. They’re handling everything pretty well.

Thompson: They ran on a slate of change. And change is good, but not change just for the sake of change. I agree that they should be open and transparent. I agree that they should be fiscally responsible. I agree, for example, the underpass is an issue. It needs to be resolved. It hasn’t been resolved yet. I agree with them on areas of economic development as an important issue—at least it is to me. We need to have jobs for people to create a living here and stay here.

Bugaychuk: They just started so there’s only so much you can expect from someone who’s just started. What are issues on which you strongly disagree with the new council?

What are issues on which you strongly disagree with the new council?

Rich: I don’t know of any serious moves that they’ve made that I would highly disagree with.

Thompson: I have concerns with the processes that they have gone through, for example, the dismissal of the public works supervisor. I don’t know all the details behind that, but I know that if you choose to part ways with an employee there is a proper way to do it. I have recent concerns with the dismissal of the community forest manager and the manner in which that was done. And I think it’s related to a council that wants to make change but is having a challenge doing it right. They’re new. And one of the things I disagree with—council did not want any connection with the past council or any advice from the past council. Well, that was their choice. But what I’m hearing from the electorate, in asking me to run again, is that’s not their choice. I think there is a large contingent of residents in McBride who honestly expected that there would be a mixture of council members and there would be continuity from the past. And I think the lack of continuity from what was done in the past—particularly with the change of staff—has created a vacuum that has caused things to fall through the cracks. I want to give council the opportunity to link with what was done in the past, because what was done in the past was not all wrong. And council meetings. There’s no discussion. There’s no debate. I want to bring debate and discussion back to the council tables where it belongs.

Bugaychuk: I think my previous answer would answer the other question that you have. They haven’t been there long enough.

What is the most urgent issue the council needs to take up?

Rich: I feel very strongly that our community forest is a very urgent issue, that it has the potential to have a large impact on our community financially and otherwise. There’s infrastructure out there that’s hurting, as far as back country roads, trails, and access points that could be bringing in tourists to our valley. And, unfortunately, they’re being cut off at this point and we’re losing those routes. And the community forest should be having some input of some nature on that.

Thompson: If you want to have economic development you have to have a community that’s prepared to move forward in a united fashion. There has been no effort made by this council, from my perspective, to try to unify what appears to be a very divided community. And I think that trying to resolve that division within our community is paramount to this community moving forward, and becoming a thriving, happy community.

Bugaychuk: Before making any decision what I would be doing is I’d be doing my homework. I’d gather all the information and I’d also want to hear what the community has to say. And what the community wants, that’s what I’d be doing. The reason why I’m running is because I want the younger generation to be more involved in our community and I think that I could potentially try to do that.

Anything you’d like to add?

Rich: I’d like the voters to know that I’ve lived here my whole life and I intend to live here for the rest of it. And if I’m voted in I would like to make everyone comfortable, that I would have the community’s best interest in mind. And part of that being a good family life in the community. I think that’s something that’s important to most people around here. And jobs and infrastructure.

Thompson: I’ve been on council for 12 years. It’s unfortunate that we’re having a by-election because Bob Callaghan was elected by the people and it’s unfortunate that he chose to step aside. I want to come in and work with the council members for the people of McBride to move us forward over the next three years. I have the experience. There are no training sessions for new candidates. And I think what we need on this council is some additional experience which I can bring to the table.

Bugaychuk: My vision for this community is to keep the younger generation. Because if the younger generation is gone, what are we here? The town can’t prosper. Other things that I’d be supporting is infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, road, sewer, and water. I’d also try to go for some tasteful landscaping, possible [sic] in the form of trees, park improvements, possible [sic] better lighting in the community to discharge criminal activity. And one thing that I’m looking forward to is the property on the west and east side of Highway 16 and possibly the north. That could be subdivided off and sold giving sufficient funding for other capital projects.

Diane Smith, the fourth candidate, declined to participate in this Q&A.

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