Seven new candidates vying for spot on MD council

·16 min read

Big changes are in the works for Pincher Creek MD council.

Of the five current council members, only Rick Lemire, representing District 2, is running in the upcoming election.

Seven new candidates are in the race, bringing attention to issues like forest fire and emergency service management, coal mining and renewable energy, and small business.

Andrea Hlady, who previously announced candidacy for Division 3, has dropped out of the race due to time constraints and a busy schedule.

Candidates responded to questions from Shootin’ the Breeze about their experiences with leadership, financial literacy and community involvement.

Division 1

ANTONY BRUDER (elected by acclamation)

For Tony Bruder, running in the municipal district election is simply a way of continuing his family legacy. The Bruders have lived in the region for over a century and his parents spent many years on different boards and volunteer committees.

“This rubbed off on me. I feel that it is my obligation to give back to my community, and I feel that I have valuable skills to provide,” he says.

“I have spent my whole life here,” he adds. “And I want my kids and their families to be able to somewhat experience the life I was fortunate enough to have lived.”

He has been chairman of the Drywood Yarrow Conservation Partnership for 11 years, is involved with the Waterton Biosphere Reserve and is a board member of the Twin Butte Community Hall.

He spent many years on the Agriculture Service Board for the MD of Pincher Creek, the Pincher Creek and District Agricultural Society and was leader of the Foothills 4-H Beef Club. He is a longtime coach of junior and senior volleyball at both Pincher Creek high schools.

Bruder has learned to work with diverse groups of people through both rough and prosperous times.

“I am not afraid to stick my neck out and make the tough decisions when needed,” he says, “but I also appreciate those times when it's best to just sit back and listen.”

Bruder advocates for more collaboration between local councils and industries. He feels a need to bring people of the MD and town back together and to work together to achieve a vibrant community as a whole, and believes this can be done.

He says heightened collaboration between the MD, Town of Pincher Creek and other smaller urban areas could increase efficiency.

He views the tourism industry as an economic driver for the MD while acknowledging that it needs to work with the established agriculture and energy sectors, and that young people are needed to keep things going.

“We need to figure out a way to bring this all together. It should not be one against the other. These sectors have to and should be able to work together,” he says.

“There are some capital projects that have been completed or are ongoing within the municipalities in spite of one another, rather than to the benefit of all,” he explains.

“I think this needs to change going into the future. It should not be an us-versus-them scenario within our own community.”

He is interested in developing recreation facilities and activities to keep younger families in the area, which he says would help the local energy and agriculture sectors.

He is against the creation of multiple subdivisions with the MD and thinks council could use better financial management.

Financial management is also a priority for Bruder.

“I feel that there is a need of running a tighter budget within the MD and am willing to work on this issue. If I ran my ranch like most government bodies do, I would have been broke many times over,” he says.

He is confident the energy sector, including mining, has changed for the better and believes environmental concerns are being taken seriously now.

“I fully understand the importance of good clean water, but, on the other hand, I understand the economic benefits to not only the immediate community, but to the province and country,” he says. “I feel that this can be done in an environmentally sound way.”

“I admit that I have a strong personality, but I also feel that I have an open mind,” he says. “I can listen to other people's views and form opinions based on all facts presented. To me, the bottom line is what is the best for our community, not just now, but into the future.”

Division 2

RICK LEMIRE (incumbent, elected by acclamation)

What Rick Lemire has learned from his role as councillor is that leadership comes with great responsibility.

“I've seen good discussion lead to a compromise on an issue so it becomes a win-win rather than winners and losers,” he says. “Albeit there are times when a hard decision is the only way to an outcome and one must not dwell on the decision but move on.”

Lemire was elected in 2017 and says he’s learned a lot from his constituents.

”There is still lots of work to do,” he says. “My job is not done yet.”

Prior to serving on council, Lemire was a trustee for the St. Michael’s School Division, which went on to become the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division. He has coached schools sports and minor hockey, and been a 4-H leader.

He will continue to support council transparency and prioritizing of asset management, a revised strategic plan, economic growth and improvement of the road network.

Lemire thinks the MD should take a close look at the airport as an economic booster.

“I believe there are some possible developments which could be studied to attract tourism, industry, flight school and hospitality to the greater MD community,” he explains.

“The best advice,” he says, “is to have financial goals set to include short, long and reactionary plans. These are achieved through teamwork providing input and knowledge for the good of the MD.”

He looks positively on coal mine development, but says projects must be thoroughly researched before any development takes place.

“These choices also impact our environment, water and viewscape and must be well researched to provide the facts before any development should be done,” says Lemire.

“We are strategically located at the headwaters of the eastern slopes so we have the most to be concerned about with reference to development in the area.”

Lemire has an open-door policy and says constituents from any division are welcome to connect with him.

“I'm a councillor for the whole MD, not just Division 2,” he says.

“I would like to thank the four councillors who will not be sitting at the table after Oct. 18,” he concludes. “You have left me with the following traits: leadership, wisdom, compassion and patience. It has been a privilege to serve next to you. I wish you a restful and healthy departure. Happy trails.”

Division 3

DAVID COX

David Cox describes himself as an honest, hard-working and objective person with good listening skills. He has the time available and wants to bring a new perspective to the MD council table.

“I've spent the bigger part of my working life in public service and continue to want to help people in need,” he says.

Formerly chief of Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission, he supplied the community with ambulance, fire and rescue response teams from three different stations.

Cox is a director and secretary-treasurer for Region 7 of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association and has served on a variety of committees dealing with public land use. He is also a member of the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Brigade fundraising group.

He believes his background with PCESC provided experiences in leadership, structure and accountability that will make him an effective councillor. Managing the budget and financial planning for PCESC and for Cowley Forest Products has prepared him to do similar work for the MD.

If elected, Cox would work on supporting and recruiting businesses.

“I am open to proposals recognizing that limits due to location or negative potential impacts will determine viability,” he says.

Council transparency, efficient use of funds and maintaining revenue streams would also be top priorities.

“My vision of our community is a strong agriculture sector and successful diversity in other businesses. We need to have opportunities for the young to stay in this community,” he says.

Cox has yet to research the benefits and impacts of mining development and does not yet have an opinion on the issue.

GARRY MARCHUK

Marchuk says the community will need strong leadership going forward to keep up with a busy and ever-changing world, and he’s willing to take on the challenge.

He spent five years as a councillor for the MD of Pincher Creek and believes his past experience lends well to the job, including financial decision-making.

“There are programs that I would like to see move forward to create employment and help grow our economy. There are some things that the MD can do better and all ratepayers deserve the best that we can provide,” he says.

Marchuk describes himself as committed, inclusive, fair-minded, approachable and tenacious.

“It is important to seek out, hear, respect and consider all points of view. I invite everyone to share with me your questions, concerns, opinions and in-turn I will give you a fair and clear response or find the answer,” he says.

He is in favour of job creation, but not willing to put water at risk through coal mining in the eastern slopes.

He is interested in growing the economy and creating jobs through renewables.

“I would like to see wind power, solar power, the Town of Pincher Creek, the MD of Pincher Creek and the local ranching community form a co-operative to build some off-the-grid greenhouses for the production of fresh healthy vegetables for local consumption,” he explains.

If elected, he would advocate for fiscal responsibility, emergency services, fire protection and fire breaks, and term maximums.

Marchuk is a former president of Beaver Mines Community Association and of Joe’s Weight Training Centre. He has also been a volunteer firefighter.

Currently, he is a board director for Community Futures Alberta Southwest.

“As a municipal councillor, once I committed to a position I followed through and gave it my best effort. No one person is more important than the other but rather it is the engagement of many that gets the task done,” he says.

Division 4

HAROLD HOLLINGSHEAD

Harold Hollingshead is running in response to dysfunction in local emergency services or, more specifically, “the response to fires in our area and residents’ readiness to fight these fires.”

If elected, Hollingshead would work toward improving emergency services, resolving Beaver Mines water and sewer issues, and addressing frustrations surrounding road and bridge infrastructure.

Hollingshead has run a farm for three decades and owned a business for 14 years before that. He currently sits on the board of directors for the Pincher Creek Co-op.

He is not in favour of mining the eastern slopes and instead advocates for agriculture as the primary economic driver in the community.

“Our water is one of, if not the most important part of our ecosystem. My neighbours that irrigate out of the Oldman had their water shut off in August from low flow in the Oldman River. If there are any new industrial users upriver they may not have any water, or at least reduced availability,” he says.

“Agriculture is the most important economic driver in our MD and the council should endeavour to support all aspects of agriculture.”

JIM WELSCH

Jim Welsch wants to provide a strong voice for agriculture in the MD.

“I am passionate about seeing the ag industry succeed,” he says.

As a rancher with extensive community involvement in the agriculture sector, he has first-hand experience with the industry.

He is chairman of the MD’s municipal planning committee and vice-chairman of the Chief Mountain Gas Co-op board of directors, and a past board member of Community Auction Sales Association Ltd. and past chairman of the Pincher Creek and District 4-H Beef Committee.

“I have valuable experience from the past and current positions I have held,” he says. “I’ve had to demonstrate leadership, co-operation, communication and respect.”

Dealing with significant financial decisions is a regular part of Welsch’s agricultural operation. Working regularly with current MD council members for 2½ years on the MPC inspired him to seek election.

He says his top priorities include investigating firefighting policy, agriculture, emergency services and tax base for revenue.

Division 5

CHUCK LEE

Chuck Lee describes himself as a man with a head for business and a heart for the environment, and his ideal council would consider both equally.

Growing up, Lee assisted with his father’s commercial cow-calf operation. His industry connection extends to his platform and he intends to advocate for the continuation of agricultural land protection policies, steer development into the area, and promote rural business.

“It is small incremental growth that is sustainable and will be more resilient and less susceptible to outside influences that will be our pathway forward to success,” he says.

Lee pursued a bachelor degree in science, which he says gave him “a great understanding of the natural world and of the forces and challenges involved in land-use management.”

He has been heavily involved in environmental initiatives in the past, exploring financial modelling for the independently owned wind industry, leading the reconstruction of Boulder Run on the Oldman River and the Kananaskis Whitewater Centre after the 2013 flood, and advising on reparation to Harvie Passage in Calgary.

He is passionate about increasing public access to provincial lands.

“Retaining the quality of life, environmental protections and land-use character that we now enjoy in the MD of Pincher Creek are just as important, if not more important, than economic development,” Lee says.

“Unrestrained economic development would threaten the very values that people are looking for now and the values that will be even more important in the future.”

He is concerned by the environmental impacts of mining, stressing that proposals for coal projects have serious issues that have not been adequately addressed.

“The Crowsnest, Oldman and Livingstone rivers do not have the volume of water to sustain mining operations,” he says. “The selenium leaching from the overburden waste would threaten our fisheries on the eastern slopes.

“There is also the problem with airborne particulates and coal dust that would be drifting eastward down the valley to the MD. Until all of the issues can be guaranteed as resolved, I remain sceptical on the proposals that have been submitted to date.”

Lee is an outdoorsman at heart with a passion for watersports. He was executive director of the Alberta Whitewater Association and education and leadership director for Canoe Kayak Canada. He created the Alberta Schools in Pools — Paddling for Life program and built the National Coaching Certification Program for whitewater kayaking in Canada.

Locally, he served as chief organizer and instructor for the Pinch-o-Crow Creekers kayak club and led the Pincher Creek fundraising committee for the multipurpose facility.

Attaining an MBA taught him about finance, organizational management, marketing, administrative processes, computer system and human resource management.

“This gave me a great background for dealing with government, businesses and not-for-profit groups,” he says.

He worked with the Southwest Alberta Business Development Centre to build its loan portfolio and do microlending in the region. He raised $1 million dollars to rebuild the Kananaskis Whitewater Centre and fundraised $3 million dollars to open the Pincher Creek multipurpose facility.

The main challenge going forward, he says, is that Pincher Creek’s tax base is not sufficient to sustain the level of services it is offering.

“The town needs to grow and the MD needs to support that population and business growth plan,” he adds. “The MD needs to support small business growth in its hamlets but also in the rural homes, acreages and ranches.”

“With high-speed internet and good communications it is possible to attract good investments to our region because of what we have to offer people that want to relocate from other places.”

He is also passionate about improving quality of life through health, education and recreation. He says he would focus on retaining quality health care and schools, improving transportation infrastructure and making municipal government more efficient by reducing regulations.

JOHN MACGARVA

After a career that has included both government and private industry, wildfire contract work and running his own business, John MacGarva feels it’s his turn to commit his time and experience to the MD council process.

“I bring practical experience of varied sources to the table,” he says.

Since the early 1980s, MacGarva has been involved with numerous land-use initiatives. He is a member of the local recreation advisory group and, in the past, worked on the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. He has also contributed to the early integrated resource plan, forest conservation and special places.

“My career as woodlands manager had me responsible for a large annual budget in a very low-margin industry. Running my own small company was a great experience. All the budgets I was involved with had to be balanced budgets,” he says.

This work also included liaison with government departments and stakeholder groups.

He would like to start his term in council by introducing himself to Division 5 ratepayers to hear their concerns and thoughts, answer their questions and commit to finding answers.

MaGarva describes himself as a fiscally responsible man with a hard-working and honest attitude. He plans to advocate for fiscally responsible operations, maintaining fair and affordable taxation and planning for a strong, sustainable future.

He feels the MD already has strong agricultural, small business and wind energy pursuits and would like to boost local industry through coal mining.

“Responsible coal development in Crowsnest will result in strong economic spinoffs for the Pincher area,” he says. “Tourism will coexist well with industry.”

“There are valuable deposits of the world's best-quality metallurgical coal to the west of the MD. Much of it on old disturbed mining sites,” he adds.

“We have the best provincial environmental standards and enforcement in the world. As a country we need to develop and control our own resources in a responsible manner.”

MacGarva is president of the Crowsnest Forest Stewardship Society. He coached and managed hockey for 14 years and is former director of Pincher Creek Search and Rescue.

He would like to see more opportunities for youth in the area and more industries with respect for each other and the environment.

Support the democratic process

A virtual MD candidates forum will be held this Wednesday night, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. Preregister online to obtain a meeting link and submit questions in advance at bit.ly/3EZzm2T.

Voting will not take place for divisions 1 and 2, as there is only one candidate for these areas, but voting for the other divisions takes place Monday, Oct. 18, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the following locations:

Division 3: Coalfields School

Division 4: Summerview Hall at Heritage Acres

Division 5: Lundbreck Hall

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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