Cannabis users in Armstrong can go to Vernon to buy their supply when pot is legalized Oct. 17.
That’s the view of Coun. Paul Britton, joined at Centennial Theatre Wednesday by his five other city council incumbents and challenger Jim Wright in an all-candidates forum, hosted by the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce that attracted 30 people.
One of the questions from the floor was on the impending legalization of cannabis and what the city is doing for the new rules.
“We’ve just been waiting to see what direction we can take from the government,” said Britton. “They haven’t passed down what municipalities can and can’t do. One thing that works in our favour is Armstrong is only one square mile. We have a lot of schools so there might not be any places to put a cannabis store within our bylaws. We’re just waiting for some direction on what we can do. Personally, they can go to Vernon and buy their cannabis, but we have to play by the rules.”
A number of the candidates said flood mitigation is one of, if not, the most important issues facing the community when asked the question by moderator Sean Newton.
“The impact flooding has had on our residents has been devastating,” said Steven Drapala. “The immediate need is to address the issues, but we just can’t think dredging the creek (Meighan) and letting the water run through town will solve the problem. It has to be paired with a plan that goes bigger than that.
“We have floodplain mapping that’s going on…Meighan Creek, the channel has changed from its original features which cause problems with sedimentation, so we have to look at a bigger plan that addresses that so we’re not continually spending thousands of dollars. Once the creek is dredged, the water has to go somewhere. We don’t want to move the problem somewhere else.”
Armstrong zone school district trustee candidate Tennile Lachmuth asked the candidates for their views on amalgamation with the Township of Spallumcheen (the seven-person council and two-person mayoral debate for the township went Thursday at Centennial Hall).
“I’ve always considered this to be one community even though we are governed by two local governments,” said Gary Froats. “We have different priorities here in Armstrong. I am concerned that each of us relies on infrastructure grants to the tune of about $750,000 per year, which represents about 15 per cent of our budget. If we amalgamate, grants could be reduced substantially because I don’t believe they give double grants to one community.”
Wright, a former two-year councillor in Summerland in the late 1970s, said amalgamation, historically, doesn’t work well cost-wise.
“Economically, I would not be in favour at this point,” said Wright. “It’s like a business. The bigger the business you have, the more expenses you have. We’re working together well now with parks and recreation, fire protection and the cemetery. Why would you want to fix that? If you want to expand, it’s going to cost more in the long run.”
Linda Fisher said the A-word has come up several times in her life while living in Armstrong.
“Am I in favour of amalgamation? Well, in a lot of ways, yes,” she said. “One government instead of two. However, the rural [part] of the community is different than the heart of the community. It’s up to the citizens. If it comes up again, maybe there’s room for a referendum.”
Armstrong Spallumcheen Trails Society member Peter Rotzetter asked candidates if they support the CP Rail Corridor from Sicamous to Armstrong.
“First thing we need to do is get the rail trail right to town,” said Shirley Fowler. “At that point, and that could be down the line, developing the rail trail is going to be done by fundraising. The properties were bought with tax money but development will be done by fundraising.”
Added Lance McGregor: “It’s going to be a while before it gets to Armstrong. It will stop at Lansdowne (Road in Spallumcheen). Once the plans are in place to get to the city, which will have to expand eventually to get washrooms, parking and such, eventually it will get here. What we as a city are waiting for is what the people really want. You, as a member of the trails society, know what the people want. You bring it to us and we’ll work with you on it.”
Questions from the floor also included trail enhancement, landscape design changes to mitigate flooding issues and supporting signage directing Armstrong businesses to Spallumcheen businesses.
Mayor Chris Pieper, acclaimed a third straight time to serve a fourth consecutive term, was in attendance.