A healthy downpour wasn’t enough to deter would-be Enderby voters from attending an all candidate forum Tuesday night.
It was standing room only as about 200 people filled the seniors centre to hear from eight council candidates vying for six seats on Nov. 15. Moderator Anne Pearson posed questions submitted by the public prior to the event, with topics ranging from Enderby’s future and attracting business to social services and water rates.
Touching on the water issue, which has been a contentious subject of late, incumbent Tundra Baird noted the current council gave third reading to a metered water rate bylaw Monday. She feels the bylaw, which sets a flat rate for single-family homes, is a fair compromise.
“On average, as it was, everyone’s paying about $1.10 a day for fresh water,” said Baird, who operates family-run Lorenzo’s Cafe in Ashton Creek. “That’s pretty reasonable, and we still have to treat it as it goes out the other end into the sewer.”
Brad Case, a three-term councillor and financial advisor, is in favour of ongoing upgrades to water, sanitation and street improvements to keep Enderby’s infrastructure up to date. However, he noted that with the water system, the public can delay costly upgrades simply through conservation.
“We need to reduce the amount of water we’re using as a group,” said Case, noting that the system is near capacity during peak summer periods, and that it would cost $7 million to install the next upgrade. “We know what it costs to create potable drinking water to IHA standards. We know what it costs to deliver it and to make our services last into the future.”
Roxanne Davyduke, an account manager with VantageOne, would like to see more social services to support youth in the community.
“I would like to engage our youth and make them aware of a lot of the things that are happening in the community and make them part of what’s going on,” said Davyduke.
She would also like Enderby develop its natural strengths as a tourism draw, including improving and expanding the river walk.
“I really appreciate the variety we have to offer in the community,” she said. “We have a lot to do with the tourism industry.”
Raquel Knust, a health care worker, feels she is better equipped to handle the rigors of politics having a term as councillor under her belt.
“It has been a learning curve with lots of questions asked,” said Knust, who feels it is essential Enderby grows its downtown core.
“We need to have all those businesses full downtown. We need business to come to town and open up shop here.”
With the Enderby integrated community sustainability plan, along with the recently adopted official community plan, Knust said there is a blueprint for the community moving forward.
“The opportunity for growth and prosperity is imminent,” she said.
Having lived in town for 19 years, Jim Macknee joked he is “almost an Enderbite.”
Like his running mates, Macknee, a carpenter, would like to see Enderby promote itself as a destination for both tourism and commerce.
“A lot of people already do come to Enderby,” he said. “They go salmon fishing, they go float down the river in the summertime.Enderby has been know as a gateway, not only to the Okanagan, but the Shuswap. Why can’t we develop that?”
Paul McCaig, who has been in Enderby since 1975, earned the biggest laugh with his opening line: “Imagine my surprise, I thought we were doing flu shots here tonight.”
A former two-term councillor, McCaig is running to ensure Enderby remains fiscally responsible.
“The most important thing to me is to keep Enderby an affordable place to live, for seniors and for the young people,” said McCaig, who founded Kelmac Industries and now works at Central Hardware.
“We have industry showing up now, and hopefully more job creation will come. Our tax base and our tax rate and the charges that we have need to be looked at seriously.”
Brian Schreiner, who lived in Enderby in the mid-70s, and moved back in 2009, says community prosperity goes hand in hand with financial success. However, without a full-time economic development officer, Schreiner said the mayor, council and chamber have to fill the void.
“We have to invite businesses to come here,” he said. “Downtown has to be improved. We also have to shop local. I don’t want to be a bedroom community to Vernon or Salmon Arm.”
Shawn Shishido, a chiropractor, has raised three children in Enderby and would like to see more social programs for seniors and families.
“If we can keep it affordable here, that will encourage people to come, and have those services in place,” he said.
“Once they’re in place, people can stay local, shop local.”
He added that would have a ripple effect on business: “If people on the outside see that they have a community that is willing to support whatever business comes to town, they’re more willing set up here.”
The forum was hosted by the Enderby Chamber of Commerce.