Janice Brown doesn’t want Spallumcheen to get too big.
Because, as the incumbent mayor pointed out during a Spallumcheen all-candidates mayoral and councillors forum Wednesday at Centennial Hall, when asked about her vision for the township, bigger isn’t always better.
“We have great roads, we’re in the process of working on a plan with Armstrong to provide safe drinking water, and we’re talking with Vernon about hooking up to their water for the southeast sector,” said Brown, who is facing a challenge Nov. 15 from former mayor Will Hansma.
“I foresee the southeast sector getting affected, hopefully there will be more commercial businesses at the bottom and, for the long-term, I hope there is more business along the highway where we have infrastructure, where we have water.”
Hansma, a five-term mayor who didn’t run in 2011, loves what Spallumcheen has become and where the township is headed.
“I envision continued support for some development in the southeast sector because it’s important,” said Hansma. “We need to enhance the revenue currently coming into the township, otherwise the impacts on the depleted infrastructure will cost the current residents more money.
“We do have to fix things and there are issues around water systems, but let’s make one thing clear. The water the township administers is not having problems. There are a number of water districts which are a level of government unto themselves which are having problems, and we need to somehow work with those water districts as a local government to enhance the ability to provide healthy water.”
There have been allegations from residents that farming practices have affected water districts. Both candidates were asked how they would look at such practices.
“A lot of that is done at the provincial level,” said Hansma. “We tried a number of years ago to put a zone in place to restrict farming practices to a certain level on an open aquifer, but that was turned down by residents and the province.
“I’m committed to working to come up with solutions that would not threaten our aquifers in the township, and provide good drinking water to the residents.”
Brown said council is considering bylaws to regulate farm practices including how far away they are from aquifers, though such a bylaw would need Victoria’s approval.
“We need to enforce bylaws for new farms coming into our community and protect our water sources,” said Brown. “The water is a lot more important and more people now are aware of the quality of water.
“Farming practices need to change. With climate change and with environmental practices, we need to find a way to get rid of things that are affecting our environment.”
The two mayoral candidates took part in a two-and-a-half hour forum, along with the seven council candidates, in front of 100 people at Armstrong’s Centennial Hall.
Look for coverage of the councillor candidates’ forum in Sunday’s Morning Star.