Incumbent councillor Andrew Casson (left) listens as his colleague Todd York makes a point Wednesday during a Township of Spallumcheen all-candidate’s forum at the Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church.

Incumbent councillor Andrew Casson (left) listens as his colleague Todd York makes a point Wednesday during a Township of Spallumcheen all-candidate’s forum at the Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church.

Spall candidates spill water ideas

Ed Hanoski believes a 20-year-old proposal would work well today to preserve water in the North Okanagan.

Ed Hanoski believes a 20-year-old proposal would work well today to preserve water in the North Okanagan.

Hanoski is one of eight candidates seeking a seat on Spallumcheen council who faced 10 questions from the public during a three-hour forum at the Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church Wednesday.

One of the questions posed to the candidates, which also included mayoral candidates Dave Brew and Janice Brown, was about what council would do to preserve and protect township water.

“A gentleman named Mr. Waters proposed 20 years ago to build a canal from Shuswap Lake to Okanagan Lake for water storage. It made sense 20 years ago and it still makes sense today,” said Hanoski. “There would be a tremendous amount of storage in there for farms to draw on, and to be able to do their lands.”

Joe Van Tienhoven said more people have moved into the area over the last 20 years, and it seems water is getting drier and drier.

“Everybody wants a nice yard or a nice lawn but we have to realize we are in a semi-desert area,” said Van Tienhoven. “We do need to cut back in simple ways, maybe with different landscaping. There are a few easy steps we can take ourselves to manage water, or we can wait until it gets to a critical situation and costs a lot of money.”

Being an agricultural community, a question was asked how candidates felt about the use of genetically modified organisms and pesticides on farmland.

Dairy farmer Tom Boeve said that question would require another night to be debated fully.

“There is a strong organic community and food is a huge issue,” said Boeve. “I see a lot of the younger generation with food allergies, look in the grocery store at what’s on the shelves, gluten-free, there are a lot of issues. I think the public in general is being wise on where their food comes from and how it’s produced, and perhaps the days of the mega-farm are numbered.”

Andrew Casson admits it’s a controversial topic.

“For me I don’t support anything that’s completely a monopoly,” said Casson. “Depending on what the people of Spallumcheen would want – I’m not a farmer so I can’t say from any personal experience – regarding how the conditions of the fields and what not are kept would be a larger discussion. I’d like to see that we always have options on what to use on the fields and never have a monopoly of any one producer.”

One person opposed to GMOs made a presentation at Spall council and requested the township become a GMO-free township. Brew and Brown agreed that both sides of the argument need to be heard.

“We need to get a public meeting with everybody involved to hear the pros and cons,” said Brew.

“We directed our staff to look into it and we need to have a public town meeting to find out more about it,” added Brown. “You’re the experts on what you need to run your businesses and farms. We need to know that from the farmers.”

Another agricultural question focused on a bylaw on the Spallumcheen table dropping the parcel size of lots that people can place secondary residences on, and the candidates were asked if they were in favour of the bylaw.

“Yes, I’m in favour,” said Christine Fraser. “It’s just for a family member or farm help. The size reduction has been done for both. The main intent was for family, if kids can’t afford a piece of property nowadays, they have somewhere to go without having to pay $400,000 or $500,000.”

One resident asked about maintaining trails at Rose Swanson Mountain.

“We need to develop partnerships,” said Carolyn Farris. “That’s how they get maintained, by the people who use them and respect them. I have a personal interest in this because it was my dad who decided we should be the ones to take the first toilet up to the top. Haven’t been up recently to know if it’s still there.”

“I go up there frequently and really enjoy it,” said Rachael Ganson. “I think the trail is something we need to market better just so that other people are aware we have such great trails such as Rose Swanson that can be a famous little hike. I would take into consideration the suggestion to hire a summer student, big-time, to make sure it’s cleaned up better and marketed a little better.”

Along the lines of marketing, Todd York feels the township should look at unique resources to help keep and attract families in the area.

“Agri-tourism is something we really have not tapped into,” said York. “We might not get a big hotel but we need an RV park terribly, farm tours, ranch tours, the farming experience, we take it for granted, we see it everyday. People from the city have this need to see where what they eat comes from, we have nowhere to put them. Let’s support B and Bs (bed and breakfasts) and a lot of fresh ideas that come from the agricultural community.”

York, Fraser and Casson are incumbents seeking to retain their seats in the Nov. 19 election.

Brew and Brown gave up their seats to run for mayor.