Now that changes have been made to the highway that runs right through the middle of town, Enderby residents want to know how the mayoral candidates plan on handling potential increased traffic on the side streets.
Incumbent Mayor Dee Wejr says that’s already been a challenge for council, while her opponent, current Coun. Howie Cyr, said the city needs to be ready to make changes if needed.
The two were speaking to a near-capacity crowd at an all-candidate’s forum, hosted by the Enderby Chamber of Commerce, at the Enderby Seniors Complex Tuesday.
“We have discussed this at council and what impact it’s going to have on our downtown area with the lights changing the way they are,” said Wejr.
“We think, at Belvedere and Mill, there may be a two-way stop instead of a four-way, not sure of that yet. We need to really see what’s happening when traffic starts flowing with the lights working, then make our decisions based on that, along with input from the community. We’re the ones using it, let’s hear ideas on how to make it work.”
Cyr won’t make any predictions, but makes it clear he doesn’t want to see a repeat of last summer when, with a chuckle, he said he didn’t want to see traffic backed all the way out to Rod’s Towing, a kilometre or so north of town.
“We don’t have any real clear way of predicting what the traffic patterns are going to be, and what impact it’s going to be on the side streets in this community,” said Cyr.
“What we really need to do is be prepared to react accordingly, and make appropriate changes, through the comments of the community, we feel is necessary.”
The candidates debated a number of topics during their allotted time at the forum, including what the city has to do to have new business invest in the community.
“We have to work very hard as a council with the chamber to create an environment that encourages potential business to come into this town,” said Cyr.
“Then we have to ensure we create proper incentives to come into town and start up a business. Make it a friendly environment for them when they arrive, and that goes right down to the appearance and morale of this community.”
“Maybe we can do it with tax incentives,” suggested Wejr. “We can’t manufacture land and we can’t convince people that a business is something that would be viable. We can encourage, support and work with the chamber, and that’s something we’re already doing. We need to get people involved, work with the chamber and come up with ideas for the community.”
Also on the agenda at the forum were the two candidates seeking Regional District of North Okanagan Area F’s seat, vacated by the retiring Herman Halvorson.
Jackie Pearase and Herman Gerrits discussed, among questions from the floor, mosquito control, meat regulations and, one of the hot topics locally, the use of motorboats along the Shuswap River.
“It’s an ongoing issue,” said Pearase.
“I personally believe fast boats don’t belong on the river for the fact of erosion, the loss of land, the fish habitat, there’s lots of reasons. There’s a lake on either end that are both great for boating. But it’s not a decision I can make on my own.
“This is a decision that will take a lot of time. If we want boats off the river, it’s going to take a lot of work and take a lot of input from the people who live here.”
Gerrits is among those who live on the river, and has a small boat tied to a dock in the summer.
“My dock has also been destroyed by the personal water craft that go by it,” said Gerrits, who has also had property damage as a result of fast-moving boats.
“There has to be some form of boat control. People just aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing. It’s a tough issue and an ongoing battle.”
Asked about their three-year vision for Enderby and Area F, Pearase said she’d love to see the working relationship between the two areas continue to grow, as well as fostering good relationships with the Splats’in First Nation.
Gerrits said he’s not a fortune teller but admits the region is growing like crazy, and where it’s going to go depends on the will of the people around the area wanting to make change.