First term councillors seek re-election
Okotoks: Matt Rockley and Florence Christophers kick off campaign
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 06:00 am
Two first-term Okotoks councillors are looking to hold on to their seats at the council table as they prepare their re-election campaigns.
Councillors Florence Christophers and Matt Rockley announced their intention to seek re-election in October’s municipal election.
Christophers said the next council will have the opportunity to write a new plan to guide Okotoks’ future growth and development much like the Sustainable Okotoks Plan did in 1998.
“It’s going to be the best term to be on council, it’s the term where creative ideas come forward with true collaboration,” she said. “It’s like 1998 all over again. The new legacy plan is going to be bigger and better.”
She said she hopes to be re-elected to council to have a chance to be part of the process.
She wants the Town to pursue smart growth practices developing welcoming, walkable neighbourhoods where people can get all their basic needs within a 20 minute walking distance.
“You can create communities where we go back to the old fashioned European strategy where there’s central plazas, or the garages are in the back and kids have green space to go out and play again,” she said.
She added the Town needs to find a long-term plan for water, but she isn’t ready to back one option over another.
“We don’t have all the numbers in, obviously it will involve a pipeline from the Bow (River),” she said. “I have a preference to own our own licenses. It’s our water, we manage it.”
She said tying into a regional water system centered on Calgary does have its own advantages, like economies of scale and utilizing existing infrastructure.
She said she wants to ensure Okotoks remains an affordable community for families to call home.
“One of my key issues is around affordability, housing, food, taxes,” she said.
She doesn’t want to see any significant new spending on projects, with the exception of economic development, that could result in higher taxes on families.
“What I’m really in favour of is being fiscally prudent and putting energy and efforts into the development of our non-residential tax base,” she said.
In addition, she said there is still a lot more Okotoks can do to improve its environmental record, such as pursuing new green technology in new homes and finding alternatives to using chemicals to deal with weeds in town.
For Coun. Matt Rockley he said is top priority is ensuring Okotoks has a stable water supply to facilitate future growth.
He is bringing the question of supporting a water pipeline from Calgary to town council for a decision on Sept. 23.
If council approves the pipeline, he said there will still be a lot of work to do and if re-elected he will look to lead the process as it’s built.
If the pipeline isn’t approved, he said if re-elected he will continue to advocate for a pipeline from Calgary.
“From all the information that’s been gathered and the discussions that have happened on the past three years, the regional water connection to the Bow River through the City of Calgary really is the best long-term option,” he said.
One of Rockley’s other top priorities is to work to attract more businesses to town.
“Okotoks is at a direction setting stage where we need to actively recruit new businesses that will provide excellent employment opportunities and complement existing businesses,” he said.
He has begun working on developing a strategy in partnership with the provincial and federal governments to attract technology entrepreneurs from all over the world.
Rockley said he has a strong record in his first term on council, successfully leading a number of initiatives and major decisions, including the Foothills-Okotoks Field House, the Okotoks Dawgs’ Tourmaline Field and the decision to scrap the 30,000 population cap.
He also said he has the skills and experience to help lead the Town as it grows.
He used to work as a planner for the Town of Okotoks and he is currently an urban planner for the City of Calgary.
“I think I bring a lot of relevant experience and knowledge to the position of town councillor and I would be honoured to serve another four years for the Town,” he said.