Water will be key election issue
Okotoks: Two vying for mayor's job, 13 candidates for council
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
The race for a seat at Okotoks’ council table is on and the issue of water is expected to dominate the debate over the next month as candidates argue over the best way to supply development in the future.
The nomination deadline to run for mayor and town councillor positions in the Oct. 21 municipal election passed on Monday and voters will see a long list on the ballot once again.
Okotoks resident Larry Albrecht is taking on Mayor Bill Robertson for the town’s top job, while 13 people, including three current councillors, are vying for one of six seats on town council.
Robertson said he has a lot he wants to work on if re-elected to a second term as mayor, including recreation, flood protection and, of course, water.
However, he said he isn’t stepping up to support one option over another. Robertson said Okotoks needs to look to the Bow River, either with a water line directly off the river or a pipeline from Calgary.
“That appears to be the best option for our community,” he said.
Recreation will also be a top priority for Robertson, who wants a second rink built at the Centennial Arena. He said he is hopeful this can be accomplished within the first three years of the next council term.
Robertson also said the Town needs to look at measures to protect against future floods, including armoring river banks to prevent erosion and looking at how the Town responds to floods and taking simple steps like having more pumps in the downtown area on stand by to prevent water from pooling in the area.
“We escaped this time, but that doesn’t mean we should sit back,” he said. “We need to do mitigation measures.”
Robertson said there is still a lot of work to do in a number of areas from attracting more doctors to town, getting more opportunities for people to be able to pursue post-secondary education in Okotoks and encouraging more people in the community to get active.
Challenger Larry Albrecht said the Town needs strong leadership with annexation and water issues set to dominate discussions in the next four years.
He said Robertson wasn’t able to get the job done on water and growth issues.
“I appreciate the service he’s provided the Town, but one needs to look at the record as well,” he said. “In his last three years as mayor we have no decision on water, we have a decision to go to the Supreme Court over (Wind Walk).”
Albrecht, a former principal with the Foothills School Division and town councillor in Brooks, said the outgoing council has been to slow to make a decision on a long-term water supply.
“I think the Town is certainly at a place where we need to make some critical decisions and stop analyzing and researching and doing surveys,” he said.
Albrecht argued council has enough information to make a decision on water and the finer details can be worked evaluated.
“I agree all of the cost estimates aren’t in yet, but you’re never going to figure out those kind of organization questions until you make a decision on which direction you’re going to go.”
Albrecht said a water pipeline to Calgary makes the most financial and environmental sense in the long-term. However, he is open to other options.
Thirteen people put their names forward to run for council, including incumbents Ray Watrin, Ed Sands and Matt Rockley. The rest of the field of challengers includes Ken Heemeryck, Geneva Clark, Nicole Watkins, Carrie Fischer, Stacey Lock, Tanya Thorn, Michael Douglas Moore, Jared McCollum, Lynne Pelser Karch and Sean Tyler Foley.