Election 2017:  Ask the candidates


It's time for municipal elections across Alberta.

In Canmore, the Commons is asking the candidates about their views on development and the environment. We're sending two questions to each candidate every Monday and giving them until Friday to respond. Their answers will be posted here each Monday and Thursday during the month-long campaign, which wraps up on election day: Oct. 16.

Mark your calendar so you remember to vote!





John Borrowman

(mayoral candidate)

Yes. We have been doing that for some time, through various initiatives as informed through the Human Use Management Review, Open Space and Trails Plan, and other planning reports. The projects that are developed each year in response to such direction will inform the amount of funding that is required, and council should then balance the funding request with all of the other project funding demands and priorities.

As an example, in the 2017 budget Council approved four capital projects that respond to these initiatives — totalling $95,000. We also dedicated a budget for approximately three-quarters of a full time equivalent position within the operational costs (staff time) for this work.

Ed Russell

(mayoral candidate)

The end goal is to solve the problem of corridor abuse. Signage and education MUST be supported with appropriate enforcement. We need boots on the ground to solve this issue, as it is currently being ignored. The province needs to be the lead partner on this issue in terms of enforcement activity and our Bylaw Officers need to be re-tasked, trained as needed and deployed appropriately. My preference is minimal expenditure on signage and education to protect the feel of being in the wilderness, NOT a theme park. Further, we need to spend what is necessary to train and equip our Bylaw Staff up to the levels to undertake this task. We must also be relentless in getting provincial participation in this program.

Mark Blackwood

My answer is no. I believe we the town should be spending more time enforcing the bylaw's people, dog, and trail use. The Town of Canmore bylaw enforcement agents must start and continue issuing fines for misuse of these wildlife corridors. A large portion of the revenue generated from fines should then be put back into better signage and education.

Wes Christensen

No response to the question.

Esme Comfort

The Town of Canmore already has budget allocated for this purpose through the Biosphere Institute (WildSmart total budget: $107,476 with the WildSmart allocation from Biosphere: $59,008) as well as through Town of Canmore infrastructure and Parks. I support continuing this funding and perhaps expanding it. Informing and educating the public must be part of a multi-layered strategy to promote appropriate use of trails in the Town of Canmore.

Kim Csizmazia

People need to know or understand WHY they should not go, with or without off-leash dogs, into wildlife corridors. A compelling “why” inspires action. An inspirational awareness campaign for residents, weekend or part-time residents (via letter, dog-license letter, tax assessments) and tourists is needed.

In town boundaries, enforcement and meaningful fines, not warnings, are important. And we can't enforce in the corridors outside town boundaries, that's up to the province, but the town should encourage and collaborate with the province to find a solution.

It would be preemptive to speak to an amount on a budget without more information. Could meaningful fines offset the cost? Could people be inspired to change their behaviour without a huge cost?

Chris Dmytriw

Yes I do support this. As far as how much? That I can not say, as I am not educated well enough in town budgeting at this time. 

I think education is the key to most things. Especially in the schools. Get them young! They will straighten out their parents! “Change the way people think and you change the world!” Also, education is less expensive in the long run than enforcing is. Take seat belts for example. When the law was put in effect in Alberta in 1987, it felt weird. Now it’s the norm.

Chad Friel

I support the town using a portion of taxpayers dollars to educate our citizens on wildlife smarts, dog care and a basic understanding of our town.  My plan is to implement an ambassador program, whether I get elected to council or not.  So many people still don't understand the basics of how to interact with wildlife. I think the budget wouldn't have to be that big, but obviously we'd let everyone know how much and once more signage and education is in place it would only get cheaper each year. 

Jeff Hilstad

I support looking into increased education, better signage and enforcement of our wildlife corridors. These initiatives will hopefully help raise awareness in our community for our residents and those who visit Canmore and could be effective in reducing wildlife/human conflict. With respect to how much needs to be budgeted we would have to look at the next budget to see what, if any funds were included for public education, signage and enforcement and see what the long term plan is over the next four years before making a final decision.

Jill Jamieson

I support education and outreach around this issue. I learned quite a bit through Leanne Allison’s film – Living with Wildlife. I had not realized it was such a significant issue until then. That is a plug for the film as an education tool! I think visitors and citizens want to do the right thing by wildlife. We need to be aware of the issue and ways to recreate that supports the corridors. The corridors are provincially managed so the Town would work with them to formulate education and outreach plans. I don’t feel I have enough information to speak to budget numbers.

Jeff Laidlaw

It’s a funny question in that it presumes the wildlife also know exactly where the corridors are and will stay within them ... BUT leaving that aside for the moment, public education is often the best solution to a situation and reminders are useful. Identifying areas “of concern” with wide geographical limits, by the use of signage, might be a relatively inexpensive way of re-affirming the message; mail-outs to registered dog owners/licence holders or some sort of package on licence renewal and the occasional reminder in Town of Canmore newspaper advertising (as space permits) would probably be helpful.

With respect to a  budget allocation I suspect we aren’t looking at much more than $ 20,000, and as there is already a line item in the 2018 budget related to Human Use Resource Management review, it would be a matter of changing the priority than finding new funds.

James Louden

No response to the email.

Karen Marra

The Town of Canmore's recent Human Use Management Review (HUMR) recommends increased education, signage, and enforcement of the corridors to encourage people to use official trails, and discourage people from using or building unofficial trails or walking their dogs off-leash. I believe the provincial and federal governments should bare the significant part of this budget, lets put more conservation officers on the ground to educate those entering these areas and then enforcement. I cannot commit to a dollar amount until I knew all the costs and know we have exhausted all moneys from government.I do support this as it means safety for all our all! 

Joanna McCallum

Yes, I would support spending taxpayer (both provincial and municipal) money on better signage and education. Council already currently funds a portion of Wildsmart, which focusses on education in their programming. As corridor enforcement is the responsibility of the provincial government, I would like to continue to push them to be active partners on this topic.

Vi SandforD

According to the Human Use Management Review (HUMR) by the Town of Canmore, the top recommendation was to provide “Signage that explains WHY and WHERE they [corridors] are is essential and should be clear in terms of what is and isn’t allowed in corridors, which is currently a point of confusion.”

I would need to have an evaluation of how much signage is required to accomplish this, to establish a budget. I would also put more into enforcement of off-leash dogs outside of off-leash areas (within the jurisdiction of the Town). In addition, there should be a quarterly report with the names of all owners fined for off-leash dogs PUBLISHED in Canmore Council Committee of the Whole Agendas, and/ or on the town page in the newspaper, to discourage repeat offenders, who have the financial means to ignore the bylaw. In addition, I would provide more off-leash parks, and biking trails outside of the corridors.

Rob Seeley

Yes, this is important and we need to do a better job of managing our wildlife corridors and work cooperatively with Alberta Parks to support them. The amount would depend on where the money could come from and available sources. Alberta Parks manages the wildlife and the town could assist with human use is my understanding. Education and signage are important, also a better look at identifying closures and enforcement.