Local candidates vying for seats on Strathmore’s municipal council, as well as the mayoral seat for the upcoming term, were invited to address the public during an online forum hosted Oct. 6.
The forum was hosted by the Strathmore Wheatland Chamber of Commerce via a Zoom meeting. The line was open to anyone who wished to tune into the meeting, though only candidates and the MC were permitted to speak.
Though not permitted to address specific candidates directly during the meeting, the public was allowed to submit their questions to the Chamber prior to the start of the forum. These questions became the discussion topics for the candidates.
To keep the forum moving quickly and smoothly, candidates, after being selected randomly to speak on a topic, were given one minute to present their views on a question that was also drawn from a hat.
Among the discussion topics included questions around local economic recovery and encouraging local business.
“First of all, I think we need to be emphasizing local here in town. We need to have an increased priority on locally sourcing our procurement where possible,” said Melissa Langmaid. “Additionally, we also need to showcase Strathmore (as a) great place to live, a great place to work and a great place to own a business.”
Similarly, Brent Wiley suggested a renewed emphasis on establishing new local enterprises and supporting existing local businesses.
“Our council needs to figure out how to help our local businesses, we need to figure out how to encourage new businesses to establish themselves in Strathmore and we also need to figure out how to better support the businesses that we have,” he said. “There (are) a lot of different groups you have to be working with … How are we all working together and communicating on this? What’s already been done by the current town council?”
Nicole Gibbons, the third and last candidate to comment on the question, noted she had a different approach in mind.
“I would like to see an increase in downtown events – make it easier for businesses to host their sidewalk sales, to have their Midnight Madness’, to have street performers show up. Anything to draw that downtown foot traffic,” she said. “I would like to perhaps offer some incentives to some of the building owners downtown that have not been maintaining their storefronts to a very aesthetically pleasing (standard).”
Gibbons concluded her statement by suggesting the implementation of town-issued parking passes for employees regularly parking downtown.
Further discussions and suggestions from candidates included more prolific use of mixed-use buildings to encourage both business and residence, creating a streamlined long term business plan and encouraging residents to shop locally instead of out of town.
Strathmore’s municipal election will be held Oct. 18. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on the day of. Advance voting will be open on Oct. 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. with voting stations located at the Strathmore Civic Centre for both advanced and day of polls.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times