By Justin Seward
The Redcliff Lions Club hosted a forum for the town’s incumbent councillors and new candidates in front of 79 citizens at Parkside School on Oct. 3.
The evening began with the candidates giving their two-minute introductions, followed by more specific questions that moderator Lori Johnson of the Redcliff Lions Club had directed to a select few candidates.
Mayoral candidates including incumbent mayor Ernie Reimer and Dwight Kilpatrick while all the candidates, with the exception of JD Gaetan, and the three area Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) candidates Arnold Frank, Pam Cursons and Meredith Conby were all in attendance.
Johnson asked Kilpatrick what challenges the town will face in the next 10 years.
“Everybody on council is always trying to look forward and plan out as to what our needs are going to be, what are growths is going to be, what our challenge are going to be and most people have always sat down and tried to prioritize and get a grip on the future,” said Kilpatrick.
“Where I look at Redcliff, we’ve done very well on a lot of small things. Four years ago we had a planning session. We came up with 13 priorities and strategies. Three and a half years later, we did it again. We came up with another dozen priorities, amazingly enough these same priorities came up in second-go around as the first go-around, with exception of two, we finally accomplished. I think the biggest challenges we face as a council is getting together on our priorities and making a conservative push to accomplishing them one at a time.”
The moderator asked incumbent mayor Ernie Reimer about his accomplishments as mayor in the last four years.
He highlighted the completion of the water treatment plant, the grants obtained to allow for the renovations at the Rec Tangle Arena and the ongoing infiltration and inflow study for the sanitary storm infrastructure, which has been deemed at the top of the strategic plan list.
The 670 Bike Club has been a welcome addition with the work they have done on trails as well as the Ironhorse business who have employed 250 employees, according to Reimer.
He also a part of the process of bringing a doctor to town in 2015.
“In my estimation the town is in very good hands,” said Reimer.
“I would like to take the opportunity to continue making Redcliff a vibrant, safe and enjoyable community to live in. I look forward to completing some make-up projects that have been identified in our strategic plans, projects that are available for the growth of our town.”
Future projects that Reimer would like to see come to fruition is an eastside school and a recycling program.
New candidate Chris Czember was asked what a good councillor means to him.
“In my opinion, what I hope to be, a good councilman, first off has passion,” said Czember.
“I think from the introductions we’ve had so far, I think we can agree that everyone has a passion for the community and passion for their upcoming, hopeful job or else they wouldn’t be here.”
He owns Who’s on Third and DD’s Doll House and sees potential with some past and present councillors themselves who have owned businesses.
“ I’ve operated two businesses here and had some rental properties for the past 20 years here in Redcliff,” said Czember.
“ So I’m very much invested in Redcliff. It’s not by coincidence that some of today’s most influential and best council members and council members from the past have been local business owners. I think a lot of those traits carry over and translate well from being an entrepreneur into being on council.”
A forum attendee had stepped up to the microphone to express her concerns about not having a seniors home in Redcliff.
Kilpatrick responded to her inquiry saying that the town has not looked into having a developer come in and drawing out a plan for a building and there has not been any talks about expanding the little home that is ran by the Medicine Hat Housing Authority.
“There’s nothing saying we can’t look into it,” said Kilpatrick.
“I’ve known people that have moved from Redcliff and some of the reasons they told me was they were worried that as they age, even if they have a place, they lose their ability to drive. We don’t have a bus service so that’s caused some people to move.”
Reimer was in agreement that there needs to be more discussions on the topic.
There would have to be a push from locals to make it a council priority.