Q & A

While on the Campaign Trail, I’ve heard many recurring questions, the answers to which are included below…

Q1 – What do you mean when you refer to the Fiscal Responsibility of the Town Council over the past 4 years?

  • 51% Increase in Reserves
  • 35% Decrease to the Debt
  • All Without Raising Taxes

Current Council Term Financial Indicators with photo

It has been a pleasure working with this fantastic Mayor and Council to also improve Cardston’s governance model and transparency.  I’m running for re-election to help keep council moving in these positive directions.

 

Q2 –  When will the town fix my road/sidewalk/_______[fill in the blank]?

The town recently completed a comprehensive Infrastructure Master Plan which helps the council determine the optimal priorities and scheduling for infrastructure projects.  For those interested, our CAO, Jeff Shaw, summarizes this plan in the following video between timestamps 17:14 – 1:06:06…

(3 minute highlight from 43:32 – 47:05)

 

Q3 –  What is all this talk about a potential update and expansion of Cardston’s War Memorial?

This was proposed in a recent committee meeting by Tim Court.  For those interested in more details, watch between timestamp 1:57-21:10 in the attached video

(3 minute highlight from 3:00 – 6:20)

 

Q4 –  What is being done about potential flooding in the new Atkins subdivision down by the golf course?

Gordon Atkins recently updated the council on the progress with his ongoing flood remediation in the creek and requested that council pressure the province to provide an updated floodplain map since the course of the creek and many of the relevant elevations have changed.  For those interested, see the following timestamps in the attached video…

3:25-5:10 – recent flooding effects on the Atkins lots

9:48-12:00 – council’s response to seeking new floodplain maps

26:30-27:52 – description of Mr. Atkin’s flood recovery work

 

Q5 – What is your opinion on Cardston building a new sports stadium/facility similar to the one they built in Raymond?

Raymond Stadium

The new Raymond Sports Facilities were a divisive issue for Raymond with considerable opposition.  On the one hand, they are unquestionably a wonderful addition to the town recreation offerings and an attraction that can help bring in new growth and development.  On the other hand, the total project cost was over $5.7 million and, while Raymond was successful in obtaining grants, donations and partnerships to cover $5.3 million, the local tax payers were still burdened with over $400,000 in expense.  In addition, there are now substantial ongoing maintenance costs that the town will have to budget for annually and it is reported that revenue from facility use will cover less than half.  These facts have upset many Raymond voters and it has become a significant election issue there.

In my opinion, when a town can leverage $400,000 of debt to get a facility worth $5.7 million it is certainly worth consideration. However, that decision needs to include other possible uses for that investment.  For example, what if that same $400,000 of debt could have been leveraged toward a $5.7 million energy generation facility (for which there are currently many good grant opportunities)?  Rather than burdening the community with ongoing expenses, such a facility would generate ongoing revenues directly reducing the local tax burden with the added potential of attracting commercial and industrial growth (with an offer of reduced energy costs).

There is no question that an upgraded sports facility would be well received by many in Cardston.  However, it is the duty of council to consider all the options and long-term obligations when making such a decision.

 

Q6 – Where can a person get more information about this splash park everyone is talking about?

This project is being diligently pursued by the local Rotary Club.  Currently they are still seeking regional grants and other funding sources and although several locations have been discussed, no final decisions have been made.  You can view their presentation to council in the following video from timestamp 3:00 – 36:20…

(3 minute highlight from 4:15 – 7:55)

 

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS

In 2013, the Cardston Values Alliance asked the following questions of each of the candidates. These were my answers…

1) Budget

Q) How do you feel about how Cardston is currently allocating its funds, and what are your suggestions for the city to raise money besides raising taxes?

A) Cardston is already one of the most fiscally responsible towns in the province.  I am very impressed with the initiatives being introduced to make each utility and service more self-reliant or self-funded.  This will bring in added funds without burdening the tax payers.  I would like to see more of the town funded programs returned to the private sector and non-profits.  More and more citizens need to recognize that when they are looking for government support or funding for a project, what they are really asking for are the hard earned tax dollars of working people.  The most responsible way to raise revenue for the town is to encourage growth and spread the tax burden over more people and consequently more businesses.  In another answer I list some suggestions on how to promote the kind of growth we all desire.

2) Seniors

Q) What can the town do to address some of the issues seniors are facing?

A) In addition to ensuring that our infrastructure is sufficiently accessible I believe that adequate care programs and facilities are of the utmost importance.  The many changes that have happened in health care over the past few years are unfortunately not working and it is time to look for new solutions.  The town needs to lobby more aggressively to the provincial and federal authorities who are reducing essential health services.  In addition, as a society we all can do a better job of actively taking a more proactive role in the care of our elderly.  We have slipped into a culture of passing on too many responsibilities to paid professionals.  I also believe that more volunteer organizations should be encouraged to ensure that there are sufficient senior social activities.

3) Sunday Sports

Q) If the subject of sunday sports comes up again, where do you stand?

A) A year ago when the subject came up I volunteered to go door to door asking for signatures on the Sunday sports issue.  It became quickly apparent that the vast majority of this town does not agree with opening Cardston’s public parks to organized sporting events on Sunday.  In addition, I was present in the crowded council meeting where not a single person spoke in favor of changing our current by-law.  I, therefore stand with the majority of Cardston on this issue.

It is not closed minded to vote your conscience.  It is not bigotry to stand up for what you believe.  It is not discrimination to have a day of rest from organized sports on public property.

4) Personal values

Q) What are your personal values and ideals that would be a guiding force to you as you make decisions that would effect our town?

A) Over the past few decades a new definition of freedom and agency has unfortunately been finding its way into our “progressive” society.  This new philosophy promotes freedom without consequences and agency without accountability.  These same people claim that right and wrong are relative while insisting that it is “wrong” to legislate morality.  Then, through legislation, they aggressively impose their “morality” on the rest of us.  Sadly those who disagree with this new philosophy are being neutralized and silenced by our confusion of what freedom and agency really are.

We marvel at the declining morals in society and yet we are unwilling to take a stand for what we believe to be right for fear of accusations of bigotry.  In Cardston I have learned that I can get a majority of the town to agree to either side of a moral argument just by asking the same question in 2 different ways.  Take for example the issue of alcohol.  If I were to go door to door and ask, 1) “Do you want to be able to buy alcohol in this town?”, The majority of Cardston would agree that they do not want it.  But if I complicate the question by asking, 2) “Do you think it is right to force other people not to buy alcohol?”,  The majority of Cardston would come to the conclusion that forcing other people is bad so they would eventually be manipulated into voting in favor of alcohol even though they might be personally against it.

Contrary to what some might want us to believe, the presence of good moral laws doesn’t take away anyone’s agency.  You are still free to choose.  However, some choices may have negative consequences.  For instance, right now it is illegal to drive over the speed limit.  That doesn’t take away your agency, you can still choose to drive recklessly, but if you make that choice, you need to accept the possible negative consequences that come with it (such as heavy fines, loss of driver’s license or even jail time).  There are no laws restricting late night parties with your friends.  There are laws, however, about how much noise you can make late at night in proximity to other houses.

When it comes to making laws, I believe it is always best to err on the side of freedom.  However, I don’t believe we have to compromise our community values or lower our collective standards to allow what we consider destructive immoral behaviour or to tolerate the unfavourable, knowingly destructive choices of others.  Tolerance is inherently a negative word.  Nobody tolerates things that are good, we only ever tolerate things that are bad.  If anyone asks you to tolerate something, they are admitting that it is an undesirable negative thing.  It is OK to vote for good and moral things and to stand up for what you believe.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded of that.

5) Attracting business

Q) What are the positive aspects of Cardston that you feel promote and encourage people to move here, and stay here, and what changes do you think could be made to help Cardston attract more business? Also, what needs to be done to bring a sister college of Southern Virginia University into town, and is this something you would like to see?

A) I believe that the best thing Cardston can do to attract new people to move here and to start new businesses here is to maintain its moral standard as a light on a hill, as a safe haven from the growing darkness of the world and as a known sanctuary of peace and responsible freedom.  There are already so many Pincher Creeks and Lethbridges out there that if Cardston tries to become more like them we will fail to compare on too many levels.  However, as we continue to be a unique model of moral courage, people will be drawn to this town for that very reason.  I’m not just speaking hypothetically.  That is exactly what brought me to this town and many other families that are moving here and trying to make it work.  They aren’t moving here because of the fantastic employment prospects, they are moving here because of what Cardston is.

It then becomes our responsibility to advertise to the world what we have here.  To invite them to come see it for themselves.  Ways to best do this have been discussed many times, by many different groups.  Building attractions ranging from a modest tepee village to a huge united first nations / mormon / hutterite historical cultural center. There have been discussions about bringing the temple pageant back, hosting an annual Moroni’s Quest type pageant for the public, 3 day covered wagon trail adventures that run through the summer, handcart building classes for preppers, etc.

There is a lot of support for the idea and I’m confident many people would get behind it, but so far no one has successfully been able to bring a project of this magnitude fully to fruition.

I see this initiative and SVU as parallel complimentary goals. Big dreams, I know, but if a campus were built alongside a dynamic cultural arts center it would provide much needed summer jobs for the students. I don’t see why we couldn’t host rotating festivals; June – First Nations culture, July – Mormon heritage and just for fun, I say we throw in an August – Shakespeare Festival.

The trick is not to get overwhelmed. There are realistic first steps I think we can be taking and we definitely have the talent in this town for it.

To start, we need to raise the $500,000 scholarship fund that SVU has already asked for and then send at least 25 southern Alberta students down to SVU to show our commitment.  Next we’ll need to raise the $12 million necessary to begin construction on the campus here.  To support this dynamic growth, the infrastructure of the town will need to be seriously upgraded.  More reliable sources of water will need to be accessed.  More affordable, off campus housing will need to be planned and developed.  In addition to the students, the school will have teachers, those teachers and some of the students will bring their wives and children, leading to a greater need for more local elementary school teachers, more doctors, more grocers, more everything.

This is my 5 year vision for Cardston and I am willing to volunteer countless hours and help overcome the many obstacles we face to make it happen.

6) Multiculturalism

Q) What do you feel we as a community could do to unify ourselves with our neighbouring communities, namely the Blood Tribe?

A) There is an unfortunate yet obvious rift between the citizens of Cardston and the members of the Blood Tribe, even though our communities have existed beside each other since Charles Ora Card settled here. I believe that we all agree the time has come to heal this rift. If increasing numbers of Cardston citizens begin to greet and converse with members of the Blood Tribe, we will find some common ground we can share and build upon. The best way to bridge cultural gaps is through social contacts and visiting the other culture.

We need to plan more activities that we include them in while participating in more of what they organize.  We need to invite them into our homes and get to know them better.  We need to visit them in their homes and learn to understand and respect their unique culture and rich heritage.  At the end of the day, we are all just normal people with hopes and dreams, needs and wants.  As we discover that we have more in common than not, we’ll realize that there is no need for a rift any longer.  We should no more desire that they become more like us then they would desire us to become more like them.  However there is much of great value that we can learn from them waiting to be tapped into.  Soon we will all discover that it is no longer appropriate to use terms like “us” and “them”, there will only be us.

7) Listening to Citizens

Q) How do you plan on listening to the public about issues that matter to them? For instance, if they made petitions, contacted the press, and presented information to council about things such as chickens in town, how would you handle those situations?

A) I will do everything I can to make myself available to citizens with questions or concerns.  I would hope that my willingness to answer this survey is good evidence of that.  I believe that citizen involvement is essential to a free society.  The people are the check against government misuse or power usurpation.  Although a proper democracy is a rule by majority, the rights of those who find themselves in the minority should also be protected.  This means that everyone has an equal voice, but it should not be assumed that one opposing voice is equal to a majority in consensus.   As an elected official I will always strive to represent what I understand to be the majority view, duty bound to vote my conscience based on what I believe to be best for the entire town using all of the information available to me.  I also believe it is part of that duty to, when asked, sufficiently explain how I came to my conclusion and why I chose to vote the way I did.

Though I am personally against roosters of any kind, if the majority of the town want chickens, if they have spoken with their neighbors to confirm there are no objections or potential conflicts and if they are willing to follow strict guidelines as to how they are to be kept and cared for, then I would have no problem voting in favor of chickens.

8) Public Health

Q) Public Health is of great importance to our community. As a councillor or Mayor, you would be able to affect some decisions that would impact health, specifically fluoride in town water and mosquito pesticide fogging the air. What are some of your principles surrounding public health, and what are your opinions about the two examples shared?

A) I agree that public health is of great importance.  Although I am not a doctor, I have read multiple studies that raise a lot of doubt about whether fluoride actually does what it was put in our water to accomplish.  For that reason, I understand many municipalities under the advice of peer reviewed experts are now choosing to take fluoride out of drinking water and instead making fluoride tablets available to anyone who wants to keep using them (the actual percentage of families who want and use the tablets is shockingly low).  I also believe that the people in this town are tired of needing expensive filters just to get it out of their drinking water.

As far as mosquito pesticide, I have also heard of some potentially dangerous lasting health concerns that should not be disregarded.  I’d like to see alternative methods used first such asmosquito-larva eating minnows, larvicide, bats, etc.

9) Promoting Cardston

Q) How do you plan to help promote and advertise Cardston’s businesses, events, and activities to it’s citizens and to people outside of Cardston, as well as informing the public about what is happening in council?

A) As I’ve worked with the Cardston Chamber of Commerce, it has become apparent that the advertising dollars of the individual businesses are magnified exponentially when combined together in collaborative advertising efforts.  The local business community needs to stop thinking as individuals and needs to start working and planning together as a group.  I think the best way to accomplish this is to have a common vision, something that all businesses agree to and are willing to support together.

In addition, we need to move into the 21st century taking advantage of the proven benefits of social media and mobile marketing.  A large percentage of Cardston residents now carry smart phones.  I would like to see the town develop a Cardston Citizenship App where people can get regular notifications and updates as to what is happening in the town.

10) Alcohol

Q) Although allowing sale of alcohol in Cardston would require a plebiscite, and is therefore not up to council, views on alcohol are still pertinent to understanding the intents of councillors. Therefore, what are your thoughts about the sale of alcohol in Cardston?

A) Alcohol is destructive.  The consequences of making alcohol sales legal in this town go far beyond the obvious dangers of drunk drivers.  The tiny economic gain for the few businesses that would benefit is far surpassed by the huge financial burden it would place on the community as a whole in extra police obligations, rising emergency and medical costs, marriage and family counselling, property destruction, etc.  In addition, it is not worth the added risk to our youth.  I believe that the majority of the citizens of this town feel the same way and until it is proven otherwise, I will honor and defend our original agreement with our Blood Band neighbours to keep access to alcohol limited this close to the reserve.

In addition, I believe we should stop apologizing for the fact that we don’t have alcohol and start advertising it.  I think we would gain far more visitors to this town by promoting our unique standards than we ever would by lowering them.  We need to broadcast to the world that Cardston is a protected sanctuary of peace and responsible freedom.

IMG_2770

 

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1 thought on “Q & A

  1. I agree with most of your opinions. Being in the community health field i agree that we need our community to get more involved with our seniors and help them to stay in their homes as long as we can. We need to be more aware of there daily needs and offer to help more often. Shovel their walks, cut their lawn, walk their dog. Our seniors are a vital part of our community and they have so much to give! Good luck Billy.

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