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MAYORAL CANDIDATES FOR ROSSLAND: Andy Morel and Kim LaFond

Submitted photo: Mayoral candidate Andy Morel surrounded by airborne bees. Kim LaFond did not submit a photo.

Published here in the order received -- our two mayoral candidates’ answers to the questions posed by the Rossland Telegraph (RT). These answers are  not edited, except that any response longer than the word limit imposed has been shortened to fit within it, without changing the meaning of the answer.

One of these two men will be Rossland’s next mayor.  The choice is ours, Rossland voters. Exciting times!

ANDY MOREL:

RT:    Brief personal introduction:

MOREL:   I have been a Rossland resident for 24 years and have loved the Community since moving here. I have seen substantial change as Rossland has grown and transitioned into a vibrant, year-round tourist destination and an attractive permanent home for many newcomers with renewed energy and an increased youthful and active population.

I have been a City Councillor for the past 8 years and Representative to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary for the past Council Term and have gained the knowledge and experience needed to help shape Rossland’s future.  

I have owned and operated a retail outdoor sports store, worked in home improvement, and health care management. I have a diploma in Recreational Leadership.

I am a past board member for Rossland Council for Arts and Culture and Black Jack Ski Club, where I am also a past president.

I am a Cross-Country Ski Instructor, a backyard farmer, father, and doting grandfather.

Municipal politics keeps me busy, but in my spare time I can be found either working on my home retrofit, gardening, and tending to my bees, or enjoying the outdoor pursuits the Kootenays have to offer.

RT:    Mayors can have a big effect on tone-setting and teamwork on municipal councils.  How would you like Rossland’s council members to interact with each other when contentious topics bring out differences of opinion?  

MOREL:   Setting the tone early is important. Staff and professional team-building opportunities set up the Council for success, and workshops are already being organized.

Preceding Councils and staff have worked to establish rules of engagement and expectations for appropriate behaviour at the Council table and in the greater community.

As mayor and chair of Council meetings, it would be my duty to maintain decorum and to call out inappropriate behaviour and comments. I will be diligent to ensure civility is respected.

Even during discussion of contentious topics, I expect each member of Rossland’s Council to be courteous to each other and to staff, and to stay on topic.

In Council, the majority rules. An individual Councillor may not get their own way but must respect the decision of the Council and not disparage it publicly. A Councillor may state that they disagree but respect Council’s decision.

In the past two terms, we have had great people at the table who respect each other’s opinions. After meetings we all go out for a refreshment.

RT:   Rossland is part of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, which accounts for a large portion of our property tax bills, and Rossland sends a representative to sit on the RDKB board of directors. What qualities do you think our RDKB rep most needs to serve effectively there?  

MOREL:   A Rossland representative to the 13 member RDKB Board must be a good listener and willing to learn. This complex combination of municipalities and regional Areas have various shared services, shared budgets, shared staff, and some competing interests. A Rep must have the ability to work with a larger team, think regionally and realize the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

An RDKB rep must also be a good communicator. There are multiple monthly meetings with lengthy agendas to read. After meetings, the rep must be able to disseminate what is important to Rossland, summarize, and report back verbally and in writing to Council and the public.

RT:   How do you think Rossland can best address climate change at the municipal level?

MOREL:   Rossland Council has already taken a leadership role in addressing climate change. We have committed to 100% renewable energy by 2050;  started electrifying public works equipment;  purchased an electric fleet vehicle for our bylaw officer; we have an electric bike purchase program for staff; we have upgraded infrastructure to support unpredictable storms. Our Firesmart program is an important mitigation tool. Rossland was an early adopter of a metered water system.

Through a significant grant and loan from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, energy efficiency at Rossland Yards was substantially upgraded.

Our sustainability commission provides input on ways to green the city.

As mayor, I would work to:

·         Incentivize energy upgrades on older Rossland housing stock by providing rebates on building permits that achieve a high level of energy conservation.

·         Support waste diversion through curbside composting in the autumn of 2023.

·         Launch the Home Energy Leadership Program (fully funded by Columbia Basin Trust and Fortis)

·         Promote the reduction of fossil fuels in all aspects of our lives.

·         And finally, continue to work with The Climate Caucus, a municipally driven, nationally recognized advocacy group to lobby provincial and federal governments to increase support for municipal projects.

              RT:    What are your thoughts about the proposed magnesium mine on Record Ridge? 

MOREL:  Personally, I am anxious to see it not happen. While advocates for the mine have touted jobs and economic value for the community, I see it as diminishing the intrinsic environmental and recreational assets generally coveted by our residents.

As well, additional mining-related truck traffic on the Cascade Highway would create safety and maintenance issues.

Finally, open-pit mining in general is very invasive and destructive to the natural ecosystem. But this is mostly in the jurisdiction of the provincial government. We will be consulted, and Council will decide how to respond when and if the time comes.

              RT:    Optional:  your choice – what else would you like voters to know about what you think is important for Rossland over the next few years?  

MOREL:  These are uncertain and disconcerting times for many people. We have not been immune to the impact of climate change, the pandemic, rising costs, and global economic and political instability. Nor have we been exempt from social media campaigns of deliberate misinformation, scapegoating, and personal attacks, often anonymous, and often targeted to people who serve their communities.

So now, more than ever, we need strong voices. We need experienced and thoughtful leadership. This, alongside the wealth of new Council candidates who have come forward in this campaign would, if elected, bring intelligence, innovation, diverse opinions, and progressive ideas.

The day-to-day operation and services of the city are crucial to the health and happiness of our citizens.

Therefore, I want to assure you that my intention is to provide prompt and competent leadership from council and staff; to prioritize your concerns, to listen, to address community issues, and to act within the scope of my influence.

 

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KIM LAFOND:

RT:    Brief personal introduction:

 LAFOND:  I was born and raised in Rossland, We raised our 2 daughters in Rossland and they are raising their children in Rossland and Trail. I have worked and enjoyed my life in and around Rossland all of my 66 years. I have been heavily involved in many Organisations ,  in Rossland including the Royal Canadian Legion, where I have been President numerous times. My work life started at Cominco where I got my Journeyman's Papers as an Armature Winder, I later worked at Martech Electrical Systems as Shop Foreman and later worked on many construction jobs. I am now semi retired and own my own Snow Removal company, this gives me the time to fulfill any obligations that being the Mayor needs. I am committed to put in whatever time and energy it takes to be the Mayor of Rossland.

RT:    Mayors can have a big effect on tone-setting and teamwork on municipal councils.  How would you like Rossland’s council members to interact with each other when contentious topics bring out differences of opinion? 

LAFOND:  I feel that I can be very useful as Mayor, my good traits are being a good communicator, a good listener, a good problem solver and being compassionate to everyone's needs and wants. As a council contentious items will come up from time to time, as Mayor I will keep Council focused on the subject, allow for every counselor to express their opinion, allow them to be heard and allow a debate, only after this will a vote be held.

RT:   Rossland is part of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, which accounts for a large portion of our property tax bills, and Rossland sends a representative to sit on the RDKB board of directors. What qualities do you think our RDKB rep most needs to serve effectively there? 

LAFOND:   The Counselor that represents Rossland at the Regional District board table will have to be a strong voice for Rossland and a good negotiator. A good portion of Rosslands tax base goes to the Regional District and we can have an influence on where the money gets spent if we have the right person at the board table. The Regional Director is on the Board on behalf of Rossland Council and Rossland's citizens, they are not there to follow their own personnel addenda.

              RT:   How do you think Rossland can best address climate change at the municipal level?

LAFOND:    Climate Change is starting to be very noticeable in Rossland, the number of snow days per year has gone down, the summers have been drier and longer than I remember, how do we as a Council make a difference in the fight against Climate Change? By planning on reducing fossil fuels, by putting in place goals that have set dates, by having experts showing how we collectively can reduce our footprint on this Earth, by encouraging Citizens to install things like Solar Panels and purchasing electric bikes and cars.

              RT:    What are your thoughts about the proposed magnesium mine on Record Ridge?

LAFOND:   The Magnesium Mine proposal for Record Ridge is going to be a big topic of discussion in Rossland in the near future, this could be a very contentious issue for Council and Rossland's Citizen's. Historically Rossland is a mining town, City of Trails existence is based on the predecessor of the Teck operations which were only built because of the Rossland mines. Magnesium is in short supply across the globe, Magnesium could be a lower cost, more powerful and less volatile substitute for Lithium in Battery's as well as many other uses.

              RT:    Optional:  your choice – what else would you like voters to know about what you think is important for Rossland over the next few years?

LAFOND:   I'm running for the Mayors job because I want all of the amenities that make a good town to remain in Rossland, Ice Arena's, ball fields, Curling Rinks, Museum, library, Miners Hall and schools are essentials for a vibrant town. I feel the need for affordable housing, it will surely be on Councils agenda and I am also wanting to enhance seniors housing. I would like to see a facility in Rossland that could handle the 3 levels of care for our seniors, independent living, assisted living and extended care. I will work hard and put in the time that being a Mayor takes, please vote for me as your new Mayor. I am asking everyone to vote.