Seven incumbent electoral area directors are vying with challengers to represent rural communities at the Fraser Valley Regional District board.
The Progress decided to ask the candidates a series of questions, which will be summarized in the editions leading up to the Nov. 19 municipal elections. The candidates' full responses are listed below.
Because the role of electoral area directors became an issue with the restructuring of the FVRD, the first question asked candidates what they saw as their role, if elected, and the role of the regional government in general.
Most candidates saw the regional government's role as providing services needed in the rural areas not included in the region's municipal jurisdictions of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Hope and Agassiz.
But, as expected, all the candidates had different views on their role as area director.
In Area C (Hemlock Valley/Lake Errock/Morris Valley and part of Harrison Mills), challenger Mel Waardenburg said his role as electoral area director would be to ensure residents "get what we pay for" through their property taxes.
"The services provided to us by the regional district should be reviewed and changed accordingly, with direct input from the communities and residences that are affected," he said.
Richard Faulkner, also vying for the Area C seat, said he believes his role as director is "to ensure the people I represent have their valid concerns/problems heard."
"My opinion on issues isn't a factor. I feel it is my duty to make the opinions of those I represent heard," he said.
Wendy Bales, the incumbent in Area C, also saw her role as making sure residents voices are heard, but she pointed out that the full board must approve decisions.
"Sometimes area residents think that I work directly for the FVRD, but my role is to represent residents' concerns to the FVRD," she said. "That includes broader FVRD resident interests as it does with many full board decisions."
"I only represent one vote at the board level, so I can't always achieve what my area residents want," she said.
Taryn Dixon, the challenger in Area E (Chilliwack River Valley/Columbia Valley) shared that view of the restrictions on rural area directors.
"If elected, I will be part of a larger board, and at time must consider the bigger picture and long-term plan for the entire region," she said.
But Dixon promised she would "listen to diverse points of view" and act as a "reasonable voice" to mediate between the differences.
David Lamson, the incumbent in Area E, also noted that area issues go to the new Community and Regulatory Committee for discussion, but approval must be sought from all board directors.
"To take effect, all decisions must have the approval of the majority, so proposals get scrutiny and need to be sound to get approval," he said.
In Area A (Boston Bar/North Bend), challenger Jim Fougere said his role "should be to encourage present and future economic development."
"If elected, I would foresee the regional district to be accountable in assisting and supporting Area A in becoming a stable economic area," he said.
Lloyd Forman, the incumbent in Area A, said he would "continue to work on myself, the other elected officials and staff to move further away from the attitude of 'Angry God' and closer to the position of servant, leaving the taxpayer as the one in charge."
Responses from Area F incumbent Dick Bogstie, Area D incumbent Bill Dickey and his challenger, Michael Henshall, can be found on the Progress website.
Responses from Area G incumbent Al Stobbart, his challenger, Lea Ricketts, and Area F challenger Ray Boucher were not available at press time.
Candidates complete responses:
Jim Fougere, Area A candidate
The primary role of the Regional District in our area should be to encourage present and future economic development.
If elected I would foresee the regional district to be accountable in assisting and supporting Area A in becoming a stable economic area.
Lloyd Forman, Area A incumbent
The primary role of the Regional District is to facilitate and assist the community with their requests and desires while keeping them functioning within the rules of law.
My role as Regional Director will be to continue with my regular scheduled town hall meetings on the third Thursday of every second month, so that there is clear communication between the people paying the bills and the people spending the money.
I will also continue to work on myself, the other elected officials and staff to move further away from the attitude of Angry God and closer to the position of servant, leaving the taxpayer as the one in charge.
Andy Bishop, Area B candidate
The primary goal of all regional districts in the province is to deliver services, and provide administration for the delivery of the services.
The role of the electoral area director is to be the unbiased voice of the people of his/her area.
Dennis Adamson, Area B incumbent
What I see as the primary role of the regional district government in my area is making sure that the people are provided with the services that they want at the same time having them pay the lowest possible amount of taxes for those services.
If I am re-elected, my role as Electoral Director will be to ensure that this is continuing to happen, while at same time lobbying the Fraser Valley Regional District, the Provincial and Federal governments to make sure that the policies that they are implementing reflect the values and concerns of the people in Area “B” .
Mel Waardenburg, Area C candidate
I see the primary role of the regional district government in electorial area "C" as a service provider, as it is today. The regional district provides us with services such as parks, water, sewer, streetlights, planning etc and we pay for them through our property taxes.
My role as an electorial area "C' director would be to insure that we get what we pay for. For example Morris Valley Lineal park, which is basically a trail running along the Harrison River, is a service provided by the Regional district. The local residences pay almost $30,000 per year for this service, with little or no say in how the park is administered.
I believe that with local input and community cooperation this tax burden can be reduced greatlly. This is just one example and as the needs of the area changes in time, the services provided to us by the regional district should be reviewed and changed accordingly with direct input from the communities and residences that are affected.
Colin Faulkner, Area C candidate
I feel the primary role of the regional district government in our area is to ensure the community has an avenue to deal with anything from personal property issues to issues that effect the entire community.
If elected I feel it is my job as a director to ensure the people I represent have their valid concerns/problems heard. My opinion on issues isn't a factor. I feel it is my duty to make the opinions of those I represent heard.
Wendy Bales, Area C incumbent
First and foremost (my role as director) is to represent the residents that live in my electoral area on area issues. One of the good things about local government is that it is non partisan. That means that I can work directly for resident’s interest without any particular party interest to cloud the issues.
Sometimes area residents think that I work directly for the FVRD, but my role is to represent residents concerns to the FVRD. That can includes broader FVRD resident interests as it does with many full board decisions. I only represent 1 vote at the board level so I can’t always achieve what my area residents want.
Making sure that my area residents are well informed has been important to me and can help toward making the process more democratic. If more people have timely information, it is easier for me to get feedback in time to effectively work on their behalf.
Sometimes other levels of government can prevail over local issues and government. In many cases I advocate on behalf of residents and often suggest resolutions for policy changes needed. Looking at the bigger picture of the cause and effects of past decisions and of those being considered, can go a long ways towards ensuring better decisions for a more sustainable, healthier and affordable future for area residents.
Michael Henshall, Area D candidate
The Fraser Valley Regional District's primary role in our area is to provide cost efficient policy and operation of services that are needed for the district's infrastructure and resident's safety and well being.
The FVRD is responsible to provide good value for services rendered to the area residents. The service the FVRD provides is to be relevant to the times and needs of area residents. As one example; many Popkum and area 'D' residents are without high-speed internet. One new family resident is surprised of this since they know of a small village in the mountains of Mexico that has high speed internet, yet areas of the Fraser Valley do not.
The FVRD is to make decisions based upon opportunity for area residents, at the same time taking into consideration all those affected by their decisions i.e. other residents.
The FVRD must provide an updated Official Community Plan (OCP) which includes, zoning, bylaws, and restrictions that provides for the needs of area residents while taking into consideration other residents needs, and environmental factors.
The FVRD is responsible to make decisions in a timely manner that is not bureaucratically heavy and full of red tape. The FVRD is responsible to provide friendly, inviting, courteous service to area residents.
My role as area 'D' Popkum/Bridal Falls area Director is to make myself available, listen to the needs of area residents and represent them in FVRD decision making.
Bill Dickey, Area D incumbent
The primary role of the regional district government is to reflect the wishes of our community in guiding the growth and development of the area. Another important function is to oversee the delivery of high quality and cost effective services to its residents. Every community has its own character and its important that the elected representative makes sure those qualities are expressed in the evolution of the area.
If I am re-elected I will continue to listen carefully to the direction I am given by my fellow residents to ensure their wishes are translated into policy. In the past bringing good governance at moderate taxation levels, while building upon the natural setting of the area, have been priorities. I expect these qualities to continue to be important. Our community has been a peaceful and harmonious place to live and I will make an effort to see that continues.
Taryn Dixon, Area E candidate
The role of the Regional District, as outlined in legislation, is to ensure that all residents in British Columbia have access to an elected, representative form of local government. They work in partnership with municipalities to provide some services to the entire region, such as 911, hospitals, regional parks and mosquito control. The role of the Fraser Valley Regional district is to be fiscally responsible with public assets, to be responsible with land use planning and to foster the current and future economic, social and environmental well-being of the community. Regional districts also deliver localized services such as water, fire protection, community planning and nuisance regulations to those who live in rural areas and unincorporated communities.
If elected, my role as area director is to be an advocate for the residents living in the specific Electoral Area E-Chilliwack River Valley, Columbia Valley and Cultus Lake.
In the regional district the province owns a large portion of the land and can choose to log it or mine it. This causes disagreements between the residents, the province and the companies involved.
Currently in FVRD there are struggles with gravel mining and logging of an old growth forest. I will listen to diverse points of view, be a wise advocate and a reasonable voice to mediate between the parties involved. I’ll also be responsible with finances and the environment and will manage growth in a way that allows public input and is considerate of the rural lifestyle. I will work closely with Regional District staff, weigh all the opinions and make decisions in the best interests of Area E.
If elected I will be part of a larger Board and at times must consider the bigger picture and the long term plan for the entire region. I have a common sense approach, training in conflict resolution and problem solving and am able to clearly present thoughts and ideas. I will work hard to protect the environment and the air shed of the entire region.
David Lamson, Area E incumbent
The primary role of the FVRD in Electoral Area E is to be the local government, which means providing services to the local communities. This includes such things as fire departments, emergency management, planning, building permits, water systems, and sewer systems. In electoral areas each service must have its own budget and is paid for by the benefitting area.
If elected, my role is to work for the most effective and efficient services possible and to bring forward new proposals for services as requested.
Electoral Area E is one of the seven electoral areas and has one vote at the FVRD Board. To take affect all decisions must have the approval of the majority, so proposals get scrutiny and need to be sound to get approval.
Electoral Area E is a large area from Chilliwack Lake to Cultus Lake and the Canadian/USA border. There are many communities, and it is a full time job, seven days a week to represent them all. I am retired and committed to giving the time and doing the best job I can.
The electoral area director is responsible for seeing that electoral area issues are worked through the Community and Regulatory Services Committee (CARS) made up of the seven electoral directors and then approval is sought from the Board.
Dick Bogstie, Area F incumbent
The Regional District provides many of the local government services normally provided by municipal governments but taylored to the needs of the community. There are many services that are common across the area that are paid for by all such as zoning and land use planning. There are also services that serve only a portion of the area such as a water system, unlike municipalities only those that benifit from these types of service pay for it.
Regional government is the purest form (of government).
My role will be to ensure that those services required by law and those requested by the people are managed in a responsive and fiscally prudent manner to provide the best to all, as cost-effectively as possible. I have to listen to and take the requests, enquiries, and desires of the area and see that, wherever possible, these request are met and in a timely manner.