OPINION: This municipal election too important to sit out

Change is coming to Chilliwack; this is our time to define that future

Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the most important elections in this city’s history has also become one of its most divisive.

On both the school board and city council, change is coming.

It is now up to us to determine that direction.

On council, there will be at least three new faces at the end of day on Saturday. With the retirement of Chuck Stam, and the decisions by Ken Popove and Sam Waddington to run for mayor, at least half the council seats are up for grabs. The three remaining incumbents are facing challenges from a deep and talented field of 11 individuals.

What’s at stake is important.

It’s no exaggeration to say Chilliwack stands at the cusp of an exciting future. The redevelopment of the downtown, the addition of Molson Coors to the city’s economic base, the continued potential of Canada Education Park, and the final commitment of support from other levels of government to address the city’s pressing social concerns all draft a portrait of opportunity.

But challenges remain. And having a team in place with the skills necessary to meet those challenges is why this election is so important.

Success also takes leadership – leadership that can be trusted; leadership that can marshal the support of others around the table. True, the mayor is only one voice at that table. However, the candidate we choose to fill that chair will set the tone for the next four years. It’s a choice that should not be taken lightly.

Change is also coming to the Chilliwack school board. Of the seven board seats, three are empty. The four incumbents face challenges from 14 candidates.

The board we pick will also face an eventful four years. New school construction is just one of the urgent needs of a growing community that is attracting a younger demographic. Our ability to lobby the provincial government effectively will be critical to getting those schools built. We also need to ensure we can attract and retain staff necessary to fill those new schools, in addition to the ones we already have. We want our schools safe and welcoming to all students, their parents, and district staff. We want the new curriculum rolled out smoothly, with adequate resources in place. And we want a board that is effective, collaborative and communicative in the role it was elected to serve.

We have the opportunity to shape the next four years in Chilliwack. Some have already taken that opportunity at advanced polling stations this week and last.

Saturday is the chance for the rest of us.

Do your research.

Take your time.

But vote for the kind of community you want to live in.

It’s important.

Greg Knill is editor of the Chilliwack Progress

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