It’s not apathy – It’s barriers

Reading Time: 1 minutes

During the last municipal election I had a rather disturbing conversation with one of the folks running for council. The gist of the conversation was that I believed that city hall, elected councillors and city staff could do a better job of engaging, informing, inviting and generally including constituents in local initiatives, decisions and plans.

His suggestion was that I should pay more attention to the newspaper and just be prepared to jump at the few chances there were for engagement.

I may have also suggested that if city hall was a regular business and the marketing department repeatedly came back saying .. uh, well, we put an ad in the paper, guess no one was interested… they’d be job hunting really quickly.

Finally someone more eloquent than I has said exactly what I wanted to say. Thank you Dave Meslin!

What I expect from my local government, at the very least, is information and invitations to participate, both delivered in a variety of formats and in plain language. Is that really too much to expect?

What do you expect from your government officials?


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Chilliwack Municipal Election – The Candidates, My Views

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Update: I’m just going to keep adding to this and will post updates as things emerge. You can scroll down to the original post.

In an earlier post I looked at the candidates through the lense of technology with the view that digital literacy is becoming more important. Now I’ve had a chance to listen to and read the responses of the candidates and am finally at a point where I feel I have a sense of their level of literacy or capacity in other critical areas. These include:

Local knowledge – An understanding of the history, demographics and relational context with which to make decisions for the city and it’s constituents.

Business acumen – Running a city is a business and the ability to think like a business person is critical.

Language of diplomacy – Local politicians represent us and our interests to groups outside of the city. We need people who can disagree with an idea without stooping to name calling and other aggressive or passive aggressive practices. We need folks who can advocate while maintaining the relationship.

Systems thinking – This include both the abilty to see the connectedness of decisions, how one thing impacts and changes another, and the ability to anticipate the long term impact of those decisions.

 Collaboration – The ability to share a vision and be part of a team that is driving toward that vision.

Inclusiveness – The willingness to include and invite constituents into the decision making process.

Leadership presence – The abilty to present to groups is a necessary part of being a politician. Coming across as professional, intelligent, civil, organized and a person of substance is important. Even servant leaders need a solid public presence.

More later…

Original post

On Friday October 21st the first round of all candidate meetings took place in Chilliwack. ( Full list of all the folks running.) I was there for a couple of reasons. I was already there as part of the Business Conference sponsored by the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, I was there to support Jason Lum, one of the candidates and of course I was there to figure out who to vote for.. besides Jason – he’s my first choice but I still need to make my mind up about the other 5 seats 🙂 So this is my take on the candidates and in no way should it be confused with Jason’s campaign or his views nor should it be viewed as a completely objective account of what each candidate said.

Each of the 16 candidates present had three minutes to introduce themselves and then were invited to respond to six questions with a one minute time limit on responses. Below is what I recall, some of it based on notes made by a colleague. I’m also including digital footprint information because that matters to me. I want representatives that know about and understand emerging culture and technology. I see digital as a new literacy and I want literate folks running the city. To be fair I Googled each candidates name + Chilliwack to see what would come up in an organic search.

Candidates, if I have misquoted you please feel free to correct me in the comments section. Again, these are my views and more first impression than anything else.


16 of the 20 candidates running in this year municipal election


The Introductions

Rob Stelmaschuk – Background in corrections, mostly youth, retired early. Seemed to be supportive of more industry and low-income housing. No web or digital presence that I can find.

Ron Wedel – Began with four score and 20 years ago quote. Injured on job years ago, now full time grampa and would-be politician. Noting related to his running on web other than the mentions generated by the press about ht eelection in general.

Stewart McLean – Incumbent, talked about his involvement with the Mayor’s Committee on Housing. Funeral Home owner. He Googles ok, mostly because of business and involvement with City Hall and hospice society. Found his website via Kijiji ????

Mitchell Nosko – Small business advocate, owner Principle Air Ltd. Concerned about vacant buildings downtown and want extended parking times in downtown core.  – Has a a solid web presence Twitter @MitchellNosko and Facebook page

Ken Huttema – Long history of being involved with sports as coach. When I searched found some info related to coaching.

Dick Harrington – Your active senior. Committed to being able to work full time as he is retired. Long history of political involvement in Ontario. He has a facebook page which is cool of him but his official email is a Hotmail account and that kind of scares me.

Sue Attrill – Incumbent. A lot of what she said sounded a lot like the vision and values statements from Jason Lum’s website so either she is in alignment with his vision or she was really, really influenced by it. Neither such a bad thing. In search she did come up and there was some negative press along with some positive entries.  No dedicated web page that I could find though. She does have a brand spanking new Twitter account @Sue_Attrill, no website listed on here profile there either.

Mike Britton – Opposed to business development and P3s. Involved in Youth basketball. Digital footprint related mostly to basketball and recent news articles about the election.

Garth Glassel – Welder by trade, wants to bring “common sense” back to council. Want to advocate for tax breaks for small business. Search shows him listed in Canada411, not much else.

Gerry Goosen – Contractor, greenhouses, dairy farmer, real estate. Want unlimited parking downtown, increased police presence. Advocating for Euro-model, bike lanes type thing. Goosen Contracting comes up in search.

Gord Kornelson – Fraser Valley Custom Printer owner. Wants a good “family community”. I know he has a website up but couldn’t find it in basic search. He has a QR Code on the promo material he left on the tables.

Jason Lum – Spoke about his campaign vision and stressed that city councilor was one person on a team. Taking leave from duties as Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce president to run. Has massive digital footprint.  Twitter @jasonlum Facebook

Brenda Currie – Brenda means business! Google search resulted in easily finding whereshe works, phone number and  my life link, doesn’t look like there’s a dedicate website for the campaign though.

Ron Browne – Big on health. Former hospital CEO, big on crime prevention. Yay has a web page, yes it’s is only one page but at least it’s there

Phill Bruce – Paramedic. Big on fairness and “voice of reason”. Down on big box stores. No web presence.

Chad Eros – Accountant from Alberta. Wants to get more provincial and federal money to support infrastructural and other city stuff. Nine kids.. yes, NINE. His wife and #9, very freshly born, was sitting near me and she looks amazing for having 9 kids. His digital life is kinda hard to follow because his name is also the name of a musician really active on MySpace. A Twiiter profile came up that looks like it might be his but it’s a dead link (cached so he might have deleted it). I do know that he has another, new, Twitter account @ChadErosChillBC which works fine. I thought he had a website too but can’t locate it organically.

Updated – Chad is from Saskatchewan and his website and blog are now coming up in search.

Responses to the six questions.

Not everyone responded to every question and again, these are notes, the take away and certainly not everything that was said.

1. What can City Council do to create jobs in our community?

Nosko – Mentoring program

Stelmaschuk – Movie production

Britton – Agricultural manufacturing

McLean – Keep doing what we’re already doing

Lum – Fair & equitable taxes, CEPCO doing great job, elect people that can “sell” the city to new business, investors

Eros – Economic stimulus $

Currie – Keep promoting business

Harrington – Focused on what worked in the past

Browne – Look at the development process and associated cost

Bruce – Downtown Revitalization = Jobs

2. What is your opinion on how Council should balance population growth and “grassroots” feel of Chilliwack?

Attrill – Talked about hillside development and creating “small, walkable” neighborhoods

McLean – 65% o Chilliwack is Agri land

Stelmaschuk – Low-income housing

Lum – Manage growth, smart land use, engage the community and listen to the people

Eros – Re-zone Agri land

Harrington – This is his #1 issue; strong supporter of ALR; focus on downtown

Huttema – Balanced growth & Housing (cited Webster block); Provincial mandate for growth

Goosen – Wants to cap growth

Wedel – Stay the course

3. How do you address the Downtown Revitalization?

Stelmaschuk – Cover downtown

Kornelson – Give back to current owners of downtown (businesses and residents); not City’s prob.

Britton – Bring ALL development downtown

Glassel – Long-term vision; don’t throw $ at the problem

Lum – ALL areas of Chilliwack must be considered; best way to support is to shop there

Eros – Downtown theme; all about Prov. & Fed. dollars

McLean – Missed his point

Wedel – Buy Canadian

Goosen – “Theme” for downtown, echoing Eros

Bruce – Downtown security network

Currie – Take a page out of other cities’ books

Harrington – Niagra Falls reference

Browne – Health contact centre as a mean of systemic change

Huttema – 57 new businesses in downtown in last year

4. Ryder Lake Grow-Ops/Funding RCMP? (Question posed by moderator, not one of the many submitted by folks attending the event)

Goosen – Stiffer penalties

Attrill – Work with UBCM for stricter enforcement around med. marijuana licensing

Lum- Crime is a community problem, coordinated lobbying effort to change legislated restrictions; good relationship with RCMP is crucial, complex issue due to cross border challenges

Britton – Legalize it and tax it

Wedel – Has issues with Justice System – lobbying Federal courts

Stelmaschuk – Referenced Al Capone – get ‘em for tax evasion

Nosko – Legalize pot and remove profit incentive; organized crime is the problem

Goosen – Prevention Model; simply educate children to eliminate the demand

Glassel – City Police Force

Bruce – Look at all options; defended the RCMP

Huttema – Clarified restrictions on RCMP; zone certain areas of the city for grow-ops

Harrington – Legalize it. Said  he doesn’t smoke the stuff.

Lum – (in response to other candidates) Cited demand for drugs from U.S. gangs – think before legalizing and taxing

Eros – Create opportunity for Youth

McLean – Changes to Fed. law; support “social issues fallout”

Browne – People need to report concerns

5. How do we balance Agriculture and Population Growth?

Britton & Goosen – Cap the growth and population

Eros & Stelmaschuk – Crack down; look at re-vamping the system

Bruce – Agri land status quo

Nosko – Buy local

Huttema – Currently developing an Ag. Area Plan

6. What is your position on Rapid Transit

Stelmaschuk – There is no communication currently

Nosko – CHAMPIONS – his #1 issue

Harrignton – Is a “fan” of light rail

Britton – Favours but needs political will

Lum – Focus on local public transit first then larger system of Valley transit

Bruce – Do we need it? Can we afford it?


So, those are the notes for those who couldn’t be there.

I’ll continue to add what I can to the conversation.

The Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB) has a website call The Valley Votes and a Twitter profile  and both look like great ways to get to know the candidates. Kudo’s to them for setting that site up!



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