1Why are you running in the election?
I believe with strong leadership Okotoks can build a future where possibilities are realized for the entire
community. For more details see
2What are the foremost challenges that you intend working on, should you be elected?
3In your opinion, what makes Okotoks great and what could make it even better?
The people in our community are what make us great. An exceptional community is achieved by
teamwork. Recognizing the strengths of individuals/groups throughout the community, in the
organization and on Council will allow us to empower them to create/find and/or implement solutions to
challenges we face as a community.
4How would you describe the importance of arts and culture programs, services and facilities in Okotoks?
This is a key area of focus for me. There is a lot of research that shows an investment in arts and culture
returns 3x that investment back into a community. As we move forward though pandemic recovery Arts
& Culture initiatives are going to be key to help reconnect us as a community and bring us back together
in celebration. There are many initiatives under this banner that I would love to see advanced - film
industry policy, outdoor art projects, activating indoor space around art displays. I also feel that an
education program on how arts and culture program/services impact our daily lives would be
worthwhile. A key initiative for me will be moving a performing arts facility to completion. I would love
to see plans and construction begin in this term.
5What do you feel should be done to secure a stable water source for the town?
6Do you think the arts contribute to our local economy? If so, how?
Absolutely it does. In a variety of ways depending on what is happening. Plays/events see additional
dollars spent in our community for meals, drinks, coffee etc. The creation of any arts also makes an
impact as many supplies are purchased locally. When you have a vibrant arts culture it also tends to
create more events and spinoffs to support these events/programs or activities. Another area we have
seen a benefit is in the decrease of graffiti because of the outdoor art program we have created for the
washroom facilities and the electrical boxes.
7What do you think about the town council's and mayor's role in promoting sustainability, renewable energy and conservation?
Municipal Government has a role in promoting all of these items. We have been a leader in terms of
water conservation as community and have moved most of our facilities to renewable energy over the
past 5 years. We will also be rolling out a program at the start of the New Year which will allow
residents to implement renewable energy and sustainability projects at their homes. It is called the
Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP). There does need to be a lens on these projects to ensure
they are returning the expected value and are cost effective.
8Why has our property tax increased 18.66% over the last 8 years but our wages have only increased by 5.44% and inflation during the same period was only 15.56%? And this doesn't include the education portion, utilities and franchise fees, which has also increased during that same time frame. This is just the increase to property tax. I also believe that I heard you say this evening that there will be an increase of 2%. So it would be 20.66% over 8 years if that is the case.
This question is only looking at 1 element of the budgeting picture. To have a conversation on tax rates
we need to look at a complete financial picture - inflation rates, service level changes, new
infrastructure, Provincial downloading and growth would just be a few of the areas that need to be part
of the analysis. When we look at a complete picture we can then discuss if we are receiving good value
for the dollars being spent.
For the time period referenced I have tax increases as the following for a total of 16.1%. As you can see
we are at or below inflation with the exception of 3 years.
From my perspective taxation is an INVESTMENT by citizens. It should not just be about what we pay. It’s
about investment and re-investment in what we own, our desired quality of life and service levels.
To compare our tax increases to ONLY wages in my opinion is flawed. We need to be looking at what the
inflation rate is at minimum as it is this number that has a direct impact on our expenses. Wages are
part of this basket of costs. Inflation rates for this same period are:
Municipal/Consumer Price Index
In this same time period this is a small sampling of the increased service levels/infrastructure
management that has occurred in our community:
2014 South Emergency Services Building Opened, 2014 Regional Field House Opened, 2014 Scott
Seaman’s Arena Shared Services Agreement Started, 6 RCMP Officers Added, Electrical Tariff &
Insurance rates increased, Annexation of 4900 acres of land, Increased fleet & flood prevention
equipment, Increased Community services & programs, vegetation Control, increased turf & urban forest
maintenance, maintenance agreement Champion Park, 2015 Pason Arena Expansion opens, expansion
of spray park & addition of outdoor washrooms, online streaming of Council Meetings
annexation fees to Foothills County, increase in fire code inspection, introduced Water Meter Portal,
Foothills Centennial Centre Transitioned to Town Operation, 2019 24/7 fire services opened at Fire
Station #2, 2019 added 3 new Joint Use Facilities to scheduling system, 2019 integrated 7 day Snow
Clearing on pathways, 2019 implementation of Asset Management Program, 2019 Free Public Wi-Fi in
Recreation Facilities, 2019 Economic Development Initiatives, 2018 implemented 24/7/365 Call centre
for Transportation & Parks, added online recreation program website, updated Okotoks.ca, increased
Digital forms to improve workflows & processing times, 2019 launched curb-to-curb Okotoks Transit,
2023 Summer Games, subsidized Taxi Program increased, addition of after-school program for 12-16,
3 New Firefighters, Increase in public lands turned over from developers, implemented Long Term
Financial Health Framework, 2020 creation of a new Municipal Development Plan, 2021 creation of a
new Land Use Bylaw, 2020 move to priority based budgeting, 2021 Addition of 60,000 sq ft for ALC
The education portion of the tax bill is determined by the Provincial Government and is a complete flow
through. I am on record as disagreeing that Municipalities should be collecting the education taxes. This
should be a Provincial responsibility.
Municipal utilities – Okotoks is regionally competitive. We did a full utility analysis in 2019 and our
systems are priced to ensure an appropriate asset management program and a return on investment to
the residents of Okotoks. This return comes in the form of a direct transfer between 1.5 - 2 Million of
revenue to reduce property taxes.
Franchise fees have only increased twice in the past 8 years. In principle, third party utilities should pay
for their transit across municipal lands – which we all own.
9Is the Arts and Learning Center on budget or over budget? If it is over budget where will these funds come from?
The Arts and Learning Center is on budget.
10What are your thoughts on adding fluoride back into our water?
I feel that this is actually an AHS issue and should not be up to individual municipalities to determine as
they have the actual health data. I am watching what the plebiscite question on Calgary's ballot vote is
in relation to fluoride. I am not opposed to looking at it but I do know changes were made at our water treatment plant when it was removed that would require us to make infrastructure changes to add it
back in so I would need to understand what that impact is.
11How important is a robust program of public art to the health of a community?
Very important - public art has the ability to connect the community in a variety of ways. It can be used
to bring the community together to create something. It also is a fabulous way to showcase skills
available in our community in a very visual way.
12Would you support the development of a Public Art Policy in Okotoks?
13Why has the Franchise Fee been added to our utility bills? Why does it continue to increase?
Franchise fees have been part of our utility bills since I was elected to Council in 2013. They
exist to ensure utility companies are paying their share on accessing the utility rightways in
Okotoks. Franchise fees in another source of revenue for a municipality. We did a review in
2019 which showed we were not within the same range as our peers (see chart below). The
Alberta Utilities Commission approves rates we currently are at the top rate of 20% for
electrical. We are at 16% for gas. The maximum rate allowed is 35%.
|Electricity Franchise Fees
|High River, Strathmore, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and 10 Others
|Turner Valley, Black Diamond
|Natural Gas Franchise Fees
|ATCO Gas-South Customers
14How do you envision the arts being integrated into the Arts and Learning Campus in the future? (ARTS includes, but is not limited to visual arts, music, theatre, film, photography, crafts, writing, spoken word, dance, etc.)
I would like to see programming/classes for a wide variety of these things integrated into the ALC. There
is also the opportunity to display a variety of different types of items throughout the building to
showcase pieces that are for sale and/or that are being created in the community. Would be nice to see
a revolving change on what is displayed in the building. The outdoor plaza will be a great space for the
events/performances throughout the year. With the addition of phase 2 to the current campus I hope
to see more production/learning space available for classes as well.
15What are your thoughts about residential property taxes, keeping the town's expenditure in check to keep within the budget, while being mindful of necessary projects as well as the financial hardship being faced by an unknown number of town residents during these troubling and uncertain times?
I believe we need to start this conversation to explain exactly what is included in a tax bill. This would
allow us to have a more thorough conversation about value for money. We are all stretched in terms of
taxes so ensuring we are spending on areas with best value and using those dollars most effectively is
key. We also need to recognize that delaying projects, maintenance etc. has a long term impact on the
community. It is also important to ensure we are clear on what we are doing/trying to accomplish so
residents understand the rationale for expenditures.
16What is your view of the Federal government's policy to allow/promote municipalities banning firearms (handguns)?
This should be implemented by the Federal Government if they wish to do this as Municipalities do not
have authority on this legislation. By allowing every Municipality to pick and choose if they are
implementing it will create confusion across the country and in my opinion result in very little
compliance. I am also of the mindset that a bylaw like this only impacts law abiding citizens; it does little
to address the criminal concerns.
17Would you support publishing an inventory of the buildings and properties owned by the town and the justification for purchasing/holding those properties from an economic and strategic perspective on Okotoks.ca?
Assets the Town owns are all on public record. Happy to discuss how this is provided going forward.
18Do you believe Elected Officials should maintain transparency and an 'open door' policy? If yes, how will you communicate with the citizens and business owners of Okotoks?
Yes. I have a track record of engagement throughout the past 8 years and this will not change if I am
elected Mayor. I will also be looking to create a consistent engagement platform with all of the Council,
administration, residents and businesses. I am open to ideas on what that looks like. Some ideas I have
are at least 2 Town Halls per year, online webinars to answer questions and continue communication on
Council meeting outcomes.
19With regards to the CMRB (Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board) does Okotoks plan on remaining on this Board?
Okotoks involvement with the CMRB is legislated by the Provincial Government. It is expected that the
Minister of Municipal Affairs will approve the CMRB growth plan after the municipal election and will
provide clear direction that everyone in the region needs to participate. As we are legislated to be a
member and if we do not participate it is continued a vote in favor of anything that comes before the
Board Okotoks will continue to be at the table.
20Are the taxpayers paying to renovate the old library for Bow Valley College? If so, how much is it costing us? Also are we also on the hook for all furnishings for the Arts & Learning Center, that was to be fundraised by the Library Board?
The improvements being made at the old library are leasehold improvements. The cost of these
improvements are factored into the lease rates that the new occupants will be paying for this space. All
of the occupants of the space in the Arts & Learning Center are paying for and supplying their own
21Do you feel the town should create municipal policies and practices that support affordable, accessible, and inclusive housing?