By Alderman Wayne Rothe
I wanted to know what the new candidates running for Spruce Grove city council are hearing at the doors during this campaign, so I asked them.
I questioned aldermanic candidates Michelle Thiebaud-Gruhlke, Dave Oldham, and Jan Gillett, who at the time this was written had been to 25,000 doorsteps between them. The issues they’ve heard most are the proposed sport and event centre, managing growth, and photo radar.
“Citizens are concerned,” says Dave Oldham, “that our growth is outpacing our ability to provide quality services and opportunities for the growing population.”
One concern of high growth rate that Dave is hearing is vehicle speeds – particularly on residential roads. “They are concerned for pedestrian and vehicle safety.” On a related note, he says residents are also concerned about crime.
Jan Gillett says that the proposed sport and event centre is the top issue she’s hearing about. “Many residents believe it’s too much money to spend for a facility that they don’t know enough about, or for a fancy hockey arena,” Jan says. “Residents are concerned that our city council only cares about hockey. Many residents want to know why the City hasn’t asked for their opinion on it.”
Jan is also hearing about transportation. “Residents tell me getting around the city is a challenge if you don’t own a car. They say you have to own a car to live in Spruce Grove and we’re getting to be too big not to have transit.”
Michelle Thiebaud-Gruhlke is being grilled on photo radar. She says that many residents see it as “a cash cow. I have done a survey on my website and the majority of the responses have been that it has to have a bigger presence in school and playground zones. Hiding on 16A behind signs and bushes isn’t cutting it anymore. People want real and effective change to the program, if not throw it out.”
Michelle is also hearing a lot about the SEC. “The primary concern,” she told me, “is the cost and the effect on taxes. People don’t want to be paying a large amount of money for something that they weren’t even really consulted about. They don’t want to spend $80 million on what seems to be one use.”
All three candidates say that door-knocking gives them the opportunity to engage residents and that it will make them more effective if elected. A couple mentioned a high level of interest in the election, predicting a higher voter turnout than last election’s 23 per cent.