Familiar race in Millarville area
Election 2017: Barb Castell running against Jason Parker in MD of Foothills Division 3
Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017 06:00 am
There’s a rematch underway for the MD of Foothills Division 3council seat.
Former Div. 3 coun. Barb Castell has thrown her name into the ring against incumbent Jason Parker for the municipal election. Castell was the Division 3 councillor for two terms before being ousted by Parker in 2013 by 151 votes. She said she’s been contacted by some residents who have encouraged her to run again.
“I’m very involved in the community and usually when someone asks you to run there’s a reason,” said Castell.
She said she’s not sure “what went wrong” in 2013, citing a bout of appendicitis and emergency surgery as possible reasons for her loss, as it prevented her from door-knocking for two weeks during the month-long campaign.
Now she’s ready to fight for a seat back on council. With two terms on council she said she understands what the role entails and how big the commitment is, with weekly meetings and a number of committee responsibilities.
The biggest challenge will be getting back up to speed on things like municipal committees, intermunicipal matters and the growth management board.
She said the MD is facing a lot of pressure with development and growth and she’d like to have a voice in making plans for the future.
The key for development is taking things on a case-by-case basis, she said.
“You can’t be pro-development or anti-development,” said Castell. “Every situation is unique and every division is unique. But you have to listen to the residents, and it can’t be just cut and dried.”
It’s also important to be open-minded to ideas, she said, such as when the MD opted to partner with the Town of High River to build a medical clinic in the town that would serve residents of both municipalities.
“There were some people who thought the MD shouldn’t have been involved, but it was a good fit and that partnership was great, so you do have to be very open-minded,” said Castell.
One of the key issues she’d like to see addressed in the next term is high-speed Internet and stable cellular service for residents in the MD’s west country.
“These are seen as things you need to have,” said Castell. “I think it’s to the point, with so many people working from home, they need a service. It’s like a utility now and it needs to be provided to everybody.”
Parker said he wasn’t surprised to see Castell run again this year. He said he’s up for the challenge and it doesn’t change his platform or approach to issues.
“I just want to continue serving my residents as best as possible, and I think I’ve done a lot and accomplished a lot in a short period of time, and I just want to do a whole lot more,” said Parker. “This has just been the beginning of what I want to do, but I feel I’ve done a very good job and I’m very proud of the job I’ve done.”
For Parker, the most important issues moving forward are ensuring responsible development and maintaining the MD’s autonomy as the growth management board comes into fruition.
He’s been attending Calgary Regional Partnership meetings to stay on top of what’s happening in the region, even though the MD withdrew its membership from the CRP in 2010.
“Even though the MD had opted out of the CRP, I still chose to attend a lot of those meetings so I had an idea of what was going on and was prepared for moving forward with the growth management board,” said Parker. “It’s a big concern for the MD, because our autonomy is really at risk of going away with the planning taking place in the MD being driven by the larger municipalities, and that’s something we have to be careful with as we move forward.”
He said the construction of Calgary’s ring road will increase interest in development in the MD of Foothills by providing easier access to the northwest end of the municipality. It’s something that will need to be monitored carefully, he said.
Parker said there are many things he’s been proud of over the past four years, such as helping people deal with buy-outs and claims after the 2013 flood and establishing recreation opportunities in Division 3 like Seaman Sports Park ball diamonds and soccer fields.
There’s still much more to be done in both areas, he said, and he’d like to see it through another term.
“It’s been a really rewarding experience, but the best part is just that I love my residents and I love to be able to help people,” said Parker.