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Jolene Airth running for Rocky View County's Division 3 seat

A long-time resident of northwest Rocky View County (RVC) is hoping to nab a seat in council chambers on October 18. Jolene Airth is the first candidate registered for RVC’s newly formed Division 3 seat in the upcoming municipal election.

A long-time resident of northwest Rocky View County (RVC) is hoping to nab a seat in council chambers on October 18.

Jolene Airth is the first registered candidate for RVC’s newly formed Division 3 seat in the upcoming municipal election. Having lived north of Cochrane for 22 years, she said she sees the need for stronger compatibility among councillors.

“I just really feel the relationship [among] council members needs to change,” she said. “I don't believe they can be effective with sanctions and lawsuits. I think they need to work together as a team, they need to respect each other, use common sense and approach things with integrity and honesty. That's what I want to give to this group.”

Airth said her experience serving on public boards and non-profit organizations provides her the qualities necessary to be an effective councillor. She said she previously served on the parent council for Westbrook School and has been involved with local and regional 4H clubs, as well as the Stockmen's Memorial Foundation in Cochrane. She said running for council is “a natural progression” from her prior volunteer work.

Professionally, Airth said she works in medical insurance, and previously worked for Calgary Lab Services. She said her family also owns a sheep farm – Big Hill Sheep Farm.

“That's a big passion of mine and my family, caring for the land and agriculture,” she said.

As for her platform, Airth said she is most concerned with the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board's (CMRB) regional growth strategy. RVC, Wheatland County and Foothills County all recently opposed the CMRB’s regional growth plan, though the plan was still approved with support from the CMRB’s seven urban member municipalities.

“I believe Rocky View needs to have a strong unified voice when they're dealing with Calgary,” Airth said. “I'm quite concerned with how this is all going to play out, so we'll see what the minister comes up with. [The CMRB] is a big concern, as I feel Rocky View, Foothills and Wheatland may be forgotten and swallowed up by the huge city. We don't want to do that – we're a diverse and unique area, and we need to capitalize on that.”

Considering a more local focus, Airth said one of the main election issues in Division 3 this fall will likely be candidates’ stance on gravel pit developments. Earlier this year, RVC council considered two applications for gravel extraction in Division 3 – an operation in Bearspaw, which was rejected, and one near Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, which council approved.

Airth said she is “neither pro-gravel nor anti-gravel,” but noted the County will have to accept the fact it is a much-needed resource that is abundant within the region.

“But we also have to be responsible in our mining of these areas,” she said. “We have to be cognizant of the neighbours, the transportation, the roads and how it's going to affect the water and our natural resources. A lot of due care and questions need to go into this.”

She took a similar position on development as a whole, saying she wants to analyze each development proposal on its own merits to see if it would be best for the community.

"We need to face reality that there's always going to be change and development requests,” she said. “We need to approach that with an open mind and we need to follow those filters of water, residents, traffic, the environment – all those things. We have to really put it through all our filters and decide where is the best place, because inevitably, there's going to be development in our areas.”

As of press time, Airth was the only candidate registered to run for the Division 3 seat. Other candidates who have registered for the upcoming election include Jeremy Stinson and incumbent Jerry Gautreau in Division 6, Mark Jette in Division 5 and Roc Spence in Division 4.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

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