Q & A with District of Kent councillor candidates

Kent councillor-hopefuls answer the Observer’s questions

Questions for District of Kent councillor candidates:

1. What two qualities make you best-suited for a role as community leader?

2. Where do you see opportunity for growth or change in the District of Kent?

3. Give two concrete examples of how you plan to ensure the spending of tax dollars reflects the needs and wants of the community?

4. As more development is proposed across the Fraser Valley, it’s possible land in the Agricultural Land Reserve in the District of Kent could become vulnerable to re-zoning. How will you approach designating, protecting or potentially re-zoning ALR land?

Kerstin Schwichtenberg


1. Practical experience in business and agriculture, and an ability to take in large amounts of information, prioritize, and get to the heart of the matter.

2. My vision is a dynamic, diverse, inclusive community built around, but not exclusive to agriculture. I imagine a vibrant downtown and safe neighborhoods with bike paths and walking trails. I believe in smart growth, sustainability and good planning. We live in an amazingly beautiful, richly fertile place. Let’s build on that.

3. First, adhere to the Official Community Plan. It represents a great deal of cost, time and effort, and is an excellent reflection of community input. Second, make every effort to live-stream council meetings, and relate council news to the public.

4. Our farm is next to town. Like the Teacup property, it is close to roads and utilities. That is an asset, not a problem. We live on the best farmland in the world. This will always be foremost in my mind when making difficult ALR decisions.

Stan Watchorn


1. I believe my prior experience in Municipal Government (Village of Harrison Hot Springs and Regional District) are very helpful in what will be required of me as a member of the District of Kent Council. In addition I feel that my knowledge of our community and common sense approach to solving problems will be helpful.

2. I believe the direction that the District has been going is the right direction. We have a strong agricultural community, a stable business core and a growing residential sector, ensuring the sustainability of all is an important task for Council. With proper planning and regulation an appropriate mix of agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial zoning, we can ensure a healthy and sustainable community.

3. There are many similarities between managing your household costs and managing municipal costs. If you ignore the maintenance of your house or your vehicle there will be a large and often unexpected cost to restore things… likewise with municipal assets, proper maintenance and planning can extend the life of firefighting equipment, roads, ditches, pumping stations, water and sewer systems. This comes from good fiscal management and planning.

4. Hillside development is one solution but it is a more costly one and the prices of this type of development may not be accessible to everyone. The Harrison Highlands development if primarily populated by families who have sold their homes in other communities and moved to the development. Another solution that has been happening in the town site proper is the densification of development.

Duane Post


1. My previous experience serving as Councillor for the past seven years and my honest common sense approach to issues concerning our community are the two qualities that make me best suited for the role of Councillor.

2. Outdoor recreation and trails as well as small business opportunities, particularly in downtown Agassiz, are areas in which I can see opportunity for growth in the District of Kent.

3. Some concrete examples of financial responsibility are to ensure that during the budget process there is greater opportunity for public input. I encourage participation in open public budget meetings so that the voices in our community can be heard in a transparent way. If re-elected for Councillor, I will ensure that the budget information is made available online before it is adopted. Therefore, if persons in the community have concerns they can comment on it. In addition, continuing to stay up to date on grants that are available and then implementing them where applicable.

4. ALR land is regulated by the Agricultural Land Commission, it is not up to Council. There are some areas identified in our Official Community Plan for residential reserve and heavy industrial use. Agriculture is a huge component of our community and I will always support that.

Susan Spaeti


1. I am a life-long resident who is engaged with the public and invested in this community. Together with my husband I am a local business owner so I have sound knowledge of responsible fiscal spending. I listen and want to work with residents to continue to have a thriving community that is sustainable with its residents healthy and successful.

2. There is opportunity for more business growth in our community. Old properties are being cleaned up and new businesses are emerging and investing here. This can continue to grow. We are surrounded by outdoor recreational opportunities and we also have a wonderful indoor facility. We need to capitalize on these opportunities and develop them to provide residents a healthy community.

3. My past experience proves that I listened to what residents wanted and budgeted that way. In 2017 Council surveyed residents and this is a great guiding document that I’ll continue to follow for future budgets. I would continue with the Financial Plan Open Houses that allow residents to discuss with Council and Staff how they want their tax money spent.

4. I believe the ALR must be kept for farming. As a Councillor I have, and will continue to encourage businesses downtown and develop opportunities there. I believe densification and sustainable growth off farmland must be properly planned for by using the OCP as a guiding document. We need to look long term what is best for the whole community.

Erin Kelley


1. I have the enthusiasm and motivation that this district needs. I bring a fresh perspective, an unbiased opinion and advocate for the growing needs of the people in our district. I am committed to the demands of being on council and would bring diversity to the table.

2. I support an open-door policy in welcoming economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and developers who wish to relocate or build in our community. These initiatives need to be carefully weighed against our values and our collective strategic goals. I respect the hard work that has gone into conserving this agricultural community and want to see that continued for generations to come.

3. The demographic of Kent is changing with more young families moving to the area. There is a need for access to improved amenities, not only for families but for seniors alike. With any growth, there should be an equal amount of effort spent on infrastructure and programs. I am an advocate for posting our expenditures quarterly and including the public’s input in approving budgets.

4. I believe in protecting the ALR land in the district of Kent. Our residents have voiced their opposition to re-zoning and it would be my role as councillor to ensure they are being heard.

Ian Gardner


1. First is sound decision making with common-sense. I look at every situation with an open mind, listen to those involved and do my research. Being fully versed and confident are crucial as a vital voice for the taxpayer. Secondly, Forward Thinking and vision. We have to prepare for the future with Fiscal responsibility and pro-activeness.

2. The areas of opportunity are in Commercial Accommodations, to capture Tourist dollars, through a Hotel, Motels and R.V. Parks. Also, improved use of Recreation Facilities by promoting what we have. for example, Centennial Park can be used more for Ball Tournaments, Camping Jamborees and Car Shows. Keeping in mind, generating revenue at a reasonable rate for use.

3. Firstly, to ensure the areas in need are identified properly and reflect future growth. Secondly, that, sound Long-term Financial Planning includes these needs going forward. It is important the Taxpayers get “ The best Bang for their Buck!”

4. ALR Lands are truly vital for our Community. Going forward, we must have good communication, planning and excellent dialogue with all involved. Growth is needed to be sustainable. We will have to be 100% sure, that, all other options are exhausted before using ALR Lands for expansion.

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