On Oct. 10, all five of Chilliwack's mayoral candidates participated in an all-candidates Q-and-A meeting at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. (Darren McDonald)

Chilliwack’s next four years

Enthusiasim was high in the recent municipal election. Let's keep the participation going

As the dust settles on a tumultuous municipal campaign, the real work begins.

The challenges that faced city council and the Chilliwack School Board before the election remain.

But hopefully some of the distractions are gone.

Chilliwack city council was given a clear mandate to press on with initiatives it has already begun: downtown redevelopment, action on homelessness, infrastructure improvements, and a reinvigorated commitment to enhanced public safety.

That agenda is of course tempered by the fiscal conservatism that has characterized this city for so many years. While there is a desire for progress, it will be done responsibly.

The next four years will be interesting. Although the real estate market has cooled, Chilliwack remains an attractive and affordable place to live.

It is also seen as a good place to do business, evidenced by the recent relocations of AdvanTec Global Innovations, Molson Coors, Lustre Products and other manufacturing companies.

This is important not only because of the jobs these industries create, but also the overall boost they provide the local economy.

A key part in this continued growth will be the partnerships formed with local First Nations. Land is scarce and we have an opportunity to work together to bring further economic development that will benefit everyone.

Growth, of course, brings its own challenges. And that will be something the new school board will face. Not only is it dealing with expanded enrolment, it is planning for the addition of at least one, if not two, new schools.

What won’t be an issue is the SOGI 123 resource. A majority of trustees on the board support the resource, as did a telling 68 per cent of the electorate.

With that distraction gone, trustees can focus on issues like overcrowding, student achievement, parent involvement, and ensuring an adequate number of qualified staff are in place to teach our next generation of leaders.

It will be an exciting four years, but they don’t have to be watched from the sidelines. There are opportunities to stay involved: volunteer on a city council committee, join a Parent Advisory Council, or simply stay informed and in touch with elected representatives.

Chilliwack enjoyed a strong voter turnout this election.

Let’s keep that enthusiasm going.

~ Greg Knill, Chillilwack Progress

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