Morinville – Long-time resident Carrie Foss has entered the race to be the next mayor of Morinvile. Foss, who has lived in the community for 14 years and spent seven of those years serving separately as Chamber and Lions Club president. She joins Deputy Mayor Lisa Holmes and Shotgun Sally’s proprietor Christa Naughton in vying for the mayoral seat.
Foss was initially going to run as councillor, but all but one of the people she talked to told her she should run for mayor. “I think a lot of it has to do with past experience in the community,” Foss said. “I was the Chamber president for four years and really fought tooth and nail for a lot of the businesses for a lot of the things that were going on.
As Chamber president from 2000 to 2004, Foss fought for the businesses in the industrial park that were then opposed to the South Glens development. Foss said businesses could not understand why the town would put a residential development in their backyard so far from the rest of the community. “Anyone that had a vested interest in the industrial park was saying why not make that [area] industrial and make the housing where the housing is,” she said.
The candidate said she has come to be known in the community as someone who is in it for the long haul through her four years with the Chamber and three years as Lions president. “You can’t affect change overnight,” Foss said. “It doesn’t matter what you are doing. If you are in and out, you are not making a difference. You might be making a small difference but not enough of a difference to make a big difference. With me, if it is going to take four years to fight a battle, it is going to take four years.”
She is hoping spending four years as mayor would allow her to make a difference in the community in a number of areas. “One of the big things that people are really fighting about or upset with Council over is the photo radar. That in and of itself is an issue.” Foss said, adding the affordability of the Morinville Community Cultural Centre for young couples getting married has been a concern to some she has spoken with. “I talked to some people yesterday. They grew up here. They went through their entire educational process here. They bought a house here. They got engaged here. They can’t get married here because they can’t afford it,” she said, adding rental rates and lack of accommodations drove them out of town. “They’re having their wedding in Westlock. That’s an issue. There isn’t a facility they felt comfortable having people stay at. They wanted people to camp. They can’t have campers there [at the cultural centre]. They couldn’t have their wedding in Morinville. They’re upset about that.”
More value for tax dollars
Foss said the same couple told her they are likely to leave the community once they have children because they feel there is nothing for children to do in the community beyond the splash park.
“Those I think are key issues,” Foss said. “I think people really want to see some recreational infrastructure in the community. We are paying high taxes. For what we are paying, a lot of people aren’t reaping the benefits of what they are paying for.”
Foss said Morinville should give serious consideration to what the Town is offering its residents for its tax dollars. “We are in the growth zone, whether we like it or not. That’s where we are sitting at,” Foss said.
Foss said while there is nothing than can be done to curb the growth of the community, there is no reason the community cannot expand while maintaining the small town attributes that drew so many residents here over the past decade.
“Most people I know that moved to Morinville moved here because it is a small town. They didn’t want to be in a city. They didn’t want to be in St. Albert. They didn’t want to be in Edmonton. They wanted to be in a small town,” Foss said. “They’re feeling the Town is changing, the attitude of people in the Town is changing from that small town mentality to a big city mentality.”
Foss said she believes Council and Administration are behind the drive to make Morinville something it isn’t, a situation that is creating frustration among many she has spoken with, people who see a lack of management with a vested interest in the community.”
“I think the leadership is pushing for us to become a city or pushing for us to have that mentality,” Foss said. “They want us to be a bedroom community. The people that moved here wanted to move to a town. They didn’t want to move to a bedroom community and have to drive to St. Albert to get a pair of pantyhose. People want to see more business, more recreational facilities, and they want to have the small town atmosphere. We can keep the small town atmosphere. It is in how you present it.”
Foss said it would take a lot of work and a lot of research to maintain that balance of growing community and small town attitude, but it will also take a healthy dose of leading by example.
“If you keep the friendly, open small town attitude toward everyone, it sticks,” Foss said, adding she feels Morinville is losing that feeling on a number of fronts. “Administration. Most of the management in this town does not live in this town. So what vested interest do they have after 4:30 [p.m.] on a Friday night? None. So they can have whatever attitude they want. It doesn’t matter. They’re not going to suffer through the consequences. They take heir money and leave.”
But administration is not alone in Foss’ belief of a changing attitude in the community. Foss said Morinville’s late Mayor Paul Krauskopf as well as Councillors Sheldon Fingler and Gordon Boddez represent a great love of Morinville and the small town attitude; however, she believes such is not the case throughout Council.
Skills to the table
Foss’ experience with the Chamber, Lions and a number of other non profit organizations and clubs has given her varied experiences, including a firm understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order, the bible by which meetings, including Council meetings, are run.
Beyond knowing the procedural rules of chairing a meeting, Foss believes her communication skills and occasional tendency to be domineering are assets, the latter being of particular value should Morinville need to stand up to bigger communities on the Capital Region Board or the province itself.
“That’s where we’re really floundering – the Capital Region Board,” she said. “We are part of it. That board is so vital to this community. If we don’t have someone that is going to back the community on that board, we’re going to suffer for it. We need someone that’s willing to say, “I don’t care whether you want it. This is what my community wants.’”
Foss said she believes the stronger the leader is, the stronger the organization will be.