First-time political candidate Bert Schalekamp is running for a position on the Elkford council this October.
A geologist by trade, Schalekamp and his family moved to Elkford 11 years ago for work.
Schalekamp’s involvement in the community has been through a position on the urban wildlife management advisory committee, and through kids programs for his two children.
“I’m quite passionate about nature and the environment,” he said in an interview with The Free Press.
“I always felt that if you want to make a difference or if you want to contribute, you need to become part of the organization … then you can add value.
“We only choose a new council every four years. It’s not so many opportunities, so when something comes up … I thought about it and decided I’d give it a try.”
He said he and his family had a lot invested in Elkford. “Every town in this valley has a culture or an identity, and I think the Elkford identity is wilderness capital of BC, and I can identify with that. It’s quiet and nature orientated, and I want to keep it that way.”
Schalekamp said he wanted to support efforts by the current council to establish better childcare and senior’s housing in Elkford, and added he wanted to work on supporting more affordable housing options while the community was still ahead in relation to housing prices elsewhere in the valley.
“Our town is still a bit different to Fernie and Sparwood – we’re not quite in the same situation, where house prices are really high and there’s not a lot of housing available. I think there’s still opportunity here, and that’s a big plus for our community.”
Looking ahead to the future and linking back to his interests in the environment, Schalekamp said he believed Elkford needed to start thinking about what was beyond coal mining.
“In our valley we’re very dependent on the mining industry, and we need to start looking beyond mining. What do we need to do to make our community sustainable beyond that?”
He said the community had a lot going for it to help with that transition, being attractive for young families, and having that distinct identity as a wilderness capital.
“I’m passionate about our town. I really want to make sure that it has a bright future.”
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