Fernie has another contender for mayor, with Nic Milligan announcing his intention to run for the top job at the October 15 election.
Milligan most recently worked as manager for social responsibility with Teck Coal, having retired from the mining industry in mid-2020.
“The community has been great to me, and I really do want to give back and contribute to the health and well-being and future of Fernie,” he said in an interview with The Free Press.
Milligan first moved to the Elk Valley with his parents in 1970, when his father got a job working in mine reclamation at Elkview.
While Milligan is retired now, he followed in the footsteps of his father and worked in the mining industry for almost 25 years, climbing the ladder from mine labourer, all the way up to manager of social responsibility.
He said that his experience with Teck, and in the various roles he held, gave him the credentials needed to take the helm in municipal government.
“I think that with my history with the community, my history with the mining industry and leadership roles within that industry positions me well to both engage with the citizens of the community, but also the staff and administration of the City of Fernie, and hopefully lead them in a way that supports an effective, open and engaged community government.”
Milligan has been actively involved with the community since he retired, and currently sits on the board of the Elk River Alliance (ERA), the Fernie and District Historical Society, and the College of the Rockies.
He raised his two children in Fernie with his wife, and said that he understood the lived experience of locals. He said that the first plank of his platform would be openness and engagement, saying he wanted to lead a local government “that really considers the lived experience of the citizens of town, so that it can contribute in positive ways to that experience.”
“I’d like to lead a local government that is open and engaged with the citizens of the community, and all the community groups that make this such a great place to live.”
Another focus would be a need to dig into the city’s infrastructure issues.
“Wastewater treatment for example feels like its hanging on by a thread, and needs to be addressed immediately. Without addressing that, how can we in good conscience add affordable housing if the infrastructure wont support it?”
Overall, Milligan said the five main points of his platform would be engagement, infrastructure, affordable housing, climate resilience, and continued improvement of the city’s internal processes to support the community.
Milligan said he wanted to build on what had been done by the incumbent council in getting improvements in motion. “Their leadership and choices in terms of staff surfaced a lot of things like the infrastructure issue. They set some things in motion that I think are important.”
Typically, someone considering a run for mayor would first secure a term on council to get a handle on local government, but Milligan said he believed he was ready.
“I’d like to make real change starting now.”
Social media and anger towards local government around Canada and locally has been an issue, and Milligan said that he saw that, and wanted to engage.
“I’m hoping to actually engage with the people of the community so they have a recourse other than social media, so if they have an issue they can come to council and staff, and they can hear it and respond.
“Social media often is the bastion of people who don’t feel they have a voice elsewhere. What I think everybody should guard against – be it social media or face to face – is the disrespectful discourse that has surfaced in the last few years.”
The 2022 municipal elections will take place on October 15, with all local governments holding elections for mayor, and councillors in the province.
Milligan will be running against incumbent Fernie Mayor, Ange Qualizza, who declared her intention to seek a second term last week.
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