Elkford has a contender for the next mayor, with 10-year councillor Steve Fairbairn declaring his intention to run for the top job in the district.
“This was a place to have a family, raise kids, and call home,” he said in an interview with The Free Press.
Fairbairn, who moved to the district in 1990 with his wife, said he wants to continue to make Elkford a place where young families want to move and stay. He said that has been an overarching focus of councils for the last two decades.
“And it’s providing a safe community, supporting a safe community, a clean community, a community with things to do for young people.”
He said that means supporting recreational activities, supporting volunteerism, and “enabling young people to create things for young families.”
Economically, he said he wants to support the town’s industry, while expecting industry to support the town in turn. He also has an eye towards economic diversification, so newcomers will have broader work options.
Healthcare, affordable housing, seniors’ care and independence, safe drinking water, climate resilience, and expanded retail options are also part of his intentions, should he secure the office.
He also spoke of planned, ‘slow but steady’ population growth that protects home values, downtown vitalization, the ongoing seniors’ housing project, progress with the bike park, and a ‘very major paving and linear asset repair and rebuild project’.
“This is a good looking community, things are in good shape.”
Fairbairn said he wanted any future council to be opening and welcoming of community input.
“It would be my anticipation that the next council will remain open, and that mayor, council and senior staff will continue to listen to people who come with ideas,” he said, adding that good ideas are good ideas, no matter the source.
Aside from experience as a district councillor, Fairbairn has a background in teaching. He sits on the board of the East Kootenay Community Credit Union (his term closes at the end of the year), is on the board of the Elkford Housing Society, and is an instructor with the the Fernie Adaptive Ski Program. He also worked as a teachers union president in Fernie for six years.
“I feel that I have a very broad base of experience and awareness.”
He said he is “very much aware that local politics is not a party membership game.”
“The things you deal with are absolutely about your neighbours and the community.”
He said their job is to set a tone, and not to micromanage. He also said he is aware of their limits and roles, and has ‘really positive relationships’ with politicians at other levels of government.
“Having put ten years at the council table, and seeing Mayor (Dean) McKerracher retire, I feel I have a bit of a responsibility to take the knowledge I’ve learned and time I’ve spent, and give that back to the community by taking the next step.”
When asked by The Free Press why he initially ran for council, he said “I love this town, always loved this town.”
The reason he got involved, he said, is because the mayor and council were a ‘wonderful’ group who he said were doing good things. It was a forward-thinking and respectful environment, he said, and he wanted to be a part of it.
“I have to credit Mayor McKerracher for sure, in creating that feeling and that philosophy.”
He also spoke about the importance of advocating for and representing the community in the broader world, and said the role of mayor is bigger than just Elkford.
He said he is most proud to have been an active member of the district team.
“It’s about doing the best you can. It’s about being part of a really good team,” he said.
“I love this team, I love the work, I love the people that work across the way in the office, and the job they do, they work so hard.
“This is a nice, happy place. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s keep it safe, let’s keep it welcoming.”
Municipal elections in B.C. are scheduled for October 15.