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Economic development priority for new Bowden council

Luring more businesses to town and retaining those already in Bowden are priorities

BOWDEN — Candidates who were elected or re-elected to council hope to spur more economic growth in town, building on the development that’s occurred over the past few years. 

Robb Stuart, elected for a fourth term, is among those making that pledge. 

Stuart beat challenger Shirley Schultz, garnering 246 votes to Schultz’s 115. 

Among the councillors, incumbent Paul Webb topped the polls with 247 votes.

Also back on are incumbents Wayne Milaney who received 203 votes, Randy Brown, back for a second term with 178 votes and Sandy Gamble with 204 votes. 

Newcomers voted in are Marie Flowers, 176; and Deb Coombes, 167. 

Candidates who didn’t get voted in are Carol Pion who sought a second term, 156; and fellow incumbent Kerry Kelm, 80, who also sought a second term. 

Other candidates who weren’t elected are Lisa Ouellette, 125; Melissa Braun, 111; Samantha Sharpe, 85; Donnalee Nickerson, 82; and Penny De Nevers, 36. 

When asked what he’d like to accomplish in this four-year term, Stuart said, “things haven’t changed much. Financial accountability, trying not to raise taxes, attract businesses.” 

This will be Webb’s third term on Bowden town council and his sixth one overall, having served three terms on Sundre town council. 

Webb said he serves on council because “it’s almost in my DNA.” 

“This is how I like to give back to my community and I’ve been very, very happy with the progress that we’ve made, particularly in the last term, but over the last two terms, and I want to see that momentum continue,” he said. 

That development includes new businesses along Highway 2 and downtown as well as the announcement of the new pea processing plant in the town’s southwest area. 

Webb has a concept he wants to promote to encourage more traffic — and thus more business — downtown. 

"This is an initiative that’s just in my mind at this point. But we’re going to have literally thousands of vehicles pulling off Highway 2 on to Heritage Drive to go to Tim’s and A&W and to get fuel and to get whatever they need to do,” he said. 

“I’d like to come up with an initiative that says ‘just turn right.’ So instead of just going straight through and back on to Highway 2, tell them to come downtown Bowden.  

Webb was surprised -- and pleased to top the polls for councillors. 

"It’s good to be elected,” he said. “You always have to keep perspective. I was fortunate in that I got to meet with several people that maybe other candidates didn’t get a chance to do. 

“And you know, it’s like, in university, Cs get degrees. In municipal politics, if you’re running for council, you’ve just got to finish in the top six. So I appreciate the immense support from the voters – a lot – and I’m glad to be returned to council.” 

Milaney also expressed a desire to build on the economic development that has already taken place in Bowden over the past few years. 

However, he has other priorities too.  

"We need to do some upgrades to our rink and we need to do some upgrades to our playgrounds for our children,” he said. 

He’d also like to ensure that sewer and water systems as well as streets, sidewalks and gutters in the town are kept in shape and safe for residents.  

Upkeep of the cemetery is another priority for Milaney. 

“I think my pet project is the cemetery because that’s my next condo,” he said jokingly. “I'm a realist and I know where my next move is.” 

One key factor in his re-election was doing lots of advertising, he said. 

Milaney was pleased to see Gamble returned to council. She got just one more vote than he did. 

"That was sweet,” he said. "She’s one of my dear friends and we both wished each other well." 

“I have three daughters, so of course, girls rule. So she beat me,” he added with a laugh.  

Luring more businesses to town and retaining those already in Bowden are priorities for Brown. 

“Obviously I think with that growth in the commercial side of it hopefully that will allow us to also to continue to maintain the amenities that we have and our taxes low,” he said. 

“Tough row to hoe there when you’ve got a lot of residential and not a lot of commercial. Then the brunt of the taxes is on the residents.” 

Brown was a member of the town’s Economic Development Committee in the last term, along with Webb and Pion.  

He hopes to be on that committee again. 

Coombes is excited to have been elected to council. 

“I’m looking forward to sustaining our economic growth, encouraging young families to move to our community,” she said. 

Coombes would also like to find a way to encourage young people to help older residents understand and utilize new technology. 

She has worked as a nurse for more than 42 years. 

“I’m gearing down in my career so I’ve got the time to devote myself to the town,” she said.   

During her career, Coombes got the chance to take on a leadership role. 

As a result, she said, "I understand policies and there’s guidelines that you have to stay within. They have taught me a lot, like on my leadership skills and conflict resolution and bylaws and policies.” 

Flowers and Schultz could not be reached for comment by press time.   

Doug Collie

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