By Gillian Slade on September 29, 2017.
Giving a voice to those seldom heard and optimistically extolling the advantages of living and working in Medicine Hat, are key points in Colette Smithers’ election platform.
“What I love in particular about Albertans and Medicine Hatters is there’s an entrepreneurial spirit, there’s a spirit of exploration always looking for opportunities and innovation,” said Smithers, who is running for a seat on city council. “Tap into that spirit. What’s wrong with dreaming big?”
Council sets the tone for this, she says.
“I’m extremely practical. I understand what our challenges are but I truly believe there’s always a way,” said Smithers.
In the past she’s been involved in specific issues/causes rather than a specific ideology or political party.
“That’s one thing that really attracts me about municipal politics, the non-partisan approach…” said Smithers.
She favours a direct approach that includes meeting people face to face and to hear concerns and ideas. If elected she will make herself accessible at coffee shops or similar venues to do this on an ongoing basis.
“It is very important to me that the people of Medicine Hat set the agenda,” said Smithers.
The current situation with public transit she finds “troubling.” She says the impact of changes “that were imposed,” rather than being introduced after consultation, hit the youth, students and seniors particularly hard. Smithers would like the focus to be on ways to encourage ridership.
“The financial concerns for me are secondary. We’ve got to understand what the full impact is,” said Smithers.
The idea of a “fair entry” application to get transit service on a weekend, for those who qualify, is a means test that is “dehumanizing,” said Smithers.
“How can we pursue or provide the Medicine Hat advantage by disadvantaging so many of our people?” said Smithers. “We can’t put ourselves in that position.”
A major success for Medicine Hat is that we are “leading the world in ending homelessness,” said Smithers, who personally experienced homelessness at the age of 50 when she was living in Calgary.
“I went through the system for probably a year,” said Smithers. “I spent five months in transitional housing.”
Experiencing the kindness, generosity and support of strangers during that time looms large in her memory.
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