Forum highlights seniors

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Touted as a job interview for council and mayoral candidates, Seniors on the Bow hosted its all-candidates forum Tuesday night with the aim of putting the candidates through the ringer.

Staged in four parts, the forum asked candidates their thoughts on fiscal management, social services and the candidates’ future vision of Cochrane.

While many of the answers were rehashes of much of what has been seen at previous forums and in the media, the issue of what to do with the rodeo ground lands, especially in consideration with a new seniors centre, demonstrated an evolution of thought.

Previously, candidates and incumbents focused on the desire to ensure the rodeo ground lands are preserved, which seems to be the popular public opinion.

Tuesday night, some candidates diverged from that train of thought and eluded to the possibility of other options for the land.

Council candidate Bella Fallis kicked off the change in direction citing that the Rodeo Grounds are only used six days out of the year and there could be a use for the land to aid a growing and under-served senior population.

Fallis suggested the Rodeo Grounds could be moved to Heritage Hills, where it might be better utilized and the current location could be used for affordable housing and a centralized centre for Seniors on the Bow.

Mayor Ivan Brooker stayed his course saying the fate of the Rodeo Grounds is not fixed and added deciding the location of a new senior centre should be up to the seniors.

Mayoral candidate Jeff Genung reiterated his position that the rodeo ground lands should become a cultural hub in town and include a new seniors centre, adding the current state of seniors’ services is further evidence the people of Cochrane have been steamrolled by growth.

Cochrane senior Stu Bradley, a proponent of the Southbow Landing development, agreed with Fallis and stated a vision for a major cultural hub and business centre.

“Put together the legion, SOTB and conceivably the Lions Club. Wouldn’t that be exciting, ” he said, adding the rodeo grounds are sitting on $9 million worth of land that is being under utilized.

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About Author

Chris Puglia

Chris is a SAIT-trained journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He began his career in central Alberta working in Olds and Carstairs. After four years at Newspapers in Alberta, he headed north to Yellowknife and spent 12 years working in both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In 2014, he returned to Alberta and began working for Great West Newspapers at the St. Albert Gazette before taking the editorial helm of the Cochrane Eagle in 2016. Chris welcomes feedback from the public - good or bad - and encourages readers to contact him with concerns or story ideas.