Chris Stockton was born and raised in Airdrie, left the city in 1999 when he went to university and returned home in 2019.
The educator, arts administrator and theatre director says he is running for office because he brings a perspective that has deep roots in knowing and respecting Airdrie’s past and can help make Airdrie more than a bedroom community to Calgary.
- Why are you running for office?
Having had the opportunity to work for the City of Airdrie the last two years, I have seen first-hand the positives and negatives of a city that has grown so quickly over the last number of years. I believe that I can bring creativity, innovation and new ways of approaching the challenges we are going to face in the coming years. If we have learned anything through the rapid growth of our community and even COVID-19, it’s that we need to be able to shift our thinking, adapt responsibly, and not find ourselves depending on the strategies and planning that worked 10, 20, 30 years ago.
- How will you help to make Airdrie a better place to live, work and play?
Over the last number of years, the strong residential development has been a key contributor to young families making Airdrie their home, but I believe we need to assess and implement ways to not just live in Airdrie but ways to thrive here. This means looking at everything from how many recreation centres we have to where new Canadians can receive assistance. Evaluating and improving community wellness will be one of my priorities if elected.
- What is the most important issue in this election and how do you plan to address it?
Obviously, recovering from COVID-19 and the impact it has had on our citizens and small businesses is key in the short term. Beyond that we need to find ways to bring people back together again. As we grow larger it’s more difficult to naturally bring people of diverse backgrounds together to celebrate, collaborate, or create and that is why I believe this is a key issue for the upcoming election. A small-town feeling can exist in a city of any size if the opportunities exist for people to feel invited, included and a part of something bigger, together.
- How do you plan to be transparent and accountable to your constituents?
I believe the first step in this is listening. As a first term councillor, I know there will be a lot to learn and I want to listen to the concerns, questions and ideas that our citizens have for Airdrie both today and in the future. I want to be someone that people feel they can approach any time, whether to just say hello or ask about an issue from the last council meeting. We may not always agree but I will always do my best to explain the “why” around the decisions that we as a council will be faced to make.
- Why should residents vote for you?
Airdrie is home – it’s where I grew up, it’s where I’ve come back to and it’s where I plan to stay for a long time. I can sympathize with the issues facing seniors because I hear about them from the village of people who helped raise me. I can understand the concerns of new parents, because I am one. I can empathize with the struggles of small businesses because I’ve worked for some of them. I can encourage the need for supporting our youth with places and programs to be self-expressive and engaged because I lived that. Finally, I can identify with the weight of an uncertain future in the midst of a pandemic and I want to help.
We asked our readers/followers on social media what they wanted to know from City of Airdrie candidates and came up with three questions.
The answers for each candidate will be listed here and posted to airdrielife‘s social media channels on Sept 22 (question 1), Sept 29 (questions 2) and Oct 6 (question 3).
Editor’s Note: The answers below are completely unedited and appear here exactly as they were sent to airdrielife via email.
1. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action published 94 “calls to action” urging all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal — to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation. Which of the Calls to Action do you believe the City of Airdrie council should focus on?
Over the last couple of years, both as part of Professional Development and in my personal life, I have had the chance to listen and learn from both Indigenous Elders and young people in relation to Truth and Reconciliation. These sessions not only opened my eyes to the realities of the past, but also helped me empathize with the pain that still lives on today. This is why I believe we can make the choice to provide inservice to all employees of the City of Airdrie on Truth and Reconciliation. Second, I believe that it is critical that we build and repair relationships by preserving and honouring Indigenous historical sites in and around Airdrie. By doing this we not only acknowledge what has come before but we also create ways to learn, start conversation and add richness to our history.
2. How would you work to improve arts and culture infrastructure and opportunities in the city if you were elected?
Arts and culture are my passion! From a young age I was singing, acting and performing everywhere from choir at church to music festivals in Olds and Calgary. Expanding arts and culture infrastructure and opportunities will be one of my top priorities as your new Councillor. With the exception of the Bert Church Theatre lobby expansion in 2014, the last major investment in Arts and Culture infrastructure was when the theatre was built over 35 years ago in partnership with Rocky View Schools. It’s time to reinvest. I have lived in communities such as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, and watched performances in places like Fort Saskatchewan and St. Albert – communities very similar in size to Airdrie – that have made investments into both infrastructure and programming to grow arts and culture. We have thriving band programs in the high schools, incredibly successful dance studios, stage managers who have grown up in Airdrie and ended up Off-Broadway and rising talent such as Brandon Lorenzo – so why aren’t we creating an environment where creativity can not only survive but thrive. I get excited just thinking about the impact that nurturing creative talent in our city could have not only on Airdrie but on the world.
3. What is you vision to help progress Airdrie’s economic growth over the next 10 years?
The first hurdle is stabilizing the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on everyone – both individuals and small businesses. This might take longer than we had initially planned but we can get there. Once we are past that, my vision for economic growth is to identify and nurture the projects, circumstances and opportunities that have the greatest amount of “ripple effect” on the largest number of businesses. Whether this is through tourism, arts and culture, sport or gatherings such as conventions, creating the environment where opportunities for economic growth like this can occur will benefit everyone from restaurants to gas stations and boutique shops to farmer’s markets. We have to start looking at our economy as collaborative and more interdependent than ever before to all find the greatest success.