Jaclyn Dorchak has lived in Airdrie since 2015 and owns a small real estate company. The local businesswoman says she has thought about running for council for years.
“Airdrie is the place where opportunity and desire met,” she says.
She adds that she is running to serve residents by bringing fresh eyes, perspective, knowledge, experience, and questions to the table.
- Why are you running for office?
I believe that Airdrie need a greater diversity of lived experiences on council that better represent its growing population and changing demographics. I also believe that Airdrie needs to figure out what it’s identity will be moving into the future, how it can lead by example and have an impact regionally, provincially and nationally.
- How will you help to make Airdrie a better place to live, work and play?
I think the most important way anyone on City council can make Airdrie a better place to live, work, and play is to be engaged with the community beyond the photo op. To actually listen to the concerns and desires of residents, to be honest in their communication with them, and advocate for them when it comes to the process of getting goals accomplished. Personally, I am all about having the truthful, difficult or uncomfortable conversation, rather than one filled only with platitudes.
- What is the most important issue in this election and how do you plan to address it?
To me, the most important issue in this election is the future identity of Airdrie. How will all of the projects, goals and desires of the City culminate into building an identity, a local economy, a community, that will be able to endure, adapt, and prosper for the up-and-coming generations? We need to become more than just a bedroom community of Calgary, more than just a stop along Highway 2. We need to become a leading municipality in the province with whatever direction Airdrie residents want their city to take.
- How do you plan to be transparent and accountable to your constituents?
With the privilege of a council seat comes the responsibility of hard work, transparency, communication and accountability. Wish lists become reality when candidates that become councillors remain persistent in the pursuit of achieving a goal or idea, on behalf of those that voted for them, including being honest when something is not a viable option, and why.
- Why should residents vote for you?
Airdrie residents should vote for me if they want to see someone who is not the average or typical candidate hold a seat on council. This election is about getting more voices to be heard, whether it is at the polls or in council chambers. Because Airdrie deserves a council candidate that will advocate for them until all options and avenues are exhausted, that will be connected to them and tell the truth throughout the entire process.
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 (question 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?
It is my view, that the City of Airdrie has a responsibility to implement every single one of the TRC Report’s “Calls to Action” that are determined to be within the jurisdiction and/or influence of all levels of government. It would be presumptuous, disrespectful, and contrary to the purpose of the TRC Report to engage in a dialogue that would create a hierarchy of importance for which is/should be, the most important to focus on. While some will naturally take more time, planning, consultation, or funding than others to execute, as each of these calls are addressed, the city should also make the information widely known and accessible to residents.
The calls to action that apply to every level of government and which the City of Airdrie should work toward implementing are numbers: 3, 17, 43, 47, 55, 57, 75, 77, 87, and 88.
Outside of these, there are many others that the city can seek guidance from, incorporate, or help facilitate, to promote reconciliation, awareness, or greater diversity and inclusion within our city. These are numbers: 5, 14, 63, 68, 69, 83, 91, and 92.
2. How would you work to improve arts and culture infrastructure and opportunities in the city if you were elected?
I believe that there are several ways in which the city can support the arts community, the most important being taking the time to have the necessary conversations to find out what the specific needs and concerns are and how the city can assist in addressing them in a practical and meaningful way. I can only offer general ideas that may, or may not, touch on what is truly sought after, the details of which I would invite residents to contact me about if they would like to know more. These ideas can be brought to fruition, or maintained, with donations, investment and opportunity partnerships, Provincial and Federal funding, revenue generating fees, and by hiring an experienced arts community coordinator(s) to help manage and market programs and resources. If Airdrie’s vision for the future is to become an arts and culture hub, or even just a city that strongly supports its arts community, then we must also begin to plan its capital projects accordingly and ensure we have staff that are well versed in coordinating with/for the arts. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but we can take successes from other locations in Canada and abroad, and scale them to fit Airdrie’s current and future needs.
Additional ways the city can support the arts are:
1) Introducing a grant for local arts events, productions, or competitions
2) Creating a scholarship/bursary program for local arts students
3) Facilitating an ‘artist in residence’ program and/or incubator groups, workshops, and camps within current city assets. These could also incorporate the participation of Airdrie businesses and exposure opportunities at local events. Incubator groups and workshops are a powerful way for individual artists to meet, share ideas, create and work together on new projects, provide mentorship to young artists and so much more.
4) Creating an internship program for our art, drama, and music students to work with municipal employees or local organizations that deal with arts events and programs.
5) Developing an artist exchange program where an Airdrie and non-local artist are paired
- This would be another opportunity for the participation of Airdrie businesses, organizations, and schools. Our first visiting artists could be from our sister/twin city Gwacheon, Korea, or our namesake city in North Lanarkshire, Scotland.
6) As our population grows, we may have to address a need for a more independent and greater capacity performance venue than the Bert Church Theatre.
7) Current capital projects can be adapted to include the arts community. The West-side Recreation Centre could include an outdoor stage/amphitheatre venue with larger capacity and capability than Nose Creek Park, which can be utilized in more diverse ways, and ultimately, as another revenue generating option for the city.
8) The new library could include sound-proofed practice rooms, or an in-house equipment/instrument usage program, or even an art gallery/gift shop in which Airdrie and area artists can showcase and sell their work. There would also be the option to look at having a local arts related business as an anchor tenant or seek out tenants that fill market gaps for the arts in Airdrie.
3. What is your vision to help progress Airdrie’s economic growth over the next 10 years?
Ultimately, my vision to help Airdrie in its economic growth over the next ten years would be to ensure that we have a clear direction for what we want this city to become, what is our identity? When we have a concrete idea as to where we want to go, we can align each project, program, investment, or revenue strategy with the identity we aim to curate. Two primary drivers behind identity are creating multi-layered projects and additional revenue streams for the city, as well as advocating for the health and wellbeing of our residents. We are only as strong and prosperous as our most vulnerable. We need to adjust and diversify our approach.
First, how do we create additional revenue streams? Think of it like a feedback loop, we ensure that every project, program, or investment, at its core, is planned with value-added layers that will, or have the potential to, sustainably boost city revenues, offset costs, and support our economy. I have already mentioned a few in relation to our arts community. We not only need to ensure that we have targeted amenities that allow residents to remain close to home and support local, but that we have a vision and identity for Airdrie that can draw non-residents our way and retain our younger generations. Identity is one of my key platform points for these reasons. Do we put an emphasis on athletics and sport tourism? Arts and culture? Alternative energy infrastructure? Innovative senior’s communities? Advanced Healthcare? Do we create a network of satellite schools for post-secondary education? There are many more ideas out there, all of which have the possibility of providing multiple benefits for our city and our economy. We already have the ball rolling in a couple of these areas, let’s keep the momentum going and continue to build on those!
Secondly, when it comes to the health of our residents, there are immediate, tangible actions we can take that will continue to have long term socio-economic benefits: bringing back the blue zone project initiatives; making our outdoor recreation spaces more inclusive by keeping our disabled and senior populations in mind for equipment and accessibility; executing protected bike lanes and a connection to Calgary’s pathway system. Further than that, let’s address AFD and Paramedic deployment and resource concerns. If we don’t have well supported first responders, we don’t survive emergency situations, period. Let’s work on developing a better artery to Didsbury and its hospital, so that our paramedics remain in our region, and we can build partnerships that provide resources and options for residents beyond Calgary. Let’s increase support for the tireless work of the many non-profits that serve the health and wellbeing of Airdronians, choosing to bolster their resources and funding for initiatives they are pursuing such as Jake the trauma dog, Lane’s Room, legal clinics, a hospital, and so much more.
All of this requires a strong council team that is proactive, solution seeking, and future focused. Yes, these things take time, perseverance, and collaboration with other levels of government and private enterprise. Not everything can, or will, happen in the time and manner we want it to. Fundamentally though, every project or program that the city invests in should move us forward, keep us prepared, and allow us to be agile enough to adapt and pivot when circumstances require it. No one factor for prosperity is mutually exclusive, there is overlap and grey area that the city can use to its advantage. At the end of the day, a healthy city is a thriving city, socially, culturally, and economically.