It is not uncommon to hear the word ‘slate’ used in conjunction with an election. In fact, in the time I have lived in Princeton (I moved here in 1986) I have heard this term come up with each and every municipal election I’ve seen here. A slate is an interesting election tool that happens to be more common than you may think. Before I get into that, let me explain what a slate is.
The Definition of A Slate
The simple definition of a slate is that it is a group of candidates with a common platform that are seeking election in a multi-seat board or council. The similarities in platform can be the result of the candidates all being members of the same political party. The common platform may be from the candidates sharing the same position on issues or some other similarity.
How Common Are Slates In Canadian Municipal Elections?
Actually, this is an interesting question. In Canada, the major federal and provincial political parties do not have municipal equivalents. In other words, you won’t see someone in Princeton seeking election representing a party you would normally associate with a candidate seeking to represent us as our MLA (provincial government) or MP (federal government).
However, several of the larger cities in Canada have municipal political parties. Vancouver and Montreal are two examples where slates are commonplace. It is also in these larger population bases where it is likely beneficial for the candidates on a slate to run together. It means saving on the costs of political advertising for one thing but there are other ‘promises’ in place.
A candidate who joins a slate in a big city municipal election does so with the understanding that he or she will not run against another member of that slate for the same political seat or position. It also means that if elected, the members of the slate would agree to vote together on some or all issues. Slates are also temporary in nature existing primarily during the election campaign only.
Where Are Political Slates Most Effective?
It is not out of the ordinary to see slates used at the student union level. In fact, slates have become so popular and effective in these elections that they are considered a controversial element in Canadian student politics. This is why slates have the interesting distinction of being fully recognized in several student associations or completely banned by others.
The interesting thing to note about slates at the university level is their success rate. In larger student unions where slates are not banned but accepted as part of the election culture, they do well. That is likely due to the fact that in this kind of setting a student slate can take on the elements of a political party which often results in re-election for several terms.
Slates In Princeton Municipal Elections
As recent as late in 2017 I heard talk of a slate of candidates being formed for the upcoming October 2018 Municipal Election. Whether or not that is still in the works is beyond me but, as I’ve already stated, the word has been kicked around as long as I have lived here. However, I do not recall such an election tool actually being used to win seats on Town Council.
Well, one of the reasons why I chose to announce my intentions early going into this election was to show I am running independently. I have no party affiliation nor do I have now, nor do I intend to in the future, have a ‘running mate’ or group of candidates I will be running with. I am completely independent. I intend to run my campaign as an individual and not part of a slate.
I am pointing this out simply because should a slate emerge going into the October 2018 Municipal Election you need to remember one very important thing as a local voter. You can vote for anyone you want. You do not have to vote for a slate. If anything, you should be voting for those candidates you feel will represent you and work well together to get things done.
You will find one similarity between slates and the upcoming local election. That will be the issues. Each candidate will have a list of issues that concern them. Expect most of the candidates to have similar lists. The aquatic centre, KVR, growth within the community and infrastructure improvements will likely be on the minds of all candidates. Your job is to pick the ones you want to work on those matters – and can hopefully achieve many goals by working as a team.
Ah, yes. The historic KVR. It was opened in 1915 and the first section to be abandoned was the Copper Mountain spur line in 1957. The last train to come through this area was in 1989. Most of the former rail line has become part of the Trans-Canada Trail. In Princeton a 5-kilometre stretch cuts through the south section of the community between Highway 3 and the Similkameen River and then runs along the river and Highway 5A up to Weyerhaeuser crossing Old Hedley Road.
The Town of Princeton passed a bylaw a couple years ago banning motorized traffic on the paved section that covers the area I’ve already described. The Princeton Parks and Recreational Strategy that was published in November 2013 describes and examines many walking trails that already exist within the community. It also mentions the KVR frequently pointing out that one of the main issues with the trail is, “User Conflicts: motorized vs. non-motorized.”
The ORV Select Committee
I give the Town of Princeton credit for trying to spearhead some kind of solution to the motorized/non-motorized issue when they requested applications for interested participants to sit on a committee to work out a plan. I sent in a request to be a member of the committee representing the Chamber of Commerce. On November 8, 2016 I was confirmed as a Member and attended my first meeting November 23, 2016.
The terms of reference for the very first meeting stressed that the 5-kilometre stretch of the KVR that passes through town was off the table. That’s correct. The committee is not supposed to acknowledge that a possible solution could come from the existing route. We’ve kept veering ‘round it ever since. Clearly our mandate was to create a bypass route. In my mind, a bypass is an alternate route that takes traffic away from something and not closer to it.
Is There A Solution?
I’m not convinced that the concept of a bypass is going to serve the community in any positive manner. I actually see the whole ‘problem’ as something greater than motorized vs. non-motorized. I view it as an issue between responsible and irresponsible trail users. We live 100-feet away from the KVR on Burton Avenue and have been here for several decades. My home office faces the KVR and the only noises we have ever heard is from dirt bikes.
We have walked the section closest to our home often. I will use it as a ‘shortcut’ to get to downtown. We are non-motorized users. The solution to the situation has nothing to do with a bypass as far as I’m concerned. I feel that the solution is right in front of us and that we need to pool our resources in order to achieve the goal of connecting the trail from the Tunnel to Weyerhaeuser. However, it means all user groups getting together and working together instead of against each other. I know, it sounds a tad impossible but I think it can be done.
Responsible vs. Irresponsible
I have encountered a fair cross section of users when I have been on the KVR. I have met responsible users and irresponsible users. Those who do not clean up after their dogs are irresponsible. Those who rip along the trail on dirt bikes are irresponsible. Those who have driven cars on it are irresponsible. The only ATV users I’ve encountered over the years were courteous and responsible. I can say the same about snowmobilers I have encountered.
I remember two of them several years ago who met me near where the Roundhouse currently sits. They moved over to one side of the trail, shut off their machines, removed their head gear so I could see who they were and they waited for me to walk past. This was long before the section in town was paved or had lights on it. I have encountered friendly horseback riders, cross-country skiers and even users riding mobility scooters avoiding riding on the street.
One paved encounter I had with ATV users happened near where the Caboose currently sits. The ATV drivers were so quiet I wasn’t aware of their presence until one rode alongside me at the same speed I was walking. The only bad encounters I have had are few and far between and fall under the category of irresponsible users. I’ve also had dirt bikers hop off their bikes and walk them past me in the Tunnel as we met each other midway. I think it can be shared by all.
I feel that there are several things that have to take place in order to make the KVR a multi-use trail through the Town of Princeton. I believe that an actual door-to-door survey should be conducted with residents and businesses located along the KVR between the Tunnel and Weyerhaeuser. The survey should also extend to nearby homes and businesses not directly alongside the KVR but within 100 or so feet of it. The survey should also include all user groups and be designed to seek feedback on a motorized or non-motorized trail.
The easy solution from where I am sitting is a twinning of the existing trail through town. It could allow for motorized and non-motorized use with minimal conflict. As my wife Brenda tells me, the railway engineers did not purposely lay track in the most difficult route possible. So, when you consider that they used the path of least resistance, why is there so much resistance to sharing this path? I am not convinced that the problems are all related to ATVers/ORVers. I’m sure that a twinned system will give an opportunity for shared use where everyone gets along.
As for policing the trail is concerned, I put the onus on all user groups including ATV/ORV users to get involved. There should be regular educational programs or seminars on rules and regulations as related to the recent changes in the ORV Act. The local ATV groups should set the example by plating their rigs and outfitting them with the proper gear to make them legal/roadworthy – if they haven’t already done so. They should also establish a working relationship with RCMP and put together some kind of plan that would address highway crossings and ticketing of violators. In fact, ATVers on the KVR could actually become a sort of Citizens on Patrol in the region.
Petitions and data related to how much the BC economy is fed by motorized or non-motorized tourism aside, I think the KVR through Princeton can be shared by all. In fact, it should be shared by all. But in order for this to actually take place, it has to be done responsibly and not as a means to ‘prove something.’ I think the Town of Princeton was right in forming the ORV Select Committee but I think the mandate is incorrect. There are more than enough experts at that table who could easily make the trail a shared transportation corridor. I’m also sure that most of the people sitting at that table with me would agree.
Ultimately the final decision has to come from you. I am a firm believer in community-driven decisions. If the majority of those surveyed say that the KVR should remain non-motorized, then I would support that knowing the people affected the most – users and those living and working in that part of town – had made their thoughts known. I would also support the decision to twin the KVR if that was what the survey results showed. To me, good decisions include feedback from those directly affected by the results that would come from those decisions. It also means that if we all work together instead of against each other, we can make our community better for all.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.