By Trevor Busch
Former teacher Dale Tilleman wants to improve green spaces and sports fields in the community as a major plank of his by-election campaign for Town of Taber Council.
“There’s two things, I guess probably the green areas, the sport fields. And also I was concerned about the provincial government wanting to try to run political parties locally, those two things were probably the two biggest things that kind of caused me to want to become involved.”
Tilleman has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree and taught school for more than three decades.
“Of course, you can have all the degrees behind you (but) it’s the person up front,” said Tilleman. “And so I taught for 34 years and I worked for Alberta Amateur Baseball Council, the provincial sport baseball organization, for six years.”
People in the community are concerned about the quality of care in local parks and recreation spaces, reports Tilleman.
“As I visit with people, there’s about three things that have come up, one of them being the roads. Of course, that’s a common one. Some have talked about the trees, they want the trees to be pruned, and some want more. There’s also been a few people talk about the quality of the water.”
Some citizens are less than impressed with the recent imposition of a provincial appointee on the Taber Municipal Police Commission.
“There are some that aren’t crazy about the appointment of a police commission member,” said Tilleman. “There are some people that are concerned about that.”
In Tilleman’s view, Taber is starting to fall behind other similar communities in the region in terms of the town’s aesthetics.
“I think it’s time for Taber first, I kind of think sometimes we don’t look at the potential that we have. I’ll be honest, I was in Coaldale Saturday, I looked down their Main Street. And we’re quite a ways behind aesthetically than what it is. But not just that. There’s other things where I think we kind of should strive a little bit more to be number one.”
Reviewing some examples of past fiscal decisions of council concerns Tilleman, who feels the municipality needs to act more wisely.
“We have to be responsible and careful with our dollars. I come from an educational background, and for the last five to 10 years, we had something called the pillars of accountability. And in that you go ahead, you address the issues where your organization is possibly short. So what steps you’re going to take to realize you’re going to get there and how will you know when you get there? So I don’t know if we’re doing quite as much of that as we could.”
Tilleman also sees problems with development initiatives in the community, and what message it is sending to local business owners and contractors.
“I also saw something where they talked about bringing in modular homes. First off, I think if we’re going to do that, and if that’s a need here…but bringing stuff that’s been built outside of Taber into Taber. I mean, what kind of a message do we send to the contractors in town here, and also the hardware store? First off, we want to make it economical, but we want to make something we’re proud of. And we want to put it in an area where we can use a little bit of urban renewal.”
Focusing on the present conduct of town council, Tilleman would like to see more open discussion of critical issues rather than closed session.
“The only thing I really have a big beef with and the only thing I noticed (is) they seem to go in camera a lot,” said Tilleman. “I mean, they’re elected officials, and they should be responsible for the positions. Somebody’s got to question some of the things. As I understand it, there’s some categories where you absolutely (have to). But there’s some other things that they discuss that are questionable. I really think that we need to be a little bit more open on that one.”
Tilleman reminded residents of the economic spin-offs for local business involved in hosting sports tournaments and events in Taber, and sees care for these green spaces and facilities more as an investment for the community rather than a liability.
“I think you look for those things, to try to encourage your minor sports to do it as much as you can, because there will be a spin off, it’ll be economic, it will be better for the community.”
Caring for a community’s appearance is tied to how others perceive it, says Tilleman, and that can mean implications in a wide variety of areas.
“I don’t think you want any areas of your town to decay. And you know, there’s different things as far as urban renewal, even as much as enhancing the streetlights or taking care of your parks. They all make a difference as far as people’s perception on the town.”
The Town of Taber by-election is on Sept. 7.