BARRHEAD-Amanda Lambert said the decision to run for County of Barrhead Division 4 (Thunder Lake) councillor is not one she made overnight.
It is one that she has been mulling over for two to three years, before finally pulling the trigger about three weeks ago.
Currently, Bill Lane represents the division. Lane has not publicly stated if he will run again. As of June 28, he has not filed his nomination papers. Candidates have until Sept. 20 to file for the Oct. 18 municipal election.
"It's not that I believe the county is poorly managed It is not, but I do feel we need a fresh outlook or perspective," she said, noting that the majority of councillors have been on council for multiple terms. "People can also get complacent if they been at something for too long ... Sometimes it is nice to have someone new in that is a little more eager and energetic."
She also noted that the timing was right, as her two children had graduated.
Although she born in Barrhead, Lambert grew up in Wandering River, a small community of about 500 people about 100 kilometres north of Athabasca. By the time she settled down, she had moved to the Gibbons area.
In 2007, Lambert's family, including her husband and two children, moved to the County of Barrhead and Thunder Lake.
Waiting until her children were school-aged, she re-entered the workforce, first in construction, then in the automotive industry, before eventually moving on to Rose Garden Chapel, starting as a funeral attendant, then moving on to become the office manager. Eventually, she hopes to become a funeral director, which is why she decided to upgrade her education enrolling in the Funeral Service program through a Mount Royal University distance learning program.
"It is a two-year program, so it was very hectic and intensive for a while, working full-time while trying to complete my program and contribute to my family as well," she said, noting she completed the program in 2020.
At the same time, Lambert did her best to be active in the community helping out with school and other charity events.
Probably the most notable was when Lambert, along with Rose Garden Chapel Dwayne Magus, helped head up a committee of local volunteers to save the Pumpkin Walk, an event that gives an alternative to trick or treating, from its death bed after its long-time organizer and sponsor, Pembina West Co-op, had to pull out of its planning due to the opening of its new food store.
Issues facing the municipality and the ward
She understands the county is in a difficult financial position. The province is cutting the amount it gives municipalities for infrastructure decreasing the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant by 25 per cent in the next three years. The county also has to contend with difficulties in collecting tax revenue, specifically from energy sector companies, and increasing costs, such as having to pick up substantially more of its policing costs.
"There will definitely be some difficult choices to make in the future," she said, adding she agrees with council's decision to support the RCMP as the provider of its policing service, noting the additional costs of a provincial police force will be too much for municipalities to bear.
"Mainly my goal is to listen to what residents of the area want and do not want and bring it to council."
So far, since she has announced her candidacy, the issues Thunder Lake residents are bringing to her attention the most are roads and water supply.
"[Extending the water line] to Thunder Lake is something that people would like in the future. They know there will be an expense involved and they don't want it [connection] to be mandatory, but they would like that option," Lambert said.
Surprisingly, she said, she hasn't heard a lot of discussion about the strategic lake plan for all the lakes in the county that council is in the process of completing.
Council decided to create the plan after a tour of the county's municipal public reserve lands in Thunder Lake in the spring of 2019. During the tour, staff documented more than 400 violations of the county's Public Reserves Bylaw.
"My opinion — and I think its shared many of residents here — is to take a wait and see approach," Lambert said.
She then reiterated that her goal, if elected, is to act as the voice for Thunder Lake residents.
"I can be very tenacious when the need arises, but I also know when it is time to back off, which is important when you are dealing with people."