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Faro mayor faces challengers

Heather Campbell is seeking a second term as Faro's mayor because she wants to be a part of the "sense of momentum" in the community right now. But she's facing competition.

Heather Campbell is seeking a second term as Faro’s mayor because she wants to be a part of the “sense of momentum” in the community right now.

But she’s facing competition. Councillor Diana Rogerson and Brian Ross are both running for mayor.

Seven people, meanwhile, are running for the four council seats, including current councillors Michel Dupont and Harold Boehm.

Councillor Mickey Fisher’s resignation came close enough to the election that a byelection wasn’t called.

Debbie Carreau, Heather Grantham, Adam Miller, Mel Smith and Helen Wagantall are all seeking council spots.

More young families have moved to Faro in the past few years, said Campbell.

“There seems to be more activity,” she said. New construction projects underway include a residence for the local priest and a new duplex for a future RCMP member. The detachment only has two members.

A new post office will also be built, she said.

But despite the growth happening, Faro still operates in the shadow of the mining bust. Some candidates want the municipality to have a greater voice in the ongoing mine-cleanup process.

The Faro mine closed in 1997. In 2003, the federal and territorial governments entered a long-term agreement with affected First Nations to help steer the process.

The town of Faro was built for the mine, but it does not receive the same representation as the affected First Nations do.

That’s unfair, said former city councillor and mayor Mel Smith. There are no First Nation offices in Faro or land claims in the community, he said.

“I am going to attempt to seek a level playing field so the recognition is there for Faro as well as the First Nations people,” said Smith.

He owns the Discovery Store. With his daughter taking on more work at the shop, Smith expects to have more time for municipal politics.

Rogerson is also calling for Faro to play more than an observer role in the mine cleanup. “Faro has never been acknowledged as an affected community,” he said. “We’ve not had an active voice in respect to the mine remediation just in terms of being there and having more awareness of what’s going on.”

The many empty buildings in the community are a reminder of the mine’s impact. They are privately owned. Structural assessments show many of them can still be used, said Rogerson. The community has identified using them as a top priority, but needs to decide what do with them.

The buildings should be filled with people, said council candidate Debbie Carreau. To do that, the city needs to finds ways to grow its economy, she said.

But growth comes with challenges. Faro has a strong sense of community pride. But it has shortcomings. Some of those are too noticeable, said Dupont.

The city needs a social worker and a doctor. The average age of people in Faro is about 53 years old, he said. Services need to reflect the needs of the citizens. “More people in town will not necessarily mean more services,” he said.

He’s content with the city’s population. “I’m not comfortable with bringing in more people,” he said. He does not think a mining company will fill the empty buildings. The community will have to do it, he said.

Smith also has concerns about encouraging too much growth. “I think most people that live here enjoy the peace and quiet,” he said.

Ross, Boehm, Grantham, Miller and Wangantall were not available for interviews before press time.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at