Teslin’s mayoral race may not be down and dirty, but challenger Rob Gareau is dwelling on garbage.
Gareau, who was unsuccessful in a previous attempt to run for council, wants the village landfill to be better managed.
It’s a mess, he said. And the dump should be open at least five days a week, and definitely on the weekends, he said. It’s currently only open three days a week.
Mayor Clara Jules acknowledges that residents want the landfill to be open longer. She would have to talk with the community and council before making any changes, she said.
Managing the site will have a cost, said Gareau.
“If we’re going to run a recycling business, we take the good with the bad. Get the cardboard to Whitehorse. Get it shipped off to wherever it’s got to go. If it’s got to go, it’s got to go. We can’t pile up 30, 40, 50 bags.”
Jules has been mayor for nine years. Before that she sat on council for 14 years. At the same time, she sat on the council for the Teslin Tlingit Council. She is a member of the crow clan.
Jules has more to do as mayor, she said. But she wouldn’t commit to any promises, other than to say she wants to work with the community to get things done. Just what, she wouldn’t say.
Gareau, Jules’ only challenger, said he wants “to put Teslin on the map.”
With its ski trails, recreation complex that includes an artificial ice rink and a weight room, three museums, First Nation heritage centre, two motels, store, library and churches, it has much to offer, he said.
“For what we have here, I think a lot of the smaller towns would love to have what we have,” said Gareau.
“I see a lot of people drive by, and they never see it,” said Jules, who has lived in the area her whole life.
When people move to Teslin, they usually stay, said Mike Hodgson. He’s a former mayor of Teslin, and one of eight people running for the four council spots. Robin Smarch, Darryl Kremer and Stephen Kremer are seeking re-election. Gord Curran, Tess Gareau, Rob’s wife, Denise Johnston and Brad Stoneman are also running.
But bringing change into Teslin may mean changing the village’s boundaries.
They are “outdated,” said Hodgson.
Teslin has a small tax base and neither mayoral candidate wants to raise taxes. Around 300 people live in the village, which has a large Tlingit population. Residents already pay for water, sewage and garbage pickup.
About 200 people live just outside Teslin’s limits and pay taxes to the territory.
Council has discussed expanding the boundaries for years, said Jules.
Teslin also needs to increase recreation opportunities, said Gareau.
The village is hiring a new recreation director. Without someone in that position, it’s hard to get activities started. The curling rink and skating rink need to be used more, added Gareau.
The centre is the community’s only hall, said Tess Gareau. She’d like to see more people use it, especially since its renovated often, she said. There are user fees – and that may be a reason why some people don’t use the facilities as much, she said.
The village also needs to do a better job enforcing animal bylaws, said Rob Gareau.
Dogs often run loose through town. He thinks this problem should be addressed before someone gets hurt. He would like to see a larger fine for when dogs are picked up.
Dogs aren’t running around like they used to, said Jules. There was a spay and neuter clinic in Teslin earlier this year, and it was a success, she said.
Work has been done on the main streets in Teslin, but more needs to happen, said Gareau. He drives the ambulance.
“Trying to drive on those streets, if you’ve got a patient in the back, it’s not a very nice place to be,” he said.
The village will continue to improve its streets, said Jules.
If elected as mayor, both candidates will do their best to listen to the concerns of the whole community, they said.
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