by Lindsay Ducharme
Colleen Tatum says she has a vested interest in ensuring the community thrives on both a social and economic front.
“I’m encouraging people to join me in creating a community that is livable, strong and ours. It’s a team effort. It’s collaborative. Communication is important now, and when a person is elected,” she said.
Tatum should know as she has previously served as a councilor. She says her decision to run in the current election was born out of necessity.
“I felt that the issues we are facing in our community are too important for me to sit out, especially our economy right now. I feel like we must have a small business owner at the table. I am a small business owner and I am raising a family here. I have chosen to raise my kids here and I want to make sure that our community is what I want to see in it, what other families want to see in it.”
“My main three things are we need to create a Wood Buffalo that is livable, strong and ours. Livable would be increasing retail, increasing services. Strong is having a strong economy, having that partnership with industry to address fly in/fly out and the effects it has on our community. Ours is creating a community that reflects the people that live here. We don’t have to be Vancouver, we aren’t going to be, we don’t want to be, we want to be us. We need to communicate together to figure out what that is and move forward towards that together,” she stressed.
Tatum’s platform also outlines the importance of balance. As a lifetime resident of Wood Buffalo, Tatum has experienced just how much the ups and downs of the price of oil can affect the entire community. The current downturn is nothing new for the municipality and Tatum wants to ensure the region is as prepared for the rebound as the next downturn.
“We need to create a stable plan for our municipality to be able to attract and retain families whether oil is $50 a barrel or $100 a barrel. We need to improve access to retail and services. We don’t have enough access to health care services, we don’t have enough access to retail. When you say retail and you don’t live in a northern community it’s hard to explain what that means, it sounds a little bit short sighted or self serving, but retail is so much more than that, when you go to have a birthday party for your child and there’s nothing in the store it makes a huge impact on your life. We need to increase that livable factor,” she explained.
“Pricing is up in the air but we haven’t had a mass exodus from the community, we still have families that are here, we still have needs that need to be met and we still have industry that has a certain requirement of employee level. How can we together create a path forward that will serve our community and serve their needs as well? It also means not spending all the money when oil is really high, and not cutting everything when oil is low. We know we have these ups and downs so maybe we need to be more in the middle and create more of a stable plan. Invest in the community, invest in infrastructure, but let’s keep it in perspective,” she added.
One way Tatum believes both industry and the community could benefit is by eliminating fly in/fly out employees. She believes it will not only reduce costs for industry, but also reduces strains on the community by attracting more permanent residents and more families to the region.
“For me, my first objective is always, what’s the return on investment? Return on investment in a capital situation is how does this serve the community? What is it doing to benefit families? I will filter everything that I do through being livable, strong and ours,” she said.
for more info visit her website at http://colleentatum.ca/