Incumbent Mayor Ivan Brooker continues to send the message of the importance of steady growth during the final week of his re-election campaign.

Brooker says he's concerned that some candidates are talking about slowing, if not halting, growth and completing infrastructure first. As good as it sounds, he says in reality it's more costly for residents and is detrimental to continuing to attract businesses to the community.

"If we put the infrastructure in first you'd have no alternative but to debenture the entire project which would mean you would have to pay huge tax increases all through the debenture because development won't come until later on," he explains. "Eventually you'd probably get your money back, but in the interim all of your existing residents are the ones footing the bill versus the developers when they come on stream."

"So you allow development to occur as you're working on the asset. As the bills come in the off-site levies are being charged, so the town's never out money. It's the developer that pays for the project right to the very end."

He points to the example of the new bridge across the Bow River. Seventy-seven per cent of that cost is being bourne by off-site levies and the town will be paying 23 per cent.

The town did take an $8 million debenture for the new bridge and connecting roads, but that was more about hedging the interest rate market, he explains, to help keep down project costs.

The challenge of keeping pace with growth isn't unique to Cochrane.

"It's the same formula right across the province. It's not us who picks the number for development. Calgary only now is getting their ring road. How many years did everybody say it was desperately needed? Until the province and the developers build out and you have enough money in the bank you can't build the infrastructure."

The other challenge is trying to continue to attract new businesses to town. 

"If you aren't growing as a community you cannot attract businesses. Businesses only come to a community where they see consistent growth.  So if we slow down growth on the residential side, you're never going to attract the business community. In order to attract the businesses you still have to have consistent growth, you don't want highs or lows."

He would like to see the town grow at a steady 4 or 5 per cent to continue to attract businesses while maintaining a constant flow of off-site levies to cover project costs.

"Personally I'm pushing for more business development, especially south in the Southbow Landing area. I think that entirely makes sense."

He says there is a demand for light industrial land right now, and interest has been expressed for both the Greystone commercial development and the Southbow industrial park. That's good news for Cochrane because it means business opportunities, employment opportunities and a better tax base.

Something is in the works for the old town hall site, too, he said. Madlee Development Ltd. is ready to present their proposal to the town and are looking to start development in the spring. There was not enough time to go through the process before counci ended its term so they are waiting until the election is over.

"I don't know what it looks like, they didn't share that with me, but they said they're ready go," says Brooker.

By being able to attract new businesses to Cochrane there's the potentially of higher paying jobs right here. For the most part, people have to leave the community for those opportunities. He points to the example of Garmin and how finding them a suitable home in Cochrane was so important.

"I absolutely worked my butt off to work with the developer and with Garmin to make sure we got a site acceptable for them because I didn't want them to leave town. And they are one of those companies that has really good paying jobs. They want to double their work force and they wanted to build a building that would expand to a third floor in the future, meaning they want to triple their work force in the future. So you want to accommodate them and do whatever you can to help them stay in town because they want to be here."

From the onset of the election buzz he's been listening to the concerns and ideas of individuals and organizations. He's also been attending several schools to speak with students about the election, but he also does so in non-election years.

"I love to go to the classes. Talking to the kids is one of the highlights of my job."

He says the plight of the fire department was greatly exaggerated by one town council candidate and says a plan is in place that would start to see manpower increase if the 2018 budget proposal is approved.

"We're not in a dire situation like that one individual lead people to believe. The fire chief has a very good operational plan. We are within all of our times within the Town of Cochrane. According to the chief we are not expected to have any concerns in the near future."

"The intention is to have five man crew and eventually grow it to a six man crew, allowing for two trucks to attend bigger calls."

He says he has been in discussion with library CAO Jeri Maitland about expanding the library and they are looking at where it can be accommodated.

"We're having a conversation about all opportunities. So if there was a notion of a cultural hub in the next few years then she would like to explore that. If not, she'd like to explore the piece of land beside it. Bottomline is we're looking at options but we haven't nailed anything down yet."

He said he has been chatting with the proponents of establishing a women's emergency shelter in the community and says they are currently seeking the municipality's support for the project at this point.

"They have a few different ideas and options that they've already been presented but they want to start their fundraising and get everybody excited about it and then as an organization start talking about what options might take sense."

Between campaigning he's been kept busy fulfilling his duties as mayor.

"I'm trying to balance off door hangers and visiting with people as well as doing my job. Thankfully I have volunteers; I couldn't get it done without them."

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