Ron Mickel is seeking another term in RDCK Area F.

UPDATED: Mickel faces challengers

It will be at least a three-person race in Area F of the Regional District of Central Kootenay, as two people have come forward to challenge incumbent Ron Mickel.

Ron Mickel will face at least two challengers for the Area F director’s seat on the Regional District of Central Kootenay board.

Taghum’s Bruce Montgomery and Johnstone Road resident Mike Keegan — who happen to be friends — have both submitted nomination papers.

Montgomery, who has no prior political experience, says he was spurred to run partly as a result of the regional district’s process in finding a new site for the Nelson transfer station.

The decision to relocate next to Pacific Insight angered the company.

“I don’t think it’s been a well thought out plan,” Montgomery says. “I was very disheartened that Insight was upset and wasn’t contacted [in advance].”

Although he says he doesn’t know Insight general manager Stewart Ross well, “he’s done a great job of bringing work to the area which we need badly. I just don’t think someone in that situation should be missed.”

Montgomery says more broadly, he wants to curb spending.

He’s been involved with several local businesses, including Quizno’s, A&W, and the Prestige Marina in Nelson and Chateau Manor seniors home in Trail.

He and fellow contender Keegan met for coffee last week, “but neither one of us mentioned [we were running]. I like Mike. I’ve know him a long time. I think he’d do a good job.”

Keegan was surprised to hear Montgomery was running, and was similarly complimentary: “Bruce is a good friend of mine. Great guy.”

The semi-retired Keegan, 58, was born and raised in Nelson and has lived in the area his whole life. He’s been president of the Nelson Road Kings for seven years and chair of the annual Queen City Cruise for nine years.

He says he’s contemplated running for office before as a way of giving back to the community, and this time has been asked by some residents to let his name stand.

“I thought what the heck, I’ll give it a try. I’m tired of the taxes going up,” he says.  “According to my figures, it’s been like a 40 per cent increase the last three years in Area F. That’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Like Montgomery, Keegan says he wasn’t impressed with the Pacific Insight controversy, describing the way it was handled as “an absolute catastrophe.”

“We basically alienated our largest employer. You can’t treat people like that. It’s just not right.”

Keegan says he wants to hold the line on taxes, seek more public input, and keep decision-making transparent. “I like to think I have a lot of common sense. I see that lacking at the moment.”

Incumbent Mickel is seeking re-election after initially saying he was “99.9 per cent certain” he wouldn’t run again.

In an email to the Star, Mickel said his decision came “after some (a lot) of encouragement from family members and other board members.”

Mickel says the regional district is in the middle of “some intense and delicate” negotiations over the relocation of the Nelson transfer station, and faces a similar situation over moving and developing the Kaslo transfer station.

Mickel chairs the central waste committee, which is responsible for those facilities.

“Over the next three years we will have to look at relocating the Marblehead facility and possibly the Ymir and Salmo facility,” he says. “I feel my continued participation is vital if we are to accomplish a timely and efficient transformation of our solid waste system.”

Mickel is serving his first term as director for Area F, which includes Taghum, Bonnington, and the North Shore.

He retired after many years with the Ministry of Environment and now has a consulting firm. He says his experience will also help as his area embarks on a liquid waste management plan.

Mickel also points to a nearly completed official community plan for his area that calls for the preservation of certain areas.

“First on our list is the acquisition and development of Six Mile beach (parking, signage, toilet facilities),” he says. “Others include Five Mile beach [and] old Taghum bridge.”

Mickel says he is also working on additional parking for the Pulpit Rock trail as well as improved emergency vehicle access to homes at Grohman.

“Finally, I would be particularly pleased to see the end of the vacation rental nightmare some of our residents have been experiencing,” he says. “The nearly completed OCP will apparently give our bylaw enforcement officer the tools needed to address this problem.”

Mickel joins fellow directors Ramona Faust, Hans Cunningham, Andy Shadrack, Walter Popoff, Garry Jackman, Paul Peterson, Gord Zaitsoff, Larry Binks, and John Kettle in seeking re-election.

Josh Smienk has announced he will contest Faust in Area E. Ed McNiven is challenging Kettle in Area B. There is also a race in Area I, where Andy Davidoff will face Larry Walker. John Voykin has held the constituency for over 30 years.

For a complete list of candidates for local office, click here.

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