While Cochrane town councillor Tara McFadden is overall proud of the approach she and her colleagues took to their last four years, she says COVID-19 left the term feeling incomplete.
“That’s perhaps what was so hard with this term is that every time you get elected, you’ve got a vision and you’re working with a group of other passionate individuals to make a difference and you’re trying to advance it,” she said.
“One of the things that was tough this term is we really only got about two years of forwarding that before we got into crisis management, essentially, between the recession and COVID.”
In announcing her intention September 10 to run for a fifth term, McFadden described the inner reflection that took place.
“The analysis always comes down to, ‘Do I still have a passion for it?’, ‘Am I still making a difference?’, ‘Do people still value the ideas I bring to the table?’. And as long as I’ve got those three, that I have a passion for it and I feel I’m contributing and people value that contribution, then I certainly do want to continue to step up and serve Cochrane as best as I can.”
Of her colleagues on the current council, McFadden said that while viewpoints often vary she felt they’d maintained a strong working relationship.
“This group has certainly had very diverse opinions and approaches to things, which I think has been really valuable, but also a group that by and large has treated each other with a great deal of respect and respected the role,” she said.
“We’re all there together to try to make a difference, to make Cochrane a better place to be, so that’s been really good.”
“It’s easy to be the dissenting voice, but to actually get things done, to advance a vision or idea, you really need to be able to work with the other councillors around the table.”
McFadden emphasized the expansion of recreation offerings as one of her campaign pillars.
“Recreation is so important to everybody’s sense of community, to our physical and mental well-being, and so that really was one of the things that I noticed as we went through COVID is how important being able to get outside, being able to recreate, being able to play team sports was,” she said.
“That really wasn’t our big focus in my early terms but it’s certainly something that I built into this term, and I really want to make sure that it’s a focus moving ahead.”
The councillor highlighted public engagement as another priority.
“We were doing some really great engagement going out to where the communities are at, pop-up engagement opportunities, and those, of course, during COVID we just couldn’t meet face-to-face so we lost those,” McFadden said.
“I’m looking forward as we move through COVID and hopefully get back to normal during this term that we can continue with those types of engagements.”
McFadden moved to Cochrane in 2004 and was first elected in 2007.
“Like so many other people we moved from the city, we wanted to start a family, we wanted to have a small-town community where we could raise our family and ‘be’,” she said.
“There’s been a lot of amazing things that have changed [since] to make us a more complete community and reducing how much of a suburb we are to Calgary. The rec centre has expanded, the urgent care centre has opened up, we’ve got the new bridge to make it easier to get around, we’ve introduced transit which was a need, we’ve got more businesses that have come to town offering real jobs.”
“Some really concrete steps in becoming a more complete community, but that’s a journey we have to commit to and we have to keep making deliberate choices to achieve.”
Some of the other platform pillars listed at TaraMcFadden.ca include managing growth, improving pathways, boosting roadway access and creating a ‘citizen panel’ for resident input.
“There isn’t a better place in the country to live, and there isn’t a better country to live in, and that’s pretty cool,” McFadden said.
“I’m really looking forward to getting out there. I really enjoy the electoral process: I love getting out and talking to people and sharing ideas about the future, the positive energy that comes into the community when you’re starting to look ahead and talk again about the vision and what can be.”