Cochrane Today – Oct 6, 2021 9:00 AM By: Jessica Lee
Tara McFadden said she wants to strengthen Cochrane’s connectivity, improve infrastructure and broaden engagement with residents in her run for re-election on town council.
McFadden, who has served four terms on council, said her passion for community service and creating positive change is what has kept her coming back since she was first elected in 2007.
“As long as I’ve got a passion for the job and feel that I’m able to make a difference, I’m glad to step forward,” she said. “It’s kind of interesting to me to be at the point where I’m the voice of experience, but to bring that experience now, and that perspective, and that commitment to serve the people of Cochrane, it’s all community service and it’s a passion of mine at the end of the day.”
McFadden is an advocate for women and children escaping domestic violence and is a fund development and public relations officer for Big Hill Haven women’s shelter.
McFadden said she has been a part of many decisions that continue to shape the community every day, which have made Cochrane a better place to live.
The Quarry was formerly a polluted 45-acre landscape left abandoned by wood fibre-based product manufacturer Domtar. In 2010 council accepted a proposal from Springwood Developments to clean up and develop the site. It now houses the global tech giant Garmin’s Canadian headquarters among other various job providers.
“We’re attracting more jobs, and more meaningful jobs,” she said. “Having Garmin here is kind of a signature win for the community of Cochrane. It’s such an exciting place to be looking back at the huge strides we’ve made in building a community, if you’ve only moved here in recent years, you may not be aware of the huge progress made.”
McFadden said Cochrane is still behind on some of its health and arts and culture infrastructure, the urgent care centre did not open until 2010. The library has also outgrown itself, she noted.
She points out that the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre opened its recreational facilities during her tenure on council and said she is now a strong advocate for the Horse Creek Sports Park, a project made possible by the Parks and Recreation committee she championed four years ago.
The committee, made up of public members, was also instrumental in the design of Horse Creek Sports Park, a project that includes playgrounds, soccer fields, quad ball diamonds, an outdoor rink, and hiking opportunities.
“The intent of the committee is to make sure that the public has a voice in setting the direction of what’s important for us in our recreation,” McFadden said. “That’s been a real success over the last four years, that group’s done a lot of work for us. They’ve been able to provide a public voice to different policy decisions, they’ve been able to provide direction to help us identify gaps in our trail system and prioritize those in our budgets.”
COVID has slowed a few council-led projects, including McFadden’s proposal to create a Citizen Panel — something she hopes to continue building on if elected to another term.
The goal of the panel, McFadden said, is to gather a representative sample of residents to inform and keep them engaged in community and council happenings.
“That communication can go both ways so that we’re deliberately able to hear from the group on items that are arising, but also as items or issues or projects arise to be able to use them as a different tool of providing informed engagement,” she said. “That’s what really excites me is how can we evolve and grow our local government and try to find a way to empower residents to be as much a part of the decision making as we can.”
McFadden is just as enthusiastic about the public engagement that elections bring and said she is thrilled to see how many candidates are going to be on the ballot with her come Oct. 18.
“I love elections, I love the energy that it brings,” she said. “I love the conversations that get started and I love the fact that there’s 19 people that want to step up and be a part of the solution. That excites me and energizes me and so I’m really glad to see that.”