Transparency and communication with residents remain the backbone of councillor Marni Fedeyko’s platform in her run for re-election on Cochrane town council.
Fedeyko moved to Cochrane 10 years ago and began volunteering, eventually becoming the co-chair for Cochrane Light up, a position she held for five years. She was also a reporter with CochraneNow for five years, covering council meetings as their only reporter at the time.
“I would go to council meetings and listen, but there was always such a huge disconnect between what was discussed in council chambers and with administration versus what town people actually knew,” she said.
Fedeyko said she found that the lack of transparency and communication from council was leading to a lot of frustration from Cochranites which would become an important focus of her platform in her first run for council and remains a critical aspect of her campaign for the upcoming municipal election Oct. 18
Her first motion on town council four years ago was to start live streaming council meetings, an action that all councillors supported.
“Thank God they did [support it] because at that time we had no idea about COVID,” she said. “I don’t know where that would have put us if we weren’t able to live stream, that’s the only transparency that we have right now. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always lead to a positive dialogue with people that want to shoot you down or don’t like the decisions, but at the end of the day, we felt people will be less frustrated with us, if they actually have an understanding. They may not like the decision but at least they’re gonna know what the decision was.”
Fedeyko said she views her role as a councillor as going above and beyond to make sure residents feel heard, not just through council meetings. Many have come to count on her for her willingness to respond to concerns expressed through Facebook messages, comments, emails and through various other forms of communication.
“I don’t plan on changing who I am or what I bring to the table when it comes to helping residents,” she said. “That’s my number one thing. Residents are the people that vote me in. They’re the voice that I listen to and so that’s not going to change.”
Looking ahead at the next four years, Fedeyko said that the next council needs to focus on planning for Cochrane’s inevitable future growth.
According to Statistics Canada, Cochrane’s population has seen an increase of 29.5 per cent in the last five years and is the fourth fastest-growing municipality in the province.
“We’ve got educational concerns and we’ve got to look at how we can better support our local businesses,” she said. “I sit on a citizen action group for EMS because obviously we know there is an EMS shortage as well.”
Fedeyko said she realizes that many of these decisions go above the heads of council members, requiring the support of the provincial government to make real change. It is still in the hands of councillors to advocate for Cochrane though, she said.
“We need to become a bigger voice to the province and push on the province to get some of these resources in our community,” she said. “Cochrane is going to continue to grow. Now is our time to build the resources that we need for that growing community. We can’t just sit idly back and wait for things; we have to start putting things in motion now.”