Chris Fisher and Julie Ann Bertram are a couple living in West Nipissing and both have put their names on this municipal ballot. Fisher is running for a second term on council and Bertram is vying for a seat on the Near North District School Board.
The two live in Field, where they are raising their three kids and run Fishers’ Paradise along the Sturgeon River. They also host the annual River & Sky festival in July, which draws thousands of visitors to the area each year.
Currently, Fisher represents Ward 5 in West Nipissing and has volunteered as a firefighter at Station 4 in Field for 10 years. This council term has been a rocky road, but Fisher believes “the toxicity of council, due to deadlocks and acrimony, is in the past,” he noted in a recent news release.
“Next term will be a fresh start,” he said, “where Council can finally advance a new collective vision, bring forth beneficial ideas, and not delay with hours of discussions about wording of policies, interpretations of procedures, constant IC complaints, and threats to the municipal corporation.”
He plans to focus on health care accessibility in the region, more support for seniors, education, the environment, social issues, and economic development. “I understand that there is an opioid crisis” he noted, “and I support harm reduction programs.”
“I also know there is a housing crisis that needs to be addressed via planning and economic development. Connecting with the people most affected by these issues and meeting with groups and advocates working to support them is critical.”
Bertram has volunteered with The Field Regional Economic Development Committee, the Field Recreation Committee, and other local community groups. Her goal is to be elected as a trustee with the school board, to ensure “the basic rights of all children to learn in inclusive, accessible, and diverse environments.”
“West Nipissing has not been represented on the Near North District School Board for too many years,” Betram noted in the release. “I also will have an immediate awareness of what’s happening in our English public schools as my children currently attend two schools within the district and as a member of the Northern Secondary School Advisory Council.”
“We are one of the most bilingual places in Canada,” she said of the community, and “students should have an option of French immersion or at minimum extra French language options.” The disruption to students’ education during the pandemic also “took a toll,” Bertram noted, and some students “now need access to mental health support in their schools.”
Increasing those supports is a priority for Bertram, as is increasing academic support and tutoring. She also plans to improve the online learning platform. Bertram has outlined more of her vision on her Facebook page, Near North District School Board Trustee—Elect Julie Ann Bertram.
Chris Fisher has more details about his platform at www.wnward5.ca.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.