What’s in a name?

My high school English teacher often said, of all the subjects taught, throughout my life, I’d come to rely on Shakespeare the most. I thought she was just trying to make herself seem indispensible, but she was right because “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

When amalgamation talks began in earnest in 2018 after the Town of Black Diamond annexed some land so the borders between BD and TV finally kissed, meaning we could amalgamate if we chose, I was scared – scared a shared future would somehow have us forgetting our history and our pasts. I remember sitting in the basement of the Black Diamond Town Office (aka. Council Chambers), listening to the amalgamation discussion of 13 other councillors. I did voice my concern. I was, and maybe still am, concerned our people would be very upset about this perceived loss of identity.

But, we don’t lose our identity when we marry. We don’t forget the past when we form new friendships. We build, we grow, we create new stories, memories and identities. This is what I wish for all of us – a shared history, because it’s not as if Turner Valley hasn’t been part of Black Diamond’s history and visa versa; it’s been shared all along.

Heading into the unknown, into the combined future of our two towns, I’m excited to see how we will celebrate this union. This amalgamation is the first of its kind and that in itself is something to celebrate. Most amalgamations are a larger and stronger municipality taking over a smaller and probably failing one. That’s not us. We are both healthy organizations that have made the choice to come together. So, let’s celebrate our community that’s been tied together from the beginning.

How do you see us celebrating? A party, community murals, in song, a play, a book? It’s all possible, we just need you to help make it happen.

The council years

It’s been an eye-opening and challenging few years on Black Diamond Council. It’s not something I will ever regret doing – putting my name forward in 2017 and being elected has been, by and large, a wonderful experience. Now, trying to relay all I’ve done over the past five years in an easy to read post is the trick.

Here are some of the highlights:

Sustainable Black Diamond Advisory Committee – I was with this group for two years. The committee wanted to increase youth participation with the town, so we partnered with Oilfields High School and welcomed a youth member. We also started supporting the sustainability efforts the students were working on and the school’s garden and outdoor classroom grew from there. I am still involved with student-led projects and am happy to say the relationship between the Town of Black Diamond and Oilfields High School is stronger than ever.

Community Futures Highwood – I had the amazing fortune to join the CFH board in 2017. This organization is tasked with lending money to local and regional entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses. This is a federally funded program, but it is managed at the regional level. I am now the chairperson at CFH and the board just approved a full restructuring of how they operate. The mandate remains the same, but we have made the board a more manageable size (down from 18 to 9). This will allow for better future planning and delivery of services from CFH.

Amalgamation – this was a complicated and complex task. Looking back, this topic took up the bulk of my time on council. It was no easy decision, but I stand by my vote to amalgamate. What finally helped me decide was looking to the future and imagining what our community would be like if we did not amalgamate. I didn’t feel the status quo was good enough so I said yes.

Intermunicipal Economic Development Committee – this committee was created to build name recognition for Turner Valley and Black Diamond and to promote business retention and new business development within our community. I am proud of the the way this group formed. Amalgamation talks were in full swing and I viewed the IEDC as a training ground for how the two towns could work together towards a common goal. This committee has grown from the original 10 members to 12 people; four councillors and eight members at large, all business leaders within the region.

Foothills Tourism Association – my work with FTA is not part of my council duties, but it does play a huge part in what I believe is the future of our region. The FTA encourages tourism from Bragg Creek to Nanton and Kananaskis to Okotoks/High River. By bolstering tourism we create a visitor economy where all businesses, tourism facing or not, can flourish. The Foothills Tourism Association works with municipal and provincial support. We want visitors to see our region as we do and of course support our businesses while they enjoy this incredible place.

It was a full five years. I managed to keep within my interests and talents when it came to committees of council. I hope to continue being part of these initiatives in the future whether I am on council or not.

Diamond Valley election – 2022

Hello everyone, I am Veronica Kloiber and I am running for council of the newly minted Town of Diamond Valley. I have been on Black Diamond Council since 2017 and told myself and voters I would run for two terms. The amalgamation changed things a bit, so now I get to participate in three elections, not just two.

My husband and I have called Black Diamond home since 2009. We moved here to be closer to extended family and raise our son in a small town. Our boy is now a teenager and we look back fondly on the fantastic childhood memories that were made possible by living in this beautiful place.

When I was first elected in 2017, my goals were to improve communication, transparency and infrastructure (specifically water and sewer). There is still much work to be done on those points. I voted in favour of amalgamation. I see the benefits outweighing the short-term challenges of merging two towns and look forward to doing away with the duplication of work.

I am a strong supporter of business retention and economic development. Prior to my time on council, I was a volunteer member on Black Diamond’s Economic Development Committee. As a councillor I sit on the Intermunicipal Economic Development Committee, a partnership with the Town of Turner Valley. I am the chairperson of the Community Futures Highwood board, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to economic growth and business development.

Since June of 2020, I have had the good fortune to work with the Foothills Tourism Association in promoting this region. Not only have I had the opportunity to meet Black Diamond business owners but business owners throughout the Foothills. I see the tourism industry as a valuable asset to our town and our region and I will continue to promote a visitor economy and regenerative tourism.

Being a member of a municipal council means sharing the work and the successes. I cannot say I’ve accomplished anything on my own, but some things I’ve had a hand in are as follows:

  • Increasing youth participation by volunteering with the students of Oilfields High School through their work on sustainability projects
  • Supporting existing and new businesses through Community Futures Highwood
  • Bolstering tourism and economic development through the Foothills Tourism Association by bringing visitors to the region
  • Opposing mining exploration and mining development on our Eastern Slopes
  • Worked to ensure fairness from municipal government through utility rates and billing
  • Pushed for more expedient infrastructure improvements
  • Fought to ensure responsible development and secure future availability of water
  • Spent time looking at the Land Use Bylaw to ensure a fair and equitable development approval process
  • Encouraged new faces on council in the 2021 election 

This region is and has been a wonderful place for me and my family to call home. It has given us an affordable house, friendly neighbours, community spirit, and free time for me to get out on horseback and explore the nearby trails. I hope you will allow me the opportunity to be your voice on the new Diamond Valley Council.

You can reach me at mzzandry@gmail.com or by phone/text at 403-921-2811.