An Okotoks businessperson who has contributed to the community through volunteerism and sitting on committees, now would like to have his voice heard on town council.
“For several years I have sat on a few municipal committees and I feel I would be better heard if I joined the town council,” said Oliver Hallmark, a hairstylist at Blunt Hair Studio.
Hallmark is presently the vice-chair for Okotoks Family Community Support Services and sits on the Age Friendly Community sub-committee, which was formed approximately 10 months ago.
That experience helped lead to his decision to put his name up for consideration on the Oct. 18 ballot.
“Sitting on these committees has provided me insight with how the mechanics of municipal government work,” Hallmark said. “I was actually going to run for council four years ago but when I looked into it, I realized if I joined a committee or two, I would be a better town councillor if I ran in the future.”
He has also watched the town council meetings for the past year in order to gain further insight.
Hallmark’s volunteer efforts are well known in the community.
He was selected the 2021 Heart of Okotoks recipient in the annual Leaders of Tomorrow awards. Recently, he drove down to High River to help out with the Foothills Advocacy in Motion Society’s annual run, an organization he has volunteered with extensively in the past. He has also worked with Baby It’s Cold Outside, Sheep River Health Trust, the Okotoks Food Bank and others.
He sees the ongoing water concern as a major issue in the 2021 election.
“I am in favour of moving forward with the collaboration with Foothills County, like what our current town council’s plan is,” Hallmark said.
As a small business owner, he recognizes some of the issues entrepreneurs face.
“Eliminating red-tape for small businesses,” Hallmark said. “I can notice the troubles a lot of my fellow small business owners have had establishing businesses locally.”
Hallmark added he would like businesses to have a greater voice from council in the future, especially as it goes through and then out of the pandemic.
He said his work on the age-friendly sub-committee has opened his eyes.
“I am starting to realize there are many barriers from becoming Okotoks age-inclusive,” Hallmark said. “I would like to eliminate some of the barriers to create more social and physical participation for our seniors.”
He has also noticed the issues his brother, who is quadriplegic, has when in Okotoks.
“For people with limited mobility accessing the downtown is very limited, especially at trade shows or events,” Hallmark said. “I would love to come up with solutions to create an inclusive Okotoks downtown for people with limited mobilities.”
He added he was excited to hear the news of more affordable housing recently with the Town’s effort with Westwinds Communities.
“We need to continue to bring more affordable housing to Okotoks,” Hallmark said.
He said he can bring a different perspective to council as, while concerned about financial issues, he is looking more so at the social programming side of municipal government.