Your Council

Mayor and Council
From left to right: Councillor Jen Comer, Councillor Karen Unruh, Councillor Jim Elford, Mayor Ron Toyota, Councillor Arnold DeBoon, Councillor Ellen Tzakis, Councillor Joanna Wilson. 
RCMP: Staff Sgt. Ryan Currie, Cpl. Gerry Sliworsky
Photo Credit: Warren Bruns

Town of Creston Council 2018-2022

Mayor Ron Toyota

Ron ToyotaMayor Toyota, is currently serving his fourth term as Mayor of Creston.  His previous leadership roles were Chairman of the Board of Governors of the College of The Rockies in Cranbrook with campuses in Creston, Golden, Fernie, Invermere and Kimberley. President of the Creston Valley Rotary Club, President of the Creston Valley Regional Airport Society, President of the Cranbrook Golf Club and President of the United Way of Cranbrook.

Ron and his wife, Judy were married in 1969 and they have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. They enjoy living at their home on Kootenay Lake and both like golfing and curling in the Creston Valley.

Councillor Jen Comer

Jen ComerCouncillor Comer, who is currently serving her second term on Council, moved to the Creston Valley in 2010. Since that time Jen has worn a number of “hats” in the community, providing her with a well-rounded understanding of the issues facing the area. Jen is currently the Manager of Morris Flowers & Garden Centre, on behalf of Lower Kootenay Band. From 2010 until 2018, Jen also ran the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, where her team was honoured with the 2016 award for “Best Medium Sized Market in B.C.” That same year, Jen was nominated as one of the “Top 40 under 40” in Kootenay Business Magazine, and was awarded the “Market Manager of the Year.”

Jen was born and raised in Nelson BC, however, following the completion of their bachelor degrees at the University of Victoria, Jen and her husband chose Creston as their home. Jen focused her studies on sustainable community development, with local food systems being a key area of interest. Jen notes that the Creston Valley has been a great place to put down roots, both professionally and personally. Her family loves the endless camping and hiking the area has to offer. During the summer of 2019, she was able to check a big “bucket list” hike off the list by completing the five-day, 65-kilometre historic Earl Grey Pass trail between Argenta and Invermere.

When asked Jen noted that she has “had the immense honor of serving this community as a member of Town Council” and that she hopes to “see our community continue progressing the way it has over the past decade!”

Councillor Arnold DeBoon

Arnold DeBoon

Councillor DeBoon, who is currently serving his first term on Council, transferred to Creston with his family in 1990 and for 23 years served the Creston area as a Conservation Officer. Arnie noted that he was fortunate to be promoted during his time here without having to transfer to a new community or area, and that he retired as a Sergeant, in charge of field operations for the entire West Kootenay region.

Arnie has always had an interest in community, and has served as the Chair of the Creston Trinity Housing Society for more than 18 years and on the Board of Directors for the Valley Community Services Board since 2014. In the past, Arnie also served as President of the Society of BC Conservation Officers. In the fall of 2018, Arnie was elected to Creston Town Council and is pleased to represent our community at many meetings and functions.

Arnie's wife, Wendy, is a retired Community nurse. They fill their time with camping and related outdoor pursuits, traveling, scouring the hills for huckleberries, and providing community service. Their two sons, Steve and Matt, grew up in Creston. Steve now lives in Calgary employed by the Alberta Energy Regulator as part of a team that monitors carbon emissions from the oil industry, fighting climate change. Matt and his wife Jessica returned to Creston in 2015, where Matt teaches grade six/seven at Erickson Elementary School, and Jessica teaches at Canyon-Lister School. They are parents to little Oliver, currently Arnie and Wendy’s one and only grandchild.

Councillor Jim Elford

Jim Elford

Councillor Elford, who is currently serving his second term on Council, came to Creston 40 years ago with his family to become a partner in a local Insurance Brokerage. Prior to moving to Creston Jim was a Chief Underwriter with an International Insurance Company. After over 30 years with Herchmer Insurance, Jim sold the company and retired in 2010. While in business, Jim served on the Boards and Advisory Boards for 4 national and multinational companies.

A volunteer firefighter for 21 years, and an Auxiliary RCMP Constable for 10 years, Jim was honoured with the Citizen of the Year award in 1997. Jim also served on the Boards of Minor Hockey, the Creston Golf Club and Creston Thunder Hockey Club. He enjoyed playing old timers’ hockey and in 1993 Jim Chaired the Creston Valley Restructure Study.

Jim and his wife Teresa have been married for 47 years and have 3 children, and 4 grandchildren. Besides enjoying their family, Jim and Teresa enjoy their time at the lake, golfing and boating.  They have visited 17 countries and enjoyed those travels.

Councillor Ellen Tzakis

Ellen TzakisCouncillor Tzakis, who is currently serving her first term on Council, moved to the Creston/Wynndel area with her family in 1964. Ellen’s grandparents were founding pioneers of the community of Wynndel in the late 1920’s and instilled a sense of community and volunteerism in the next three generations of her family. In 1977, Ellen competed in the Miss Creston Pageant, winning the title of Miss Congeniality. Following her graduation at Prince Charles Secondary School, Ellen married her husband Tom, in a double ring wedding ceremony with her twin sister Ena and her husband Greg Allen, October 1977. Ellen and Tom later welcomed and raised their two daughters Kayla and Krysten in Creston.

Throughout Ellen’s career, Ellen worked at Dairy Queen, the former Smitty’s Restaurant, the Creston & District Credit Union, Bob Griffith Surveys and the Erickson Packing Shed. Ellen’s passion for her community later brought her to work for Overwaitea / Save On Foods where she has committed the last 30 years of her career. Throughout the years, Ellen has worn many hats and has committed significant time organizing fundraising events for the Children’s Hospital, the Canadian Cancer Society’s - Relay for Life, and various community fundraisers.

In 2008, Ellen was presented with the “Personal Achiever Award” by The Jimmy Pattinson Group, in recognition of Outstanding Performance and Achievement. In their personal time, Ellen and Tom enjoy gardening, looking after their twin granddaughters Frankie and Eva, spending time with family and friends, camping at the lake, and travelling.

When asked, Ellen noted that she is “committed to serve the people of our Creston Valley.”

Councillor Karen Unruh

Karen UnruhCouncillor Unruh, who is currently serving her second term on Council, was born and raised in Creston. After graduation, Karen left the Valley to further her education, in her travels she met and married her husband Ken in 1967. Ken was employed with Finning Tractor and his work took their family to Golden, Vancouver, Nelson and Fort Nelson. Karen and Ken raised two children, who both live in Grande Prairie with their families.

Karen worked as a Practical Nurse in the Vancouver General Hospital Emergency Department in the late 1960’s, which she described as an “eye opening experience in life!” Karen and Ken then moved to Fort Nelson in 1979 where they remained for 30 years.  As their young family grew, Karen was employed by the Fort Nelson School District and became the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent / Secretary Treasurer.  This job gave Karen insight into the political side of decision making as she was able to work closely with the Board of Education.

Karen’s political experience began in 1996, when she was appointed by the Provincial Government to the Fort Nelson Liard Community Health Council. In 1999, Karen was elected as a Councillor for the Town of Fort Nelson and Director for the Northern Rockies Regional District, serving 3 consecutive terms. Karen noted that Fort Nelson had a unique municipal government structure, becoming their own Regional District in 1989, and finally a Regional Municipality in 2008.

Karen retired from politics and returned to Creston in early 2009, to assist her father after her mothers passing. However, in 2014, Karen returned to municipal politics as she wanted to be a part of the positive changes taking place in the community and valley. When asked, Karen noted that she has “worked hard to ensure your voice is heard.”

Councillor Joanna Wilson

Joanna WilsonCouncillor Wilson, who is currently serving her fifth consecutive term on Council, grew up in Creston. Joanna moved at an early age from England to Canada with her parents and little brother, and landed in the Kootenays and graduated from Prince Charles Secondary School in 1965.

Joanna and her husband Alan built their cedar family home in Kuskanook, where they raised their 2 children beside the beautiful Kootenay Lake.  During their 28 years in Kuskanook, Joanna and Alan became involved in the cultural life of both Creston and the East Shore. Their interests included the new Prince Charles Theatre and the Creston Public Library.

As a pianist, Joanna taught piano in Crawford Bay, Wynndel and Creston, often playing for local musicals, services, and vocalists. Always interested in the arts, Joanna, co-founded the Creston Art Walk in 1995, and Art Drive in 2000. In 2004, Joanna became a proud homeowner in Creston, living just half a block from Town Hall!

Joanna’s proximity to our local government office inspired her to enter the local political arena, and Joanna won her first Council seat in 2005. Today, Joanna enjoys her 5 grandchildren, and spends her leisure time establishing and nurturing an English rose garden in tribute to her British heritage.