The candidates for city council made one more pitch to the voters on Monday at the Tidemark Theatre as the Campbell River Mirror hosted what is expected to be the final all-candidates of the municipal election.
Candidates Claire Moglove and Daniel Franklin expressed their regrets that they could not attend, but the other seven of the nine candidates for council, as well as acclaimed mayor Andy Adams, were in attendance.
Mirror Editor Alistair Taylor opened the night by welcoming the candidates and public to the event, as well as laying out the format of the evening so everyone would know what to expect. The Mirror had called for questions from the public in the weeks leading up to the event, which formed the basis for the topics the candidates would be expected to address.
Questions ranged from how the candidates feel the community can continue to sustain and increase tourism in our region to their ideas on what the city’s role can be in solving the homelessness problem to their stance on the current municipal tax rate.
But one of the most interesting discussions of the night was around the possibility of a new drag racing track being built out at the airport, which was also the first question of the night.
While no candidate came out opposed to the proposed motor sports facility, some were certainly more committed to the idea than others.
Kermit Dahl, for example, is fully in favour.
“Those who know me already know that I run a drag car,” Dahl says. “And for those of you who didn’t know, now you know.” Dahl says that the Vancouver Island Motor Sports Association – the proponent of the project – has done its due diligence and is more than happy to do even more in order to get this project done, including proper consultation with anyone affected by the proposal.
Marlene Wright is also in favour, although she says that there is “certainly compliance that needs to be made,” such as the proper noise and environmental assessments being done, “but I do believe it could make a lot of economic difference in our city.”
Allan Buxton came out in favour, as well.
“From my point of view, this would do nothing but good things for our community as long as they meet the requirements that have been set out by the city,” Buxton says.
But Michele Babchuk, Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans and Ron Kerr all said they are reserving their judgment until it comes before council at a public hearing.
“I’ve been very happy with this process as it’s moved along until now,” Babchuk says, “but I still believe that there’s a level of engagement that we have to undertake with the community and with our First Nations partners. I’m not prepared to give a yes or no answer at this particular point. I still need to figure out if this is the best move for our community.”
Cornfield says he needs to reserve judgment because he doesn’t want to be seen as having made up his mind before things like changing zoning and making Official Community Plan considerations.
“When those things happen, it’s very important that we have an open mind…and have not made a decision ahead of time,” Cornfield says. “It’s up to council to keep an open mind and to evaluate what’s told to us during the public hearings and make a decision based on all the information at that time.”
Evans says she will do the same, and let everyone know that the project is expected to come before council officially later this fall and encouraged them to bring their opinions – both for or against – forward at that time so they can be heard and considered.
The Mirror will have a series of articles on the candidates’ responses to other questions fielded Monday night online at campbellrivermirror.com over the days leading up to the election on Saturday, as well as in Friday’s print edition.
The entire forum was also streamed live on Facebook that night, and will remain up on our Facebook page at facebook.com/campbellrivermirror