Council candidates had the opportunity to share their vision of Campbellton at the latest all-candidates forum.
Campbellton First, a group looking for improvements to the northern end of the city, hosted the candidates last Thursday evening for a one-hour meeting at the Eagles Hall. All candidates were asked the same question – what are your priorities for Campbell River and how does Campbellton fit in? – and had two minutes to answer.
The 15 councillor candidates (councillors Claire Moglove and Andy Adams were absent from the meeting due to prior commitments) went first.
Unfortunately due to space constraints, we can’t fit everything all the candidates said but inside this edition of the Mirror you can find information on every candidate.
Brian Le Pas, the first to speak, said if elected he will create a portfolio titled ‘Campbellton’ and the councillor assigned to that portfolio would spend 50 per cent of his or her time on council working to improve the area.
Coun. Mary Storry said if elected she would lobby the Minister of Transportation for improvements to the Campbellton area, specifically signage. She said she would also encourage her fellow councillors to work towards policies that would benefit Campbellton.
“I wish I could promise to fix it all, but the problem is timing,” Storry said. “We have financial challenges ahead and I can’t make promises I can’t keep.”
Larry Samson agreed the city’s financial position makes it difficult to focus on beautification.
“We need to first increase the tax base, until that happens we can only do minimal improvements in Campbellton,” said Samson who suggested the city could maintain the sidewalks, plant shrubs and trees and work towards burying the power lines along Highway 19A.
Darryn Striga said helping Campbellton is what’s right for the community as a whole and said improvements in that area are “long overdue.”
Striga said it’s the proper gateway into Campbell River and as such, it needs to look the part.
“It’s the beating heart of Campbell River that soldiers on,” Striga said. “Campbellton asks for attention, while doing so much for the city, and I’m happy to oblige.”
Sterling Campbell said if elected to council he would have Communities in Bloom look at improving Campbellton and erect ‘Welcome to Campbell River’ signs at the entrances to Campbellton.
“I will commit to working with stake holders to make serious improvements to Campbellton,” Campbell said.
Sean Smith said he believes Campbellton is the best place for development but it needs to be cleaned up.
“People coming in are not seeing what they see in Willow Point,” Smith said. “Let’s bring Campbellton back (to what it was).”
Councillor candidates Jim Bifano, Patricia Gagnon, Ron Kerr, Peter Klobucar, Ryan Mennie, David Minato, Jason Price, Nehemiah Sloat and Mark Sullivan also said they support improving Campbellton.
The four mayoral candidates – Roy Grant, Walter Jakeway, Michel Rabu and Ziggy Stewart spoke next.
Walter Jakeway, the first to speak, said Campbellton can change its direction by electing a new council.
“In 2012 and beyond we can begin to focus on an energetic future, with a clear direction,” Jakeway said. Jakeway said under his leadership, portions of the city that have felt ignored or short changed in the past will no longer have that feeling.
“With some simple creativity, Campbell River can stand out as an awesome place to live,” Jakeway said. “Don’t let the opportunity slip away. Together we can get Campbell River working again.”
Michel Rabu said his vision for Campbell River is simple – to stimulate the economy by bringing in new industry.
Rabu’s other priorities are to ensure Campbell River gets the new hospital it has been promised by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and to create a welcoming, friendly atmosphere at City Hall.
Rabu said Campbellton will factor in to his vision of Campbell River.
“I promise…to make sure Campbellton is brought up to where it should be,” Rabu said. “If you want change, vote for Michel Rabu.”
Coun. Roy Grant used the first half of his speaking time to clear up some misconceptions from previous candidate forums. He said staffing levels at City Hall are down this year, at 193 employees compared to 191 in 2009. He said although it had been reported that the minimum wage of senior management at City Hall was $100,000 per year, the actual figure is $62,000 per year.
“Listen to common sense,” Grant told the crowded Eagles Hall. Grant said, if elected, he will be committed to assisting Campbellton residents and businesses in enhancing the neighbourhood.
Coun. Ziggy Stewart, the last to speak, said he is committed to working with families to find solutions to the problems they face by increasing job opportunities in Campbell River.
Stewart said an increase in business means an increase in the tax base, which translates to more opportunities to improve Campbellton.
“I have the experience and the passion to be your mayor,” Stewart said. “On Nov. 19 vote Ziggy Stewart for mayor.”
The municipal election takes place this Saturday.