City council candidates (clockwise from back screen) Sandra Milligan, Ferris Stirling, Gwen Donaldson and Doug Chapman participate in the second council all-candidates debate at the Tidemark Theatre on Monday, Sept. 26. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

City council candidates (clockwise from back screen) Sandra Milligan, Ferris Stirling, Gwen Donaldson and Doug Chapman participate in the second council all-candidates debate at the Tidemark Theatre on Monday, Sept. 26. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

CITY COUNCIL: Second of three city councillor debates held

VIDEO: Review the full discussion by the second four of 14 councillor candidates

  • Oct. 6, 2022 3:30 p.m.

After the mayoral candidates took to the Tidemark Theatre stage Monday, Sept. 26, it was the second of the city councillor candidates to have their turn.

After the first debate on Sept. 21, the second group of candidates, Doug Chapman, Sandra Milligan, Gwen Donaldson and Ferris Stirling engaged in a debate. Among other things, the candidates were asked what their top three priorities would be and which would they start with. Their answers are…

Gwen Donaldson…

So, my top three priorities are a pyramid of concerns. So one leads to the other. The first feature challenge facing assets housing, infrastructure and asset management without an appropriate asset management plan. We can’t responsibly build in our community. We really need to make sure that our infrastructure is monitored intact and accounted for so that we can have the appropriate water and sewage resources in our community. When we do build. We need to diversify our housing stock and look at how we can responsibly build our community in a way that suits current and future generations. Building on top of that, we have an HR crisis in our community. This extends into RCMP, municipal government, health care, this is also attached to housing. Many people cannot afford to live here so we don’t have the employees that we need. We also need to look at company culture and making sure that we have the Human Resources working well in the city of Campbell River. And then on top of that is downtown safety. So we need a well informed long term plan and some easy wins. I think there are a lot of easy wins that haven’t been fully investigated in our community. Secondary suites was an easy housing win we should have implemented that 70% of the community did want to see some broad secondary suite bylaws. In terms of downtown activation, public art, business incentives, permissive tax bylaws, sidewalk patios, food trucks, those are all easy wins to activate our downtown core. So I see it as a pyramid. Everything is kind of built on housing and infrastructure. Then we have a human resource crisis. And we have our downtown safety and activation. Those are my top three priorities.

First thing I would start with? Secondary suites. The work is done the bylaw is there. It just needs to be implemented.

Sandra Milligan…

A first my first priority is to set up the team dynamic. We’re gonna have seven voices and we’re not gonna get anywhere if everybody has their top three, and all wants to get their jobs done. So the most important thing is to sit down together collectively not in January, but in October the end of October, early November and do strategic planning, where we get on board right away, all seven for our collective top three priorities. Now of the top priorities that we’ve heard lots of people talk about already in our other two days of debate, I think we have a common vision that no one wants anyone living unhoused downtown. So I think that would be a pretty easy one to get all seven voices together and agree that that’s a common vision and the top priority.To get action towards that vision, a top priority would be to build temporary shelters similar to what’s been done in Duncan very recently in Victoria, and now Port Alberni is on board and those projects have been in place for a few months now and we can learn from them. We need to get people housed right away. The third priority would be to implement a secondary suite bylaw. This is the tool that’s used by most municipalities to provide affordable housing and it’s the best way to increase property taxes and deal with the affordable housing issue.

Ferris Stirling…

My top three priorities here in town would definitely be housing, dealing with the homelessness situation downtown, as well as a lot of issues that we’ve heard about at City Hall. For the housing policy, I think that we need to understand that a lot of what we’re seeing today run by BC housing and Island Health has already been tried in many areas around the world and I’ve looked at these specifically in Chicago, Hawaii and Dallas. These programs that they’re trying to do today have been failing since the 70s and early 80s. I think that we need to look at something a lot different. And we also need to look at utilizing companies more that build a lot of the housing and programs such as those run through the Habitat for Humanity here in town. Those are fantastic programs and I can’t say enough about the health that Habitat for Humanity is given to a lot of low income people here in town. The homeless situation downtown it’s it’s pretty rough and the business owners down there are going to need a lot of our support, especially when they’re going to have to start to repay these CERB loans, the amount of money that they’re gonna have to put towards that is going to be roughly the equivalent of laying off one part time employee for every single business that’s taken over those loans. And so we have to start to create some capacity with our services here in town for potentially what could be coming. The third thing would be a lot of the issues with management at City Hall. We’ve heard from the other debates there about what’s been going on, the turnover issues, a lot of the empty positions that they currently have there, and there’s just not a whole lot of trust with those that are running there. So I would like to implement something along those lines, where we talk about the people who have left our town and figure out why they’re leaving Campbell River first before we make a conclusion.

Doug Chapman…

Well, as mentioned before, we’re going to be thrown right into a budget system. We need a budget for the beginning of the year. The first priority is to make sure our financial planning is sustainable. And when I say sustainable, can you continue doing this year after year after year after year? You can’t take money out of surplus each year and fund taxes it’s not going to last long. To that end, I’ll make sure I do my best, at least, to make sure there’s no large tax increases. People don’t understand the financial plan now there’s approximately almost a 6% increase scheduled for 2020. So when you look at the reality of everything, I think we’re looking more at close to 10-12 per cent and we need to look at the budget carefully and I think the new council will have some very difficult decisions on what programs and which ones should be shifted out and which people are going to work on new projects. I don’t anticipate people being laid off but I think the priorities are going to change and people will be working on different projects. Number two is the land development we need more housing. Currently this the city has over several 100 development permits outstanding some of them date back to 2017. The last item is downtown safety is a complex issue and it’s going to require a lot of study.

To see the rest of the debate, check out the video recording of the second debate:


The first city councillor debate

The third city councillor debate

The mayoral candidates debate

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