It was Campbellton’s night on Tuesday.
The Campbellton Neighbourhood Association hosted all three mayoral candidates – Andy Adams, current mayor Walter Jakeway, and Steve Wood – and wanted some answers.
The Campbellton group, made up of Campbellton residents and business owners, has five different projects it would like to see come to fruition within the next four years. They are: Main Street improvements, adding an entrance sign, establishing a transit hub, creating access to the river, and growing a community garden.
Andy Adams, who was selected by random draw to speak first, said all five projects have merit and would be a positive addition to the community.
He said council, however, also has to balance that with other community service requests and council needs to be mindful of the impact to the taxpayer.
Adams said a community garden should be the easiest of the five projects.
“The city can provide the land but the building of the community garden has to be driven by the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association in partnership with the businesses and residents,” Adams said.
He said improving access to the river is in line with his vision of enhancing access to waterways.
“The city can assist in cleaning up and repairing road ends that it has access to and can also provide lighting,” said Adams who added that it would be in council’s best interest to pursue external funding for improvements such as viewing platforms. Adams said securing grants from senior levels of government would also be the best avenue for funding a Campbellton entrance feature such as an historic float plane structure.
As for the transit hub, Adams said in walking the neighbourhood, the place that makes the most sense to him is where the city just closed the sani-dump on 17th Avenue.
“It has great access to Tamarac, it has the most infrastructure in place – sewer, water and lighting – and would be the least capital cost,” Adams said.
The main street improvements will likely prove the most challenging of the five projects, Adams said, as the street is operated and maintained by the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. He said improvements can be done, but they likely would need to be done in consultation with the province.
Mayor Walter Jakeway, the next to speak, assured Tuesday’s audience that all of the projects can be done.
“My view is the five projects are all fine and over the next four years, the majority can all be completed,” Jakeway said. “They’re actually not very expensive.”
Jakeway said he also has other Campbellton improvements in mind.
“Just as important is the upgrading of Campbellton by elimination of open ditches, cleaning out the lanes and roadways by cutting vegetation back to the lot lines, installation of adequate street lighting, and beginning to separate commercial and residential areas,” Jakeway said.
Jakeway said it’s time Campbellton gets the attention it deserves.
“Campbellton and North Campbell River have been virtually ignored for the last few decades,” Jakeway said. “This election provides the chance to change that situation. Don’t accept the excuse that there is no budget item for that. It’s council’s job to make sure there is an item and the money. Listen to what the candidates say tonight and during the election, then hold the elected representatives accountable. This time around, make city hall work for you.”
Steve Wood, the final mayoral candidate to speak, said he attended the Oct. 22 meeting with Vancouver Island University students’ urban planning team that is studying ways to improve Campbellton.
“What an incredible presentation and great work,” Wood said. “I’ll listen to and act on (those) recommendations, having been here and hearing that great work.”
Wood said if he had to prioritize the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association’s five projects (which is what the association asked the candidates to do in their speeches), he said the entrance sign would be number one. The main street project would be number two, followed by the transit hub, rescue the river project and community garden.
Wood, who served two terms as city councillor between 1993-1999, said he plans to conduct a city-wide organizational review at the earliest opportunity to find out what is available in terms of funding.
“It hasn’t been done in 20 years and I cannot answer for previous councils why they have not done it,” Wood said.
He also committed to working cohesively with all council members, city staff, and local businesses.
Wood said he will work to achieve a zero tax hike in the second year of budget deliberations if possible.