Eleven out of the twelve candidates for Fort St. John City Hall were present, with only Christopher Clarke absent.
When the debate first commenced, each candidate had two minutes to present their platform. It seemed that for at least the six incumbents, they somewhat echoed each other’s goals, which for the most part included roads and infrastructure, addressing the medical crisis, expanding boundaries, as well as the overall development of the city.
However, when it came to non-incumbents, many candidates instead took the time to explain what they would try changing in City Hall, like Graham McCoubrey, who pointed to what he sees as a strenuous relationship between the city and developers. Another change brought up was from Tamara Wilkinson, who claims there’s a lack of community engagement between the city and residents when it comes to planning and money spent, which she says would be best addressed by utilizing social media and other online platform.
As for the District of Taylor and the Peace River Regional District Electoral Area C, Robert Fraser and James Bergen were each present.
The majority of questions were directed to the Fort St. John candidates, as some of the main issues included the partnership, or lack there of, between the PRRD and the city; plans for boundary expansion and the anticipation of resource development, the on-going health care crisis, and money spent.
One attendee asked, “Council members are talking about the allocation of funds into proper areas. With that being said, do you believe the gravel pit was a good investment? Why? And where did this money come to purchase this pit?”
“The gravel pit purchase was based on the information we had for the shortage with the upcoming projects such as Site C [and] LNG… It was reviewed with the reports, with the studies, with all the surveys that were needed to do to make a fiscal, sound decision on that gravel pit; and that’s what it was based on. It was based on the facts provided in the reports, in the surveys, and the need Fort St. John’s going to have for that gravel or use of in the coming years” Councillor Trevor Bolin responded.
Reports dating back to March of 2013 indicate the money was spent from the Fair Share Fund for a price of $2.924 million before tax.
Twila Soule, an original member of the Concerned Citizens for Health Care movement asked all council candidates, “What your position is on the heath care situation?” “What you can do to assist us?” “And how far you’re willing to go?”
Councillor Dan Davies responded,”One of the things that we do need to work on is students that go into the Northern Medical Health program have a subsidy to attend that, and… there is no requirement that they stay in the north and I really think that’s something that needs to be looked at a little closer.”
Some other means in retaining doctors proposed by Councillor Davies was to focus on attracting the families, accomplished with institutions like the Pomeroy Sports Centre and the proposed indoor family park.
Councillor candidate Karen Mason-Bennett also weighed in by saying, “This is a problem that includes immigration, it includes education; it’s not a short-term band-aide solution… if we’re changing the education system, we’re looking at 7 – 10 years before we see impact on that.”
Mason-Bennett also said, if elected, she would keep the pressure on the province, and cites the struggles of having a voice heard in the northern region as a potential factor in what she alludes to be a sluggish response.
The municipal election is being held on November 15, with early polling slated for November 5 and November 12, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Below is a full audio copy of the entire forum recorded by Moose FM/Energeticcity.ca
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