Council candidates talk Games
Council candidates got a chance to expound on their platforms Tuesday night to about 250 voters during the Chamber of Commerce political forum at the CNC atrium.
The forum was divided into two sections, beginning with the mayoral candidates. When their discussions were finished, council candidates took their seats and addressed the prewritten questions they selected at random from a basket.
Scot Affleck said he expects Canada Winter Games’ overruns in spite of incumbent mayor Dan Rogers pointing out no city that has hosted the Games has lost money so far.
“It’s a done deal, and we’re going to have to work with it, but I bet my lunch there will be overruns.”
Garth Frizzell said he sees no reason why the Games cannot be tied in with another major local celebration, the 100th anniversary of the city.
“We have to see it as an economic driver and an opportunity for our sports. We have an opportunity to be the centre of success for things like Nordic skiing, and we have to be effective with our liaison with the Canada Winter Games Society,” he said.
Jordan Gadsby sees the Games as a chance for the city to shine.
“The Canada Winter Games is an excellent opportunity. We need to be the best we can. It’s a legacy for the city and we need to be the most welcoming city visitors have ever been to,” he said.
“It will focus national media on this community,” agreed Cameron Stolz. “The rest of the country doesn’t know what we have here.”
Harry Ulch hoped the legacy of the Games would include many more sports venues for the city after the games. He was also concerned about the financial aspect of the Games.
“I really hope we wind up with a black bank account,” he said.
Taxation was another issue councillors were asked to speak to.
Brad Gagnon said, when it comes to distributing taxation fairly, city residents need to be consulted.
“We need to ask the taxpayers. It’s not something council can debate in-camera. We really have to ask the taxpayers.”
“The biggest thing we can do is listen to the people who pay the taxes,” agreed Brian Skakun.
Myrt Turner said a major review of how taxes are being spent needs to be undertaken and efficiencies need to be found.
Lyn Hall said looking at the tax base needs to be a priority, something the new council should look at immediately, ensuring that discussion is part of the first 120-day plan.
Pay-per-use to help lower the tax burden is something that may help to a degree, Dr. Albert Koehler said.
“There are other solutions, like looking for efficiencies,” he said.
He added looking at attrition and retirements is another possibility to cost cutting and said all positions that come open may not have to be filled immediately.
There is no easy answer to providing the same service without tax increases, Dave Wilbur said.
“But we need to get back to basics, to the core of where we are going to spend our money.”
Increasing the population will also help to lower taxes, which means attracting people to the city.
“We need to make the city attractive, make it a place where business is thriving,” Murry Krause said, then added people are attracted to places where the social aspect of a population is cared for.
“We need to make sure economic development goes hand-in-hand with social development and have a reputation as a community who cares.”
Several questions put to candidates spoke to complex issues, and John Beebe said he didn’t know the answers to all of them.
“But I will listen to you. I’m not an expert on everything but I know how to find the right people to get the right answers from.”
The next all-candidates forum is Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Ramada and is hosted by the Prince George Construction Association.