In a nearly full Evergreen Theatre at Powell River Recreation Complex, 18 aspirants for six City of Powell River councillor seats faced off in an all candidates forum on September 29.
The forum was sponsored by Powell River Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Dan De Vita. Because of the number of candidates and the two-hour time limit for the meeting, only four questions from the floor were accepted.
Candidates were also given the opportunity to present opening and closing statements.
The first question to candidates was: how many of the municipal council meetings had each candidate been to in the past year?
The second question was: this community really prides itself on inclusion. In what ways would the candidate work to ensure the most vulnerable residents in the city thrive?
The third question was: if the candidate is elected councillor, what are they going to do for the citizens of Powell River, and how do they plan to involve citizens in the important decision processes in the next four years?
The fourth question was: what had the candidates done personally toward supporting truth and reconciliation? The second part of the question was: what would they do to continue that support when elected?
The week, the Peak focused on the question that had the closest connection to the jurisdiction of a city councillor, the third question regarding involving residents in the important decision processes.
Robin Murray said he would have a newsletter sent out on a monthly basis, and try to have a little more dialogue with the people. He also advocated for more roundtables and town hall meetings to address issues such as the drug crisis and crime.
Bronwyn Gisborne said communication is important and that town hall meetings are extremely effective. She said councillors need to get information and then create dialogue and find solutions.
Glenn Holstine also advocated for creating dialogue and having all councillors working together.
Cathy Korolek suggested attending committee of the whole meetings, where residents can speak to councillors. She also suggested following the city’s social media, and that open communication and dialogue is the key to everything.
Evan Stocker said council could undertake more public events and get more items going outside of council meetings, plus get to know the community directly.
Cindy Elliott said she is for implementing public outreach in every department in the city. She also said more public events are required. She said she plans to have running updates on her website if elected.
George Doubt said community consultation needs to happen every day and his number is in the phone book. He said he goes everywhere he can in the community and recommended that people come out to meetings.
Jason Hygaard said he could create a forum where people come and see him. He added that it would be his job to go out and engage, and he asked for invitations.
Todd Phillips said meetings such as committee of the whole and finance committee are held during the day, which makes attendance difficult for some. He suggested the possibility of moving the meetings to the evening.
Michelle Riddle said transparent communication and ethical consultation is the key. She said there is a need to gather.
Luke Holoboch said the city’s website should be more transparent and there should be a back-and-forth platform where people can pose questions online if they are too busy to attend meetings.
Eli Leyland said more community engagement is needed. He said councillors need to be talking to people and coming up with solutions to problems.
Roger Whittaker said people can appear as delegations at city meetings and that councillors should sit and listen. He said residents should tell the council what is bothering them.
Rob Southcott said council needs to do everything it possibly can to communicate. He said he spends a great deal of time on the phone, on email, and the principal job of a councillor is to be a connection between the community and what is going on.
Jim Palm said COVID-19 created difficulties during this council’s term. He said he will never allow residents to not speak in the council chamber and that residents’ voices and communication is key to solving issues.
Jen Zacher said she had concerns about meetings during the day. She said if elected, she would have a website for communication where anyone could contact her.
Trina Isakson said consideration could be given to designing things for people who normally don’t get out to meetings, such as working folks, people with young children, people with mobility and health issues. Wading through council’s information can be intimidating, she added, so communication can be made more clear and accessible.
Earl Almeida said he prides himself on quick communication and responding in a day or two. He said if he doesn’t hear back in a timely manner, he will respond again.
In closing, De Vita said the chamber of commerce had never hosted this many candidates running for councillor. He applauded the candidates for putting their names forward and urged voters to go to the polls on October 15.
General election day is October 15. Read all Peak election coverage at prpeak.com/2022-civic-election.