Port Alberni city council candidates—close to two dozen of them—attempted to stand out from the crowd at the all-candidates meeting at the Steelworkers Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 28.
The meeting, co-hosted by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Port Alberni & District Labour Council, gave the 21 out of 22 candidates who attended a brief chance to introduce themselves before each answering one question sourced from the public.
(Deanna Shanley was the only candidate unable to attend.)
The 10th Avenue crossing, health care, taxes, city hall expenditures and strategies to attract more individuals and businesses to Port Alberni were among the main issues discussed.
Ian Thomas dismissed the option of a cycle crossing over Roger Creek, saying that “a bike crossing is not for everyone” and that if the city were to finance a crossing, he’d rather see one that everyone would benefit from.
Malcolm Menninga stressed the importance of spending money on projects that would attract new residents.
“Is that going to bring people here? No. The money could be spent better elsewhere.”
Annette Clement dismissed the 10th Avenue crossing as a low priority, stating that the city is “fighting with taxes as is… to implement any new projects would be inappropriate.”
Candidates grappled with how to keep tax increases low to nonexistent while not cutting city services.
Denis Sauve said that he would “revisit what council has done and what it can afford in the future” and that he would hold any future initiatives accountable for sticking to their budgets.
Pat Kermeen said that council would have to “look at everything” they spend money on, whether it be consultants or travel and prioritize what the city really needs now versus what can wait till later.
Incumbent Jack McLeman said that he would “change [the] managerial structure at city hall” and reduce the funding spent on consultants.
Incumbent Dan Washington cautioned the audience against expecting a tax freeze, stating that “no one can promise no taxes” but that he would work on a “simple strategic plan” to focus council’s efforts.
Ron Paulson spoke to beautifying Port Alberni and making it a place where people want to live and visit. According to Paulson, there needs to be an incentive for residents and businesses to renovate, rather than the disincentive of being punished by higher taxes.
According to Chris Alemany, the city needs to lobby the province to bring more long-term health facilities to the city instead of having those patients take up room at the hospital.