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Sidney candidates questioned at meeting
All the candidates for council in Sidney have one thing in common; not one would fess up to which mayoral candidate they’ll endorse on Nov. 19.
The candidates were responding to a question during the Sidney Business Association’s all candidates forum on Oct. 25. The question was a two-parter that asked mayoral candidates Jack Barker and Larry Cross (seated in alphabetical order on stage in the Bodine Family Hall) what their vision of Beacon Avenue would be in five years.
“We had a vision a long time ago and it came true,” Barker said, adding that to maintain that, council needs to be more flexible with businesses looking to expand, or renovate.
“It is looking a little tired,” Cross said. He would like to see it “as attractive as Carmel, California.”
The follow-up to the question asked council candidates which vision they endorsed.
“Both visions have merit,” said Mike Barwick. “They weren’t that much different.”
Incumbent Mervyn Lougher Goodey noted that both mayoral candidates appear to love Sidney. He said flat out: “I ain’t gonna choose.”
Amalgamation was another question that got similar responses across the board; it will happen someday, but not all 13 municipalities in one district.
“I don’t think it will be one, it’ll be three,” Barker said.
“I’d like to see the business case for it,” Cross said. “I would want to think very carefully and see what it would mean for Sidney.”
“Amalgamation is really a community discussion we have got to have,” said Melissa Hailey.
Tim Chad noted that the three Peninsula districts already work together in areas like sewer, water and emergency services.
“We’re actually halfway there, we have a regional board,” Lougher Goodey said, pointing out the CRD.
“If it worked it would be a great idea,” said Steve Price. “Time and time again amalgamation has been shown to raise costs.”
Lois Weaver echoed Loveless, commenting that economics should not be the only factor, but should include the unique characters of the Peninsula communities.
Top topics during individual questions at the forum surrounded parking, development, business support and affordable housing — many interconnected.
“There’s only one way to deal with (parking), that’s to go up,” Barwick said at one point. “We’re not talking 10 storeys.”
“The more people attracted to Sidney … the better it is for my business, the better it is for the community, the better it is for other business owners,” Hailey said.
A handful of questions aimed at incumbent council members questioned costs at the Town of Sidney.
“We basically run a $22 million business … we’re at the top of the CRD in terms of doing things properly,” said Price. A sentiment shared by Cross, who added that the town is among the lowest in tax increases across the regional district.
Another asked whether Barker could work without conflict as a realtor and developer.
“I’m not a developer,” he answered. “We’re all in conflict at some time.
“I do support our Official Community Plan,” he added, a phrase he repeated throughout the evening.
The loss of a visitor information centre at Iroquois Park came up a handful of times. The signage now directs traffic to the information centre near the Mary Winspear Centre where there’s ample parking, Lougher-Goodey said in one response. As well, concerns over parking for boat trailers at Tulista Park were raised.
One question directed at council candidate Chad raised an issue addressed in the ‘letters to the editor’ of the News Review recently, questioning the one-way status of Beacon Avenue.
“Maybe it’s time people got their say at a public hearing,” Chad said, noting it’s a decision that was made 10 years ago.
How to attract young professionals and business to town came up a couple of times.
“We have to look at core issues, parking to sustain more people and housing to sustain more people,” Crispin said.
“Encourage businesses to find a home here. And a lot are small employers with small staff,” Barwick said. “No business, no employment, no town.”
Cross and Barker again answered the vision question during the three-hour meeting, though this time with a vision to 2020.
“Very similar to what it is now,” Barker said. “We have to work hard together to bring that character back because we’re losing it.”
“I want to see the spirit of our town maintained … as well as its physical appearance,” Cross said.
The election for mayor and councillors will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19 with two advance voting opportunites on Nov. 9 and Nov. 16. All voting at Town of Sidney municipal hall, 2440 Sidney Ave., from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those expecting to be absent on these voting days may request a mail ballot by contacting the town’s administration department at 250-656-1139. School District No. 63 Board trustee Jane Husband was acclaimed.
Did you know: Robbins Parking made an appearance in a number of questions during the all candidates forum in Sidney.
“We’re looking at options,” said mayoral candidate Larry Cross, of parking enforcement in town. Residents are finding non-residents parking on residential streets and leaving by air or sea on a days-long trip, he said. Robbins is one of those options, he added.
Where do you live?
One question focussed on candidates’ residences. Garry Crispin, Melissa Hailey and Marilyn Loveless do not live within the boundaries of the Town of Sidney.
Loveless said she felt the lure while on the school board for 12 years, then working at a seniors home in Sidney. “I just felt at home out here,” she said.
Crispin lives just outside of the town where was born and raised — literally. He was born at Rest Haven hospital. “
“This is my home town, you are my people,” he said, noting economics kept him outside of Sidney.
“I spend most of my waking hours in Sidney,” said Hailey, who runs a kayak company in town. “This is where my bread and butter is.”