Using his reputation to work collaboratively, and balancing policy making, public and private interest, incumbent Comox Mayor Paul Ives faced off against current councillor and mayoral candidate Tom Grant Monday night during the all candidates forum.
But Grant noted while Comox has many strong features such as parks, libraries and a recreation centre, it is time for a change.
“… all is not rosy in Comox, things can be done differently and better, and sooner rather than later,” he stated in his opening statement.
Grant added he sees a progressive Comox which welcomes entrepreneurs and a work-life balance.
“As mayor, I will be the best salesman for Comox. I want to attract families who would like to start small businesses here.”
Ives referred to his leadership style, which is to build consensus by working with council, senior staff and the public.
“Public policy making, balancing of interest — public and private — takes time to deal tangible results and requires building of special relationships. Better public engagement has been initiated in our processes of development,” he said.
He noted council can also do better by seeking improvements to what they do.
“It’s not enough to say the right thing, but to do the right thing.”
“How we get there by building consensus will depend on a collaborative, team-oriented style of leadership. That is the hallmark of my terms as mayor.”
When asked about the lack of affordable housing, particularly as it relates to homelessness and if candidates were open to collaboration with other municipalities, Grant said he is in favour of the property tax plebiscite for homelessness.
As a founding member of Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society, Grant added he has been awarded the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work on homelessness.
Ives explained the town has enacted strategies to aid the homeless, such as creating a funding reserve and encouraging the creation of secondary suites.
He added only eight cents of every tax dollar goes to local government, with the rest going to other levels of government.
On the issue of the Baybrook house, Grant said the issue is more complicated than it seems.
Ives stated he is opposed to the current proposal.
When questioned about the construction of a shoreline walkway, Ives referred to the desirability of a greenway in the OCP, and noted it is something in which to aspire.
Grant said he agrees with the idea, and said he would like to see the town keep increasing the walkway in small increments.
Asked about the issue of empty retail storefronts in the downtown area, Grant said if elected, he has a five-point plan he would enact, but ran out of time to explain further details.
Ives said the town is not unique, as other communities are facing similar situations with nearby big box stores. He proposed incentives, encouraged downtown living, and highlighting festivals and events in order to increase the vitality of the core.
To stream the all-candidates forum in its entirety from My Tech Guys, visit http://bit.ly/1E3pEoO.