The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce and Creative Employment Access Society hosted a ‘speed campaigning’ event that provided participants with a close-up look at the candidates vying for a seat on Courtenay council in Saturday’s election.
Wednesday at the Westerly, small groups had seven minutes to converse with candidates, who rotated from table to table at the sound of a bell.
“I thought the format was excellent,” said Mayor Larry Jangula, who credits the hosts for offering an event that was “uniquely different” from the usual all-candidate forums.
“There were almost no two tables that were alike as far as questions. It was a good experience for those running. And for the electorate, they had a first-hand opportunity to sit down face-to-face and see how the candidates handle questions, see how they think, see how they respond.”
To gain a better understanding of each person, Bill Jackson made notes during a preamble where candidates said a few words before the group sessions.
“I can certainly see the people who have good intentions, versus the people who have some concrete ideas, which we need,” Jackson said.
He put candidates to the test with questions about downtown revitalization, handling pressure from special interest groups, and the difference between commercial and residential taxes.
“I have a lot of respect for anybody running here for council,” Jackson said. “It’s quite a challenge. You have to be knowledgeable on so many topics.”
“I enjoyed the format,” said Helen Boyd, who attended as a member of the Comox Valley Network Association of Registered Nurses of B.C. (comoxvalleycares.com). “I thought it was really personal to be able to talk to the politicians individually, and to have our issue of homelessness addressed with each and every one of them.”
The association wants people to vote yes in a non-binding referendum question regarding a homelessness tax that will appear in a separate ballot Nov. 15. They fear a no vote would send the wrong message to politicians, indicating a lack of interest in the homelessness issue. Each politician Boyd quizzed said they would vote yes to this question.
Not surprisingly, Jangula fielded some big questions Wednesday — which he answered to the best of his ability.
“There’s some things I just can’t answer,” he said, noting the burning question concerned Maple Pool and how the dispute has reached this point. “That’s a real hard question to answer. It’s just not something you can answer with one line.”
The issue dates back to 2011 when the city initiated legal action against Dali and Jin Lin, seeking to shut down the campground. At issue is zoning, which does not allow the couple to house people on the property, which sits in a floodplain. Advocates fear most tenants would become homeless if evicted.
Dali Lin — who attended Wednesday — notes some candidates said to stop the legal action. But he is tired of hearing “non-answers” about the issue being “complicated” or in need of a mediator.
“Some candidates say we want to find a solution.”
Which Lin equates to writing a blank cheque.
“What does it really mean? ‘Want a solution’ — been saying that for four years. To say, ‘Find a solution,’ it doesn’t mean anything.”