It was far from a fiery battlefield on the floors of the Rossland Miner’s Hall on Tuesday November 3 when Rossland Rotary Club presented the All Candidates Forum. The Forum was an opportunity for the community to meet their candidates offering a chance for the public to raise their awareness around who each candidate is and what topics candidates consider important for the next four-year term in Council.
There was evidence that some audience members were not impressed with the performance of the outgoing Council, particularly around the issues of conflict of interest and the Arena. However, candidates and the standing room only audience behaved in the spirit of the forum.
The evening kicked off with candidates introducing themselves. They all had an impressive resume of community involvement and connection to Rossland. Absent candidates Aaron Cosbey and Tim Thatcher had their introductory messages read by others. Mr Cosbey’s teenage daughter did her father proud when she confidently took to the floor and demonstrated her public speaking skills, provoking audience members to ponder if she herself will be a future candidate.
Some of the key topics during question time related to past dissatisfaction with Council operations. These included the procedure for hiring a Chief Administration Officer, the delegation by-law, conflict of interest issues, and community transparency.
Candidates were questioned as to how they proposed to improve economics, raise additional revenue beyond taxpayer money, and what they considered to be the priority issues. With regards to the question on raising revenue, the majority of candidates answered with reviewing current practises to save money, cost and resource sharing with neighbouring cities and installing a fibre-optic highway with the introduction of broadband for Rossland. Andrew Zwicker and Mayoral candidate, Councillor Moore, offered some of the more diverse answers. Mr. Zwicker suggested a solar plant to raise revenue and turning the sewerage treatment plant into a revenue stream as opposed to a cost. Kathy Moore added, attracting students to the Monashee Institute and increasing tourists as well as new residents to the city.
Many candidates where in favour of sharing resources to in order to facilitate cost reduction. John Greene went out on a limb and told the audience they should be “thinking amalgamation”. Andrew Zwicker was quick to say he was against an amalgamation having experienced the Halifax, Nova Scotia merger of 216 communities.
Other hot topics included education, improving regional relations, resolving the recreation agreement issue, and the City’s aging infrastructure.
Candidates recognised the need for greater communication with citizens be it through coffee and beer meetings, ski with a Councillor days, and consultation with community groups and newsletters. All agreed to work together but the true test will come once the elected Council sits and priorities need to be put into action. As candidates present at the forum, they had similar ideas theoretically, which should make for a progressive Council.
The Rotary Club’s President, Fred Behrens recommended to all eligible voters to carefully study all issues and candidates before voting. That is why he, along with the Rotary Club, facilitated this forum for the people of Rossland.
“It was an opportunity for Rosslander’s to find out what they need to know to make a decision about who to support in this upcoming election,” Behrens said.