If a large crowd is any indication of interest in local politics – then this year’s race for a job on Trail council promises to be a popular ride.
More than 300 people gathered in the Trail Memorial Centre Thursday evening to hear from the city’s four mayoral candidates, 10 councillors-in-running, and three school trustee contenders.
There wasn’t a particular eyebrow raising moment during the Silver City forum, rather the two-hour event offered a well-rounded insight of the 17 names up for votes Nov. 15.
The abundance of candidates vying for one of seven seats meant a tight time frame for each to weigh in on topics that ranged from resolving fractures in recreation and improving relations with the city’s neighbours; to reviving downtown, a traffic change on Bay Ave., and the poor condition of Glenmerry and West Trail streets.
Each candidate was given two minutes to introduce themselves before moderator Catherine Adair moved into a media round of questioning for Roger Catalano, Doug Jones, Mike Martin and Ian McLeod.
First out of the gate, was the matter of regional recreation and how the potential mayors could reach a new agreement with the Beaver Valley.
While three assented that a new deal is in Trail’s best interest and offered specific solutions, mayoral candidate Ian McLeod stood firm on axing the two-tier fees, by saying the system should be user-pay because it doesn’t matter where a person lives, everyone should pay the same rate to access the city’s facilities.
Next up, was a question to incumbents Robert Cacchioni, Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson, Rick Georgetti, Kevin Jolly and Sean Mackinlay.
The councillors were asked how they would improve regional coordination in the next four years.
While all five remain committed to growing local relationships, Cacchioni pointed out that Trail is already working together with the area’s municipalities.
He cited specific examples such as the airport sale between Trail and the regional district; the recent multimillion dollar sewer agreement with Warfield and Rossland; and the current recreation agreement with Warfield.
Newcomers Carol Dobie, Donal Park, Lisa Pasin, former councillor Fred Romano, and past mayor Sandy Santori, were next on the hot seat when they were asked about diversifying Trail’s economy. Responses were detailed, and varied from ideas to grow downtown business, the need for more parking, zoning and bylaw review to ease future development, and increasing populace through condo construction along the Esplanade. Santori added that Victoria Street revitalization was a good start, but downtown Trail needs to become a place where people want to go, as opposed need to go, before the markets will respond to demand.
The venue’s attention then turned to Terry Hanik, Lorraine Manning, and Mark Wilson, when the three trustee candidates were queried about the BC Education Plan and how they could ensure student needs advance along with technology and newly created jobs.
In short, Hanik replied that trades must come back to the high schools; Manning maintained that offering more professional development for teachers will relay into meeting each student’s unique needs with individualized learning plans; and Wilson said that equity and equality in all schools, not just certain sectors, would ensure every student has access to the latest technology.
From there, Adair turned her attention to the pre-written questions from the audience.
She asked all the civic politicians if they would vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the upcoming referendum, which seeks assent for the city to borrow about $6 million for a new library/museum.
Consensus across the board, with the exception of Park, was full support for new construction. Pasin noted that for Trail to move forward, there must be investment in and from the community.
Park is undecided, saying he needs more information on parking and building access for the potential new space that’s slated for the south end of town.
Additional queries about shortfalls with Trail’s ambulance service and the Trail Residency Program were forthcoming – but what drew the loudest response from the crowd was a question about the large yellow blocks at the Bay Ave. four-way stop.
The five incumbents reassured forum guests that the canary-coloured markers are only temporary, and future plans include eye-pleasing bump outs, designed for pedestrian safety.