New energy versus experience led to some heated discussion at Trail’s all-candidates forum Tuesday night.
About 150 residents attended the meeting, giving city councillor candidates and those vying for the two Trail school district trustee positions hope that voter turnout will increase from the approximate 25 per cent in 2008.
“It’s time for change and I want to be part of it,” said Rick Georgetti, who along with John Carter, Bryan Deferro, Ray Furlotte, Kevin Jolly and Sean Mackinlay makes up the new blood seeking ballots Nov. 19.
Incumbent councillors Robert Cacchioni, Gord DeRosa, Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson and Fred Romano cited experience as one of the many assets they bring to the table.
Greater Trail amalgamation and the proposed Columbia Gardens industrial park boundary expansion study was by no surprise the topic of discussion.
“Everybody talks amalgamation but nobody wants it,” said Romano, pointing to the shelved study that would look at combining Trail with Warfield.
The majority agreed that there are far too many councils in this region but Furlotte said, “bigger is not necessarily better.”
While most candidates see the addition of the Columbia Gardens industrial park as crucial for future development, DeRosa is not in favour of “taking from somebody to win so they can lose.”
After a request from 13 light industrial or commercial owners, Trail is currently studying the impacts of expanding its boundaries to include Area A’s Columbia Gardens industrial park into city limits.
When it comes to attracting and retaining business professionals, most competitors agreed that beautifying the core and planning more community events like the most recent Spooktacular will lure people into the city to shop or enjoy local eateries.
Cacchioni noted the city has the third lowest business tax in the province and council has always been keen to rezone quickly to assist budding businesses.
“You can’t run a small business when people won’t buy from you,” he said, sending the crowd into cheers. “Many people in this town want small business but want to buy somewhere else.”
Mackinlay, who is the general manager of Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza and The Spot, said he’d like to see advertisement billboards flagging what Trail has to offer tourists. He said the problem is out-of-towners don’t know where Trail is.
Jolly, chair of the Downtown Opportunities and Action Committee, added a consultant is currently coming up with not just a downtown rejuvenation study but a plan that will tell Trail “where to go from here.”
“The city is in need of a major renewal and I hope we can make that change,” said Jolly, who sees the city’s potential as an “economic engine of the Kootenays.”
The serious tone of the night was lifted when the microphone made its way to Carter, who had the crowd laughing as he paused to remember just how many great grand-children he has and recommended voters turned to his webpage to hear from “singer John.”
Most residents got a kick out of this, as Carter was known for his singing commercials he did on the local radio station when he owned Carter’s Sewing Centre.
His “biggest beef” is the closure of the Old Trail Bridge, which closed permanently in the fall when a routine inspection determined that the structure had deteriorated to a point where it was no longer safe for traffic.
While the city considers rerouting its water line from the old crossing and Trail and its regional partners look at moving its sewer line from the structure, candidates confirmed that they’d like to see the lines attached to a new pedestrian and bike bridge.
Trustee hopefuls – Terry Hanik, Lorraine Manning and Mark Wilson – had their turn when a newly appointed youth representative, Danielle Clarke, asked if Rossland Secondary School closed, how they’d accommodate secondary kids at Crowe.
Both Manning and Wilson assured the crowd that the school was built for 825 students but can fit up to 1,000. With about 215 students at RSS and just over 750 at Crowe, they said there is already enough room but added that an additional four classrooms could be added to the building if need be.
While all three candidates agreed keeping K-7 in a community is a must, Hanik said he doesn’t see the big deal with bussing Rossland kids to Crowe.
“I don’t see any problem with students from Rossland coming down to Trail,” he said, adding that Fruitvale high school students don’t mind the journey.
The night, hosted by the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce, ended surprisingly right on time even with questions from the crowd often taking up to 20 minutes to answer once it made its way from candidate to candidate.
Trail voters can cast their advance ballots from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre on Nov. 16 or opt to vote during the same time on general voting day, Nov. 19, at the Trail Memorial Centre.