With the mayoral race slimmer than the contest for city council, the audience at Sunday’s forum had a better opportunity to compare the three candidates – Nancy Cooper, Kevin Flynn and Ronald Telfer.
Once again, there were distinct similarities between the three candidates, as all suggested support for improving local economic conditions by proactively courting new business and discussing how to grow current businesses in our community. All three also called for improvements to the industrial park to make it more attractive, with Flynn saying he would like to see the name changed from “industrial park” to “business park” to better reflect the type of clean industry and high-tech jobs that could be located there. Improvements to the sewer system in that area was also cited as a priority, as the current septic-based systems can limit developable land.
Telfer suggested the city attempt to attract the pharmaceutical industry.
“Those are good jobs. That way we make sure the young people have something,” said the 83-year-old Canoe resident.
Cooper referred to her employment with businesses which have a social conscience, and said
those are the types of businesses which Salmon Arm needs.
Again, a common theme was support for an expanded college, which would provide stable, well-paying jobs and a spinoff economic effect from a larger influx of students.
A sensitive environmental inventory was also supported by all three, with Flynn saying the project needs to move forward this year or next.
“This would help every business to know where these areas are and how they can or can’t be developed,” said Cooper.
Another notable area of agreement came in response to a yes-no question about supporting the Sturgis North Motorcycle rally, in light of the fact some local businesses have not been paid, it will be entirely on Neskonlith land and the city will have to pay for policing costs.
All three candidates declined to support the 2012 Sturgis event.
When asked a yes-no question about how they would vote today on the SmartCentres shopping mall development, Flynn stood behind his yes vote, Telfer also raised his hand for yes, while Cooper half-raised her hand with a “maybe,” which sparked some groans from the audience.
Later candidates were asked what they would like to see on the SmartCentres property.
“SmartCentres is a done deal, so it is a moot point. We can not go back, only go forward. We’ll get over this rift and we’ll all move on,” said Cooper in response.
Flynn pointed out the property was privately owned to start with and was within the 30th Street NE to 30th Street SW development boundary.
“I think this is a very good result for the community.”
Telfer endorsed Flynn’s remarks.
A request from the developer of the Canoe Creek Golf Course to include his land within the municipal boundaries received a commitment from Cooper and Flynn for further review. Telfer passed on the question.
“I am an avid golfer and I do think there is a role for residential development on a golf course,” said Flynn, who noted there could be potential tax benefits to the city and an opportunity for some type of satellite sewage treatment that could service both Canoe Creek and the industrial park.
While Cooper and Flynn’s introductory remarks focused on their financial backgrounds, their leadership skills and their plans to improve the community, Telfer chose to put the spotlight on his personal mission to support those who use wood-burning appliances by convincing BC Hydro to buy greenhouse gas offsets from them. He noted he was left off the city’s environmental management committee, “so the one thing left was to go for mayor.”
While saying his wife wanted him to avoid anything cheesy, Flynn got some laughs when he said this just wouldn’t be like him and unveiled the word “live” on the podium.
He went on to explain that this stood for leadership, investment, vision, engagement and enthusiasm, and vowed to bring all of those to city hall.
Cooper addressed the community rift over the SmartCentres issue head-on, saying the city needs better development and consultation processes, especially with First Nations bands, to avoid future issues.
“We need to bring groups together more and I can do that… Look at what we can do when we work together. Our differences are our strengths.”