Greenwood’s byelection candidates took questions from the electorate at the city’s MacArthur Centre Monday evening, Sept. 28.
Around 15 people, including the six candidates, came to the All Candidates’ Meeting (ACM) hosted by the Greenwood Board of Trade.
The board live streamed the event on its Facebook page, but problems with the sound equipment made it difficult to hear much of what was said.
Candidates gave brief introductions before taking questions from the floor and moderator Vanessa Chartier, who read questions sent to the board of trade via Facebook messenger.
The candidates overwhelmingly stressed the need for City Hall to unite behind residents and local businesses.
In order of introduction, mayoral candidate Gerry Shaw pledged community engagement through the board of trade, local business owners and possibly Community Futures, a provincial network of business strategists who support smalltown entrepreneurs.
Regretting “the unfortunate resignation of our mayor [Ed Smith],” Shaw said he would promote “respectful communication and co-operation with council” if elected.
Next to speak was council candidate Hendrik van Wyk, who introduced himself as “the new kid on the block.”
Van Wyk described a community in need of rejuvenation, one that outsiders might drive through and ask, “what happened here?”
“If you want to revitalize a town, the one thing that works is to work together.”
Speaking to housing affordability, van Wyk said, “There reality is…there isn’t good housing to buy in Greenwood.”
“People want to live simpler. They want to live cheaper, and we need to accommodate that.”
Council Candidate Charlene Izuka started off by emphasizing Greenwood’s rich heritage.
“Greenwood is such an amazing place. There’s so much stuff that’s taken place here: Let’s embrace that.”
Izuka said she’d work with local police to nab speeding cars along Greenwood’s South Copper Road, which she said non-residents treat like Highway 3.
She would reach out to the community to tackle housing affordability, she said.
“We’re only as engaged as our community…More importantly, I think we need to involve the community in the planning process.”
Council candidate Mark Seymour stressed the need to re-invigorate city businesses.
“We as a business community have a right to work together.”
“We have everything that people want around here,” Seymour said. “The problem is, we’re not working together.”
Most of Seymour’s talking points were drowned out by sound problems affecting the live-stream, so The Times reached him by phone Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Said Seymour, “The biggest thing is listening more to the citizens of Greenwood and finding out what they want, rather than going on the agenda that seems to be imposed by current and past councils.”
Mayoral candidate Barry Noll stressed Greenwood’s need for “great communication” and “great leadership.”
“We need to look at ways to find the opportunities to engage with locals–to work towards creating the right community for our town.”
Noll said he would bring in tourist dollars by promoting Greenwood attractions.
Describing a sidewalk conversation he’d had with out-of-towners earlier Monday, Noll said he’d encouraged them “to go to Greenwood first,” after they told him, “We’re going to Grand Forks.”
He agreed with other candidates that mayor and council would need to plan for smaller, more affordable homes, including “carriage” and “tiny” homes.
Last to speak was mayoral candidate Carolina Hopkins, who introduced herself as “the dark horse from Whitehorse.”
Hopkins outlined her and her husband’s construction of a Salmo wildlife park and her work at Castlegar’s Columbia Power corporation.
She repeatedly called for community involvement to redress issues with city zoning policies and bylaws, as well as issues with affordable housing.
Hopkins called for community policing after a woman in the audience said she’d had a break-in at her home near the Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada).
There would be less property crime, “if we all come together as a community, re-institute our citizens on patrol, look at co-ordinating with our ATV-ers, look at [installing] critter cams for our trails and put information on Facebook,” Hopkins said.
Moderator Chartier said she was impressed that the meeting ended on time.
“This is going to be one of the shortest ACMs ever,” she quipped.
The Times will update this story after interviewing board of trade president Martin Huhn.
Advanced polls opens at the MacArthur Centre Wednesday, Sept. 30.
General polls open at centre Saturday, Oct. 10.