Transportation, community-building and the future of the Christie Point redevelopment were all top of mind for View Royal residents who attended the all-candidates meeting Thursday evening.
Close to 100 people attended the event, hosted by the WestShore Chamber of Commerce at Elements Casino, to hear what incumbents Damian Kowalewich, Ron Mattson and John Rogers had to say alongside hopefuls Nathan Daisley, Adam Flint and Gery Lemon.
The six candidates will vie for four positions on council while Mayor David Screech will be acclaimed having faced no opponents.
Questions submitted by the public challenged the candidates on their community involvement, opinions on the E & N rail corridor, how they would maintain the municipality’s low tax rates and their stance on the therapeutic recovery community coming to the former site of Choices Transitional Home.
Council hopeful Daisley called the centre, run by Our Place Society, a “game changer” and a move that addresses the root issues of homelessness and addiction in Greater Victoria.
On the redevelopment at Christie Point, which he characterized as “renovicting families from our community,” he said, “I’ve been looking for ways to push back on this project.”
The $200 million development would demolish 161 apartments to make way for 473 new until in four, six-storey buildings on the 16-acre property that has potential to affect salmon spawning in the adjacent waters.
|Incumbent View Royal councillor Ron Mattson answers a question during the all-candidates meeting Thursday at Elements Casino, as fellow candidate Gery Lemon looks on. (Kristyn Anthony/News Staff)|
On the topic of amalgamation, Coun. Kowalewich stressed there are issues – transportation, policing – that could benefit from a regional approach.
“We need to start looking way further down the road,” he said, in reference to rapid transit for an increasing population. “Sooke and Langford are booming and they’re not stopping.”
Affordable housing and rental properties are at an all-time low in View Royal, said Flint, so a “smart” approach to development is key. Building in areas close to transit arteries and amenities, he said, will leave smaller, quiet neighbourhoods in tact.
Coun. Ron Mattson, a 23-year veteran of council said maintaining a low tax rate for the community is something he has worked hard on, as evidenced by View Royal’s safe streets, low crime responsive police and great fire department.
There is much to be admired about View Royal, he said, noting there are also a lot of problems left to fix.
Gery Lemon, the sole female candidate who has made View Royal her home for 26 years pledged to take an environmental lens to all issues that come before council. “Don’t vote for me because I’m a woman,” she said. “Vote for me because I’m the right woman.”
Before Mayor David Screech concluded the evening thanking “six great candidates” for answering difficult questions so well, Coun. Rogers – who stressed he his not a fan of bus lanes on Island Highway – urged those in the audience who left with more questions to contact him.
“I do the research, listen and ask questions,” he said.
The B.C. municipal election is Oct. 20.