The WestShore Chamber of Commerce hosted an all-candidates forum for View Royal’s candidates for mayor and council on Sept. 29.
All candidates answered four questions on town spending amid inflation, combating climate change, review of the official community plan and pay for mayor and council.
Here’s what was said.
Incumbent Mayor David Screech emphasized building on council’s existing work. Screech wants to keep tax increases to a minimum while still investing in infrastructure and cut down on vehicle and building emissions via the town’s climate action plan. He added there would be a long public consultation process still to come on the official community plan (OCP) review and that he would continue to back an increase in pay for those serving on council, but did say he wished there was a provincial mechanism to decide municipal council’s pay.
Mayoral candidate Sid Tobias contrastingly proposed drastic changes in direction for council, saying he’d advocate for no new tax increases and “shred” the draft OCP as it stands, and start over. Tobias said he’ll also commit to preserving the town’s tree canopy in the hopes of addressing climate change and would vote against a pay increase for mayor and council.
Council candidate Judy Estrin said she would take a longer-term outlook to council spending and warned against getting caught up in the “cause of the moment” on climate change adaptations, worrying about how the town will recycle electric vehicle batteries. Estrin said she’d prefer the pay increase for mayor and council be spread out over four years and says more public input is needed on the OCP.
Allison MacKenzie said councillors should be financial stewards and look more closely at spending. She wants to make View Royal more walkable and for more electric vehicle chargers to be available. She also says the OCP should be used just as a guiding framework and that she’d be against a pay bump for mayor and council.
Incumbent Ron Mattson said he’d look to keep taxes low and reduce expenditures while requiring new developments to come with electric vehicle chargers and establishing cooling centres for seniors during hot weather. He wants to revamp the OCP against increasing density in singe-family neighbourhoods and is against a pay bump for mayor and council.
Incumbent John Rogers wants council to refocus on core services and safe streets, as well as active transport and transit when building affordable housing. Rogers wants more consultation on the OCP and a review of the town’s transportation plan and supports a pay increase.
Council candidate Don Brown would strive for a balanced town budget, and give the public more input. He wants to replace the town’s vehicle fleet with electric cars and wants more meetings on the OCP in different locations in town, and backs the pay increase.
Incumbent Damian Kowalewich said he wants to hear more from residents on service levels to see if some hard decisions are needed, as well as on the ongoing OCP review. He touted council’s climate work on things like the heat pump program and backed the pay increase, noting that he wished there was a provincial body that decided municipal council’s pay.
Incumbent Gery Lemon said the town was fortunate to have the casino come budget time. She wanted more incentives for the heat pump program and for residents to switch to electric vehicles and wants more EV chargers. Lemon supported both the idea of more OCP consultation and a pay bump for mayor and council.