The topics covered were vast but the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce candidates night allowed many to get a better idea how they are going to vote in a few weeks.
The meeting began with an introduction all of the councillor candidates seeking election. They had two minutes each to speak about their platforms and their aspirations if elected to council.
In Ward 1 (Trenton): Paul Bordonaro, Andre deVries, Sally Freeman, Stuart Gilboord, Mark Kennedy, Michael Kotsovos, Fred Kuypers, David O’Neil, Tyler Rickey, Leslie Roseblade.
In Ward 2 (Sidney): Terry Cassidy, Allan DeWitt, Fred Keating, Ernst Kuglin, Don Kuntze, Paul Kyte, Garry Quinn, Karen Sharpe.
In Ward 3 (Murray): Jim Alyea, David McCue (Both candidates are acclaimed and chose not to speak at the meeting to allow for more time for the others to speak).
In Ward 4 (Frankford): Gregg Covell, Rob McIntosh, Lynda Reid.
Topics covered by the candidates included: dialysis and keeping the Trenton Memorial Hospital a prominent part of the community, economic development, a reduction in pay cuts to council and looking at better representation of councillor numbers in Quinte West, transit, attracting people to the community, affordable housing, tourism, supporting seniors, better doctor recruitment and more pressure to establish a mental health/PTSD facility to name some.
There weren’t many issues which the two men disagreed on as they both said they would look at the re-structuring of how Quinte West is represented by councillors, making sure arts and culture get just as much support as recreation, and moving public transit forward.
Other topics covered included road maintenance, the Via station, affordable housing, cannabis legalization and tourism.
To start the question portion of the evening, they were asked if there was anything they wished they would have done differently.
Harrison stated he would have liked to have completed each project they had set out to undertake in this term and complete it under budget. He continued by saying they are continuing to make improvements at the operations centre, which in turn will improve their services to the citizens of Quinte West.
Armstrong said roads seemed to be a big fiasco, including the line painting. He stated the roads are not up to snuff for their city.
A tax question was bound to come up and the two were asked if they supported closing the gap between residential, commercial and industrial groups or making sure the gap doesn’t grow further apart.
Armstrong stated everyone needs to pay their fair share if they want to encourage development.
Harrison said he supported closing the gap but he heard affordable housing from a couple of the councillor candidates and in order to do that they need incentives or development charges because council doesn’t have the ability to construct affordable housing.
When it came to looking at re-structuring how Quinte West is represented by councillors, both Armstrong and Harrison said they’d look at it.
Armstrong stated it was important they address it and said whether it meant boundary changes or a reduction of councillors, he was in favour of taking a look at it.
Harrison said it was a very difficult process back when amalgamation happened but if they can come up with something better he was open to the idea as long as all the wards were represented to the best of their ability.
The topic of the legalization of cannabis came up, and the two mayoral candidates were asked if private retail cannabis stores would be in Quinte West.
Armstrong stated there were still many questions left to be answered but he is on the record as supporting it because if Quinte West were not to support it, there are many other communities a short distance away that would.
Harrison said he doesn’t see a need for it, they can’t handle it and he’s very worried for what’s ahead. He said there is nothing in it for Quinte West and they are facing only the expense.
When it came to council voting themselves an 18% increase last month because of tax changes for those who sit on council, Armstrong stated he was against it.
Harrison said he believes people should be paid appropriately for their work and has no problem looking at it again as it doesn’t kick in until December.
In closing Armstrong stated the number one asset in Quinte West is the diversity of the population and he will continue to serve the residents on a day to day basis.
Harrison said he’d continue to work hard for the residents to the best of his ability.
Election day is October 22.