Jim Harding from the Performing Arts Centre addresses a crowd of about 400 people at start of Monday night’s forum (Pete McIntyre/Beach Radio)
The Vernon council candidates got their time in the spotlight at the final forum before Saturday’s elections.
About 400 people came out to hear the 20 candidates for councillor at the Performing Arts Centre Monday night.
The mayoralty candidates were not a part of the forum, other than being allowed to take part in the ‘Meet and Greet’ in the foyer beforehand.
The PAC’s executive director Jim Harding says it was a real juggling act to try and get everyone involved.
“So far the feedback from the public was that they enjoyed it. I think we we’re able to keep things moving along. I think all the candidates got a pretty fair shot that wanted to contribute their comments,” Harding tells Beach Radio News.
Harding says the questions questions focused on four key areas.
“First of all was affordable-attainable housing. The next one was public safety, and that would be homelessness, drug use, that kind of thing. The next one was economic development and how to revitalize downtown.”
The final focus was on the transparency of city council.
The night began with Tannis Nelson from the Regional District of North Okanagan outlining the cultural centre referendum.
Nelson explained the facility would cost $48 a year for the average taxpayer, but due to retiring debt from Kal Tire Place and the PAC, the cost will be $12 a year for 20 years.
Most of the candidates supported it, but four didn’t give an opinion, and Terry Volcano said “We don’t need a Taj Mahal.”
Former MLA Tom Christensen also spoke in favour of a yes vote, noting how important the facility will be to the city’s future, and the need to update what the art gallery and museum currently have.
Harding says they didn’t present a No side, but some of the negative points were brought up by a few candidates.
“So I think those questions, those concerns did get voiced, but there was overwhelming support from the council candidates to proceed with a yes vote for the referendum,” says Harding.
Other issues discussed included the impact of construction on businesses, and ways to keep young people in the city.
Duane Grandbois from Beach Radio was the forum’s moderator.