Hope’s three mayoral candidates were asked what their vision for Hope is, in a so-called ‘blue sky’ question from the chamber of commerce at an all candidates meeting held Oct. 4.
Candidate Cindy Young said she hopes to see more business in Hope, in order to keep Hope’s young people in town.
“I’m going to use the analogy, it’s just like a church. If you just have older people in a church, and there’s no young people, soon that church dies,” she said.
Incumbent Wilfried Vicktor said he’d like to see a strong level of satisfaction on the part of councillors and residents, as well as keeping Hope’s voice as strong as it has been when speaking to the provincial and federal government by being a ‘vocal and cohesive group.’
“I would love to see… that you as taxpayers have a high level of customer satisfaction, that we’ve used your dollars wisely. I think we’ve done well this term, but we can always do better,” he said.
Peter Robb, taking the ‘blue sky’ question and running with it, said he wanted to see a ‘positive and collaborative leadership team’ between the chamber of commerce and AdvantageHOPE, a homelessness program developed by HART (Homelessness Action Response Table) and the Hope and Area Transition Society which is used across the province, and finally Station House up and running.
“The former Station House site at Water and the Old Hope Princeton Way is now fully developed. It is now our new marquee, high traffic entrance to our community. A new home for the visitors centre and the museum continues to thrive,” he said.
“On a personal note, I moved into our new townhouse, got to downsize finally,” Robb added, to laughs and applause from audience members.
Mayoral candidates were allowed to share their dreams for the community, but also got into the nitty-gritty on infrastructure, business development and audience questions about secondary suites, 753 Waterworks and more at the Oct. 4 meeting. Held at the recreation centre, the event was attended by over 250 people.
On a question about aging infrastructure, Young threw her support behind purchasing the Emil Anderson property and moving district hall, the fire hall and the public works yard there.
Vicktor talked successes over the past term, including agressive investments in paving of Rupert Street, Kawkawa Lake and 6 Avenue, upgrading district hall and preparing plans for a pedestrian path to Silver Creek.
Robb blasted the current state of the visitors centre, calling it a ‘disgrace’ that the museum with 3,600 artifacts is housed in a mouldy building and the visitors centre is housed in a Britco trailer.
“What’s wrong with calling it the Nestle visitors centre?” he said, floating the idea of corporate involvement in rebuilding aging infrastructure. He also mentioned forming a historical society to keep museum artifacts safe and apply for funding.
On a question on how to deal with infrastructure to cope with higher density that the district is encouraging, Peter Robb said long-term planning is crucial.
“If you’re looking to put a suite in, we will increase your permit prices to offset the costs. And then you can go to the developers side of things and increase development cost charges to developers,” he said.
Vicktor said the district has invested in a ‘comprehensive asset management plan so that we have an inventory of all our roads, water and sewer coming on soon…We know which roads have to be replaced, when they have to be replaced, lifetimes of the different infrastructure in our community, so we can budget our finance accordingly.”
Young said coach houses are not the answer to higher density and older residents downsizing. Instead, the district should ask developers to come in and build apartments and townhouses for Hope’s aging population.
On attracting businesses other than business, Young said going to trade shows is the answer.
“I think the best thing that municipal governments can do to create jobs, is get out of the way of business,” Vicktor said, highlighting businesses like the recently-opened Mattress Recycling plant.
Vicktor added it is important not to forget existing businesses, who he said supply 80 per cent of new jobs in a community.
Robb said the first step would be to bring the chamber of commerce and AdvantageHOPE boards together, to ‘resolve long-standing issues and clearly define their community roles.’
Looking at permissive tax bylaw incentives to attract light industry is another idea, as is promoting ALR land for agricultural opportunities.
Residents of Hope go to the polls Saturday, Oct. 20 to elect one mayor and six councillors. Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hope recreation centre at 1005 6 Avenue.
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