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DNV hopefuls make final appeal to voters
They came in droves — a couple hundred Seymour residents, braving a gauntlet of glad-handing vote-seekers stretching from the parking lot to the pews at Mount Seymour United Church.
It was one of the last chances for North Vancouver district mayoral and council candidates to make their appeals for votes in person before the November 19 election.
Hosted by community groups from the Seymour, Parkgate and Blueridge neighbourhoods, the questions put to all 12 candidates for council and two for mayor on Monday ranged in topic from urban development to medical marijuana, curbside composting to an amalgamated North Shore-Sea to Sky region.
Each candidate posted at least one strong response during the two-hour debate, with Coun. Mike Little breaking from the safety of the pack early on a leading question about the ‘exponential increase’ in traffic on and around the Second Narrows Bridge.
“I’ve got to tell you that the lineup in the morning is about the same spot it was 15 years ago and in fact it’s a little bit shorter,” he said.
On the latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business report slamming the district for municipal spending, council hopeful Kevin Macauley told voters that the report simply didn’t represent the truth, while mayoral contender Margie Goodman countered that though the numbers in the report may be inaccurate, she couldn’t find current budget figures from the district. Either way, she said, “Something is wrong somewhere.”
On a question of affordable housing, council candidate Holly Back said the district might consider using land now owned by the district school board to build rental housing for seniors and families.
On this same point, fellow hopeful Wendy Qureshi suggested establishing a kind of rental quota that mandated replacing any destroyed rental housing with the same number of units elsewhere.
On municipal spending, Coun. Alan Nixon suggested the district implement a wage freeze for staff next year, except for the lowest paid 10 per cent. In line with that, Coun. Roger Bassam and newcomer Austin Park suggested there is millions of dollars in taxpayer money to be recouped by renegotiating district service agreements with Metro Vancouver and neighbouring North Shore governments.
When one audience member floated the idea of seceding from the Metro community, Mayor Richard Walton and Coun. Lisa Muri agreed that though it may sound like an attractive way to get the district’s concerns heard at the regional board, it would never be financially viable.
Coun. Robin Hicks emphasized the need for the district to replace its aging infrastructure while candidate John Gilmour pulled from his environmental background in proposing a waste-to-energy solution for funding and sustaining projects like wastewater and solid waste treatment.
On matters of crime, council hopeful Howard Dahl voiced his opposition to recreational marijuana use, while Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn stressed a need for greater civilian oversight of the regional RCMP.