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Candidates sport different shades of green

Current councillors, mayor cross-examined at environment all candidates meeting

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The microscope lens was placed over the three councillors seeking re-election and Mayor Ken Melamed during the final all candidate meeting of this election.

And while most candidates present at the AWARE-hosted event on Wednesday, Nov. 5, got a chance to field at least one question on green issues, almost half of the public’s queries were directed only at incumbents.

The community wanted current councillors to explain when the residents of Alta Lake could expect sewer upgrades and whether they support ATV and snowmobile centred businesses.

To most questions, the incumbents — Ralph Forsyth, Bob Lorriman, Eckhard Zeidler and Melamed — went over the municipality’s role and explained relevant background information. The four council members also corrected factual errors in several questions asked that evening.

About 150 people attended the environment-focused all candidates meeting, which was the last chance for the public to see most candidates on the same stage before the Nov. 15 election. Candidates’ shades of green were exposed, as topics ranged from Whistler University, to making sure the Olympics are “green”, to lifestyle choices.

The last question of the night, aimed only at Melamed, asked about his thoughts on Whistler’s dependence on long-haul vacation travellers.

“We are on a journey to sustainability, but we never claimed to be already sustainable,” Melamed responded.

“We will not stop being a long-haul destination resort, but we need to wean ourselves off that.”

The evening began with two-minute presentations from each candidate. The AWARE board then asked most of the council hopefuls to answer one of five prepared questions, before questions were accepted from the public.

Most candidates agreed that Whistler’s natural environment should be protected and promised to continue the momentum established by previous councils. The word “communication” was also thrown around often throughout the meeting.

Chris Quinlan — whose resume includes being a board member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Whistler Restaurant Association — spoke about managing business waste better. He said while many businesses now use environmentally-friendly packaging, it is still difficult to dispose of this waste properly.

Psychologist Stephen Milstein talked about importance of discerning “needs” versus “wants” when it comes to the environment, and pledged “to foster collaboration and reach for consensus.”

Ted Milner, on the other hand, acknowledged his strength as a “finance guy,” but said he supports the bed cap, the Protected Area Network (PAN) and organizations like AWARE.

The question period allowed some candidate’s environmental promises to be tested.

Realtor David Sharpe was asked whether he supported Doug Player’s proposal to build a university next to wetlands near Function Junction. While Sharpe never clearly answered the question, he said he would consult environmental scientists before doing anything. He also said “there is a percentage of the Alpha Creek Lands that are developable.”

And mayoral candidate Kristi Wells got a chance to re-explain her position on the bed cap, following her controversial comments at an earlier all candidates meeting that the policy was “archaic”. Her comments were further fleshed out at Monday’s mayoral debate (see related story).

Mayoral candidates Jag Bhandari and Miro Kolvek were missing during the evening, along with council candidates Shane Bennett and Christopher Reading, who announced last week that he is no longer interested in running.  

Chris Vernon-Jarvis was the only school trustee candidate present.

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