News » Whistler

Pemberton all candidates meeting draws standing room only crowd

"I’m sorry I blew up a little, but I had a right to."

— Mark Blundell



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While Burleson’s impassioned speech about helping all children meet higher academic standards came from a parental point of view, fellow trustee candidate David Walden’s speech focused on his past experience in education, as a teacher and administrator.

For the most part, opening remarks were predictable reiterations of community issues accompanied with promises to address them without clearly offering solutions. However, it was clear from audience reaction that VVLA mayoralty candidate Sturdy and slate-mates Helmer and LeBlanc were the crowd favourites.

The three issues that dominated the question period were development, boundary expansion and recreation. Ultimately, recreation came out on top, with many of the questions pertaining to past community recreation studies as to the upcoming referendum to borrow $6.7 million to create a dry facility, a facility similar to the one struck down earlier this year.

Support for the referendum was almost unanimous among the candidates, with Hunter the lone voice of dissension. Hunter said he would be opposing the referendum because he felt the proposed facility represented a loss of services, namely a gymnasium and playing fields that are part of the existing community centre.

Faced with a question pertaining to how the proposed new facility addressed the issues that led to an 800-signature counter-petition this past spring, Gimse and Mark Blundell discredited the counter-petition. Both politicians questioned its validity rather than acknowledging it as indicative of the public’s wish for either an ice arena or swimming pool.

With their past records a source of much of the questioning, the two incumbents appeared defensive.

Rising to add to a question addressed by opponent Alan LeBlanc on the issue of the community’s waste disposal plans, Gimse turned to LeBlanc and said "It’s nice to see you attended the last meeting." That was closely followed by a remark aimed at LeBlanc’s knowledge of independent power projects, dismissing him as just another contractor who had worked on IPPs.

Local businessman Rick May expressed his dismay with Gimse’s shots at LeBlanc. "Shame, shame on you Susie," he said upon taking the mic, a comment that was met with audience support.

Blundell saved his negative remarks for the end of the evening, after approximately half the audience had dispersed during the preceding 10-minute intermission. Blundell began his closing remarks by accusing his opponents of espousing niceties and platitudes instead of offering substance. Then he focused his attention on the VVLA.

"A slate is a slate is slate! And no dictionary definition charges that," said Blundell, alluding to VVLA candidate David Mackenzie’s earlier reading of the Oxford dictionary definition of the term.

"I’m for democracy. I’m your independent candidate. I’ll be fighting for you," he continued.