Squamish mayoral candidates had their first
chance to square off this week in an almost farcical showdown that marked the
beginning of the Chamber of Commerce’s all candidates’ debate.
In their first debate appearances so far,
mayoral candidates John Erickson and Terrill Patterson joined Greg Gardner for
a half hour debate that involved props, ramblings and eruptions of laughter
from an audience of medium size.
Though hard to follow, Erickson, who at one
point challenged someone “to step outside,” seemed most concerned with the
Oceanfront, a development initiative he’s said is fiscally disastrous thanks to
the doings of Squamish New Directions.
As for Patterson, he spoke against tax hikes,
slate politics and providing services for the homeless.
“You provide all these services for them, and
then you make it comfortable to move in,” he said. “I’d give them a kick in the
rear and tell them to get out of here.”
Gardner stuck to his message of better
communication between the district and the public, as well as the establishment
of employment lands to fend off the prospect of becoming a bedroom community.
With the mayoral debate out of the way,
council candidates took to the stage, with only Ron Bahm absent. Perhaps in an
effort to offset the laughter of Patterson’s homelessness response, Donna Billy
used her opening remarks to comment on her work with the addiction and homeless
communities in Squamish.
“There’s another world after 12 a.m.,” she
said. “I know those issues.”
Paul Lalli used his opening two minutes to
attack the Regional Growth Strategy, something he would do again in council
chambers the next evening. “We do not and should not allow outsiders to make
decisions for us,” he said.
Larry McLennan made a pledge during his
introduction, promising to scale back council remuneration by 10 per cent for
Aside from that, the debate stuck to the
themes of its predecessors. Garibaldi at Squamish was denounced by some of the
18 candidates, endorsed by others, especially Jeff McKenzie, and shrugged at by
still others, with the latter group saying too much information was pending.
The downtown was debated, as were bike lanes,
recycling, communication with Squamish Nation, and the Adventure Centre. On
that note, one member of the public asked which candidates would “consider
disposing” of the Adventure Centre in favour of a similar facility downtown.
His wording allowed several candidates to make affirmative answers, while only
a few — David Clarkson, Catherine Jackson, McLennan, McKenzie, Doug Race,
Alan Forsythe, Deb McBride, Lalli and Patricia Heintzman — offered a
definitive answer in the negative.
By the time the debate was over, less than a fraction of the original audience remained.