There were no “hot button” issues discussed during last Wednesday’s all candidate’s forum in Keremeos.
Most of the questions asked pertained to specific candidate platforms rather than one overriding issue.
One resident questioned the school trustee candidates about the practice of having retired teachers rehired for on call lists as opposed to using new teachers. For the most part, the candidates agreed that both scenarios – the use of retirees and new, young teachers – has positive elements to them, providing balance and equal opportunity.
An Area “G” resident of Olalla commented that the director (Elef Christensen) “hadn’t shown up for three years,” asking candidate Angelique Wood if she would show up.
A Keremeos resident asked the councillor and mayor candidates a hypothetical question as to how they would vote on an issue that had drawn a full gallery of residents who were opposed. Councillors for the most part qualified their answers, replying that it would depend on the issue.
“Council tries to find a balance between the interest of a few and those of the community,” answered mayorality candidate Bauer. The resident was referring to a long standing issue on Tenth Avenue, and in further discussion former councillor Jeremy Evans observed that council had been dealing faithfully with the problem for years, and had been unable to satisfy the resident.
“It sounds like a special interest issue,” he said definitively to a scattering of applause.
Glenn Goguen was asked about his campaign platform. He suggested that the village needed a senior festival, a youth centre, an extra day of operation at the Keremeos landfill, downtown enhancements, a truck bypass, and stop signs on village streets to be located on east – west roads.
“How do you propose to pay for this?” he was asked, to which he replied, “ A senior festival wouldn’t cost much. A youth centre is really important – it would keep youth occupied. It could be located in the rec centre. Opening the dump for a few hours on another day could be paid for by a fee charged at the gate.” He also felt that trucks could be detoured around the Keremeos downtown by signage at the bypass.
A question to Area “B” candidates asked how each one would move forward with the fledgling Official Community Plan.
Lee McFadyen promised to follow in outgoing director George Hanson’s footsteps, and hold a referendum on the final version.
Colleen Christensen called it a very important issue in Area “B,” saying she would continue with the process.
“It’s very important that the OCP be a true vision of Area “B,” she said.
George Bush questioned the process, commenting on the prospect of “Sixteen people deciding what people can or cannot do with their land.”
The inevitable question regarding councillors’ feelings on the farmworkers campground issue was aimed at village council.
Arlene Arlow noted that two factions were part of the issue – transients and workers. She claimed that it would take a year for the campground society to get permitted at a new location.
Dave Stein noted that present council was moving in the right direction, and moving the site to Cawston was a good choice.
Charlene Cowling commented that the regional district was getting involved and would be helping out with what finances they could make available. Crown land was also being obtained for the new site.
Jeremy Evans saw the campground as a good idea, adding that it shouldn’t cost the Keremeos taxpayer anything – a comment that elicited a smattering of applause.
“We (the village) are facilitating this,” he said.
Frank Kennedy noted that he had been trying to start a dialogue about the subject.
“I’m disgusted with how we treat these farmworkers,” he said “We need to think out of the box – we should create a school for these people and teach them how to farm properly – we need these people.”
A second question regarding the lack of showers in the rec centre was answered by Charlene Cowling, who replied that the building was constructed 30 years ago and did not have plumbing for showers.
Kennedy also answered the question, stating that it was “disgraceful that we don’t have the ability to get these kids clean.” As several catcalls could be heard from the audience, he added derisively, “Think about it – think – they work with pesticides.
The town made us think they are dirty people,” he finished, as moderator Carroll MacLean asked that only the question asked be addressed.
Another question directed at Kennedy asked how he proposed to “super educate” our kids.
“It requires a little different, out of the box thinking,” he answered, “we need to infuse business with schooling. Schools are used like penitentaries.”
A question regarding excessive signage in the area was noted to be more of an issue outside the village.
Elef Christensen was asked how he proposed to eliminate Medical Services premiums for seniors, something he alluded to in his opening remarks. He responded that a request was being put forward through a resolution with the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Another question asking what enhancements candidates would advocate was answered by Kennedy, who sarcastically asked Mayor Despot where the industrial park was.
“We need to vote all these guys out and create a 100 per cent green industrial park. Vote new people in and old people out and there will be prosperous times ahead,” he said.
A question regarding the importance of Similkameen water, which was answered without controversy ended the evening’s audience input. The candidates were then given a three minute period to wrap up before the lengthy meeting concluded.