There was no shortage of questions or listening ears at the region’s first election forum held Monday night in Warfield.
The community hall was filled with 80 or-so residents keen on hearing what the two mayoral candidates had to say, incumbent Diane Langman and Tom Milne, as well as the five councillor candidates.
Incumbents Raymond Masleck and Arlene Parkinson are seeking re-election to one of four councillor seats, alongside newcomers Jaime Gage, Jim Hill and Cyra Yunkws.
The evening opened with the panel of seven giving brief insight into their respective platforms before moderator Terry Van Horn, executive director of the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation, kept the ball rolling with questions that were submitted ahead of time.
Topping the list of queries was how each candidate was going to address aging infrastructure – “old” roads and “crumbling” sewer lines were referred to more than once. Another hot topic was how a new water supply will be either sourced or set up, which is a project last estimated to cost over $4 million.
Incumbents pointed to a Water Feasibility Study carried out earlier this year, and potential outcomes the infrastructure committee is currently studying.
Milne said, ” My solution is that we finish the job that we started … we have a licence to take water from the river so I think we should look at that.”
The event livened up once Van Horn fielded a question from the floor. This one had to do with everyday annoyances that fall into the lap of bylaw enforcement, or lack there-off, anywhere in the village.
“Where do you stand on bylaw enforcement? I mean we are talking about a trailer on our street since April … How do you fix that, if it is fixable? ” Van Horn asked on behalf of the resident. The question drew some laughs, but piqued interest as the floor was silent during responses, which came from the incumbents.
Mayor Diane Langman said bylaw enforcement is at the top of council’s list, then pointed to the fact that the enforcement officer is only employed 8 hours per week.
“Something we would like to look at, is increasing hours,” she began. “And we don’t have a recreational vehicle bylaw, this is something that came up in our last council meeting. To develop a recreational vehicle bylaw so we can better support our bylaw officer to enforce something like that.”
Milne countered that there is already a (parking) bylaw in the books.
Coun. Arlene Parkinson had a rebuttal.
“I just wanted to support Diane (Langman) in the first place,” she replied. “This may sound crass, but I’m a great proponent that if you have toys, put them in your own yard. Secondly, bylaw enforcement is a problem and we are trying very hard to work on it.”
Finally, Coun. Ray Masleck replied that problems with bylaw enforcement came up right after he was elected in a 2017 byelection.
“I also proposed that we create a bit of a defense fund for the village to put in $10,000-or-so every year, and every once in a while we take someone to court with that money and show that we are serious about it. We don’t have to enforce it all the time but if people get the idea that we are willing to, as opposed to we aren’t going to do anything, which is the idea now, I think we can make some progress.”
While getting along with neighbours, or regional collaboration, didn’t resound as loudly as it did during the last election, it did come up.
And, it wouldn’t be a Warfield forum without the “A” word, amalgamation, coming up.
“Obviously regional collaboration is an excellent idea and amalgamation has come up,” said Jaime Gage. “I think in terms of looking deeper into what various municipalities are now doing with it, and for each other, has to be studied more.”
Candidate Jim Hill also replied. “With regional collaboration comes cost. And with cost and limited income that we have for this village, I am hesitant to go forward unless there are some meaningful discussions between the parties.”
The final audience question focused on enacting a safety plan for wildfires.
Cyra Yunkws has experience working with the BC Wildfire Service and said the issue was of particular importance.
“We are surrounded by the forests and the provincial government has just announced funding for FireSmart for small communities,” she said. “So whether or not I am elected, I think that is something worth looking at as a council.”
Advance voting will run Oct. 10 and Oct. 17 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. in council chambers, located within the municipal office on Schofield Highway. On Oct. 20, general voting day, polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.