At the candidates' forum Wednesday night in Parksville

Candidates square off in Parksville byelection forum

About 150 people filled Ballenas' Whalebone Theatre for the event on Wednesday night

Four of the five candidates in the Oct. 22 Parksville byelection took part in an all-candidates forum at Ballenas Secondary Oct. 5.

Moderated by PQB News Editor John Harding, the candidates gave prepared opening and closing statements and answered 15 questions submitted to The NEWS and from the packed audience.

Kim Burden, Rick Honaizer (who did not attend), Doug O’Brien, Carrie Powell-Davidson and Paul Reitsma are campaigning to replace Al Greir for the second half of the four year term.

Powell-Davidson addressed what one of the evening’s themes in her opening remarks, saying she resigned from her job with the Parksville Museum to have the time avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest.

“The Parksville Museum is a city owned park and I felt that was a conflict of interest,” she said.

An audience member later asked all the candidates how they would deal with possible conflicts of interest with their work and there was a chuckle when Burden was asked to go first.

“There’s a surprise,” he quipped pointing out he “works with” (is executive director of) the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce. He explained that the chamber has contracts to work with the city and that he’s done the research, knows the laws, has spoken to other politicians in similar positions and will excuse himself from any discussion or votes that would be a conflict.

O’Brien and Reitsma both said they are retired and don’t expect any conflicts but if things come up, like something involving property they own, they will excuse themselves from the discussion.

The other, stronger theme running through the evening was questions around development, affordable housing and homelessness.

Responses to a question about how they would deal with vacant properties were illistrative of the evening. Reitsma said he would work with the owners and would like to see the properties developed, singling out the empty lot between city hall and the fire hall.

O’Brien said it was an issue of low market demand that he would adress by working on the economy. Powell-Davidson said the city hall lot might make good parking, which she has heard complaints about a shortage of.

Burden said many of the vacant lots have complicated issues that make them hard to develop and turned to the housing issue a lack of rentals.

For more details on the candidates, including contact information check under the “election” tab on the right of the city’s web page, at www.parksville.ca/cms.asp?wpID=394

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