Out of two all-candidates forums in Deep Bay/Bowser, zero were able to get all the candidates in one room.
The civic election is slated for Saturday and two people are running for the Regional District of Nanaimo director position.
On Nov. 4, the Mapleguard Ratepayers’ Association hosted a forum inviting incumbent director Bill Veenhof and newcomer candidate Donald Mussell. But Veenhof declined the invitation stating he believes the MRA is a “non-neutral” organization.
On Nov. 8 the Lighthouse Country Business Association hosted a second forum, again inviting both RDN candidates. However, this time Mussell did not show up making it another one-man show.
Asked why he didn’t attend, Mussell told The NEWS Saturday afternoon “it was kind of insulting to my intelligence.”
Mussell said the list of questions he received prior to Saturday’s forum from the LCBA “seemed irrelevant” to the issues he believes are facing the community.
The NEWS obtained the list which included questions about signage and billboards, access to high speed internet in Spider Lake, the decline of volunteerism and job creation.
Mussell said he would have preferred to see questions about the seaweed harvest, medical marijuana, transit and affordable housing — issues which were all brought up at Saturday’s forum by residents in the audience.
Veenhof said he didn’t think the attendance pattern at the all-candidates debates signaled a polarized community, but “polarized voices in the community.”
As Veenhof was the only candidate at Saturday’s meeting, it was more informative than argumentative.
The incumbent answered questions from moderator Chris Jiggins and took questions from the audience of approximately 50 residents at the Lighthouse Community Hall.
Veenhof said road signage has been a “thorny” issue with the Ministry of Transportation. He said he would look into what the regional district can do in terms of “relaxing bylaws to reflect the needs of our community.”
He promised to go after federal infrastructure funding to address the lack of quality internet connections in Spider Lake, which he said have “economic consequences” for businesses in the area.
In terms of job creation, Veenhof said he would continue to support promoting and protecting the shellfish industry.
Asked about sending a letter to Health Canada regarding medical marijuana, he said “the challenge I have is that if I convene a meeting and write a letter (to Health Canada), well the point is the letter won’t change a thing so all I would be doing is lying to you.”
Veenhof said the seaweed harvest “consumed” his first term in office but he’s pleased the Ministry of Agriculture is supporting a research study conducted by the VIU Deep Bay Marine Field Station — something he helped move forward. Asked if he would change the official community plan, Veenhof said “no, we (the community) will.”