If laughs counted as votes, Antonio Farinha would be a front runner for Parksville mayor.
“To attract people to Parksville, young people and all that, turn a part of the beach down there into a nudist beach,” mayoral candidate Farinha suggested at the all-candidates debate hosted by the Craig Bay Residents Association.
“The world is run by sex,” said Farinha, whose sole intent in running for office is to raise awareness about what he considers a “conspiracy,” involving all levels of government, to allow people to live on formerly public land (Surfside RV Resort) on Parksville Beach.
The audience of approximately 100 burst out laughing, and the comment drew the loudest applause of the night. The all-candidates debate took place Thursday night exclusively for Craig Bay residents at the Craig Bay Beach House.
CBRA president Chris Chilton moderated the event which brought forward Parksville’s four mayoral and 14 council candidates. The mayoral and council candidates debated separately. The floor was open to questions for mayoral candidates.
Bill Neufeld, one of two current Parksville councillors running for mayor, said fiscal responsibility was top of mind.
Neufeld said the city should not be taking on projects such as social housing.
“What is the mandate of municipalities?” he asked the crowd rhetorically. “It’s to provide water, roads, sewer, lighting — basically safety and security issues.”
Neufeld said the city “should be saying no we can’t afford to do that” to projects outside their mandate.
However, Marc Lefebvre, also a current city councillor running for mayor, disagreed.
“There are kids going to school who didn’t have breakfast and have no money for lunch,” said Lefebvre. “What are we supposed to do? Call the provincial and federal government? Yes, it’s their responsibility but we have to do this in an organized way and in the meantime the kids got to eat.”
Lefebvre said “this is 2014 and it’s Canada,” pledging his support to organizations such as the Salvation Army and SOS.
Lefebvre added that the City of Parksville is in “good financial shape,” something he said he’d take some credit for as a councillor of 12 years.
Asked about development, mayoral candidate Dallas Collis said economic growth is both “the engine and the problem.”
“Because we live on a finite planet we cannot continue to grow,” he told the crowd emphatically, waving his hands in the air with passion. “The stresses are happening everywhere, in the short term buying things is what moves us forward … if you spend it, it (the economy) rises and grows, we are caught in a drug addiction that is now hurting the entire planet and it will harm our children and grandchildren.”
Collis said “we’re the end generation who’s lived off the fat of capitalism, we can’t continue growing, we must develop a cooperative way of living democratically and locally — there is no sustainable growth, the words are silly.”
Farinha asked voters to open their eyes in this election, which he said includes “masters in the art of deceit.”
“Does anybody on council have any brains?” he asked. “Any dummy can run… look at me, I’m running for mayor!”
The room fell into hysteria and loud claps from fellow candidates and Craig Bay constituents alike.