Candidate Forum

You may know, I routinely write about events in Regina, sharing my notes taken on my blog. Here are notes from tonight during the mayoral forum where one candidate was notably absent from participation in the first major forum of the campaign. Overall it was a very uplifting and interesting evening, with many candidates sharing their optimistic and constructive ideas.

Mitch Diamantopoulos moderated the forum.

{These notes may contain a lot of spelling and format errors, I will go back and fix them as time and suggestions allow.}

Food security:
Liz Brass, Tom Brown, Marian Donnelly all in favor of more community gardens.
Announced Fougere has sent regrets for tonight. The crowd guffaws and chuckles with a few chiding noises.
Jim Elliot: library meetings more public.
Chad Novak also wants open meetings, using tech to stream them. The Mason building issue wasn’t out in the open in time to resolve it earlier.
Meka Okochi: office of the City Auditor, accountable to the citizens. (gets applause)

Regina’s conversion to green efficiency has been very slow:
Tim S. says do more research. Can’t have the vehicles running on biofuels, it doesn’t provide enough torque???
Charles Wiebe says we can just move around less, having complete neighborhoods. Get more people on transit.
Brass: promote cycling, walking, bus systems on main arteries. Plan better, looking at long term implications. Energy efficient homes. People need to get out of their comfort zone.
Taxpayers money for new stadium?
Tom says we should put it off for a year or two, find money for it, and then build it with a roof.
Donnelly says taxpayer money should not be used, and private investment can afford it, and should step up. We could support so much more in energy efficiency first. She wants elected library board.
Answered all other questions in under her time, but was chided by moderator Mitch D.

Jim laid out his criteria which I missed.

Calgary is busy eradicating homelessness. What can be done?
Novak: Renters into home owners. Council can be more involved, doesn’t have to stuff off to the province.
Okochi within first hundred days action based committee. Calgary’s solution is attainable, get private sector behind it with nonprofit.
Tim: “I’m not sure what the definition of affordable housing is.” Free housing? Instead adopt the Montreal strategy of rent control. Tim is being a comedian.

Schools play a key role in neighbourhoods. Curb neglect?
Wiebe: be present in those neighbourhoods. Listen to the parents, and what they have to say. Don’t let schools close down.
Brass: heritage protection, don’t neglect the buildings. Concerned about super-schools, “they increase crime and drug use, and bullying!” “There’s hope!”
Brown: very interested in school.

Consensus model, or thoughtful opposition?
Donnelly: “Yes. We need new ideas.”
Elliot: yes. Council should be able to explain why their position is the best. Shake up our supposed representative democracy
Novak: proud for standing up to the council and getting kicked out. “Ten yes men and a mayor”. “I’d welcome other Councillors to have opposing views”.

Compact city?
Okochi: common sense, keep Regina compact where the infrastructure already is in place.
Remove red tape that prevents a more compact city.
Tim S.: thinks we should sprawl out as much as we can, the bylaws encroach on our Charter rights anyway. Sky is the limit. Build nightclubs or whatever.
Wiebe: build compact for efficiency. If you don’t sprawl, the “land barons will be disappointed”. “That’s the downside.”
transit?
Brass: express buses, jitneys, cycling growing, need to feel safe. Connect corridors.
Brown: same.
Donnelly: transit is “appalling” in the shape it is in to use. Woman behind me snorts, “what does she know, she’s not been on a bus in years.”

Arts and culture. Prov and fed funding is declining.
Jim: I missed his first point.
Infrastructure support to get artists able to step up to the next level.
Novak: important part of a well rounded community. Neighbourhoods parties for art on I love Regina day
Okochi:
City Hall main floor a creative lively place, conversion. Balkwell… something something.
Pensions:
Tim S. $290M basically a theft, not a shortfall.
Wiebe: “broad trend of letting down working people” at the end of the day they aren’t getting what they thought they would.
Brass: at union meetings, some people are not able to speak English, and don’t understand the deducations, and cry about union deductions which is putting them out of their homes??

Closing statements

Brown: “roof ready” garage? No, it just has a roof to start with. Thinks Brad Wall coined the term to cover his butt.

Donnelly: reading a prepared statement too fast for me to type it. Complete neighbourhoods. Vision statement. Transparent, and accountable, innovative ways of working with other government. Green. Encourage our next generation and give them reasons to stay here.

Elliot: housing for all, families and neighbourhoods first. Open government. No one left behind. Housing first: 2000 nothing done on homeless plan then. Get that plan underway! Double para transit, it is deplorable stranding people.
Spent many hours and years on current council how it has not gone in the direction he’d want to proceed. Thinks on a Holistic, and ecological way. Energy and food security.

Novak: CMA, critical thinker. Stadium clarification: petition holders are not anti stadium. Wants citizens to have a say, knows there are other options, will stop the spending on it now. Warns people of misinformation campaign run by unnamed sources.

Okochi: election about a council that respects citizens as the decision makers. Build a city good not just for us, but our children and grandchildren. Regina needs a new direction, new thinking. “Long term thinking, engagement from citizens”. “Whether for the stadium or not,be all love this city!”

Tim, asks if we should borrow to get out of debt. Not a hand raised to agree. It was awesome.
Need an audit to see if books have been cooked.

Wiebe: farmers don’t get enough respect, they should be honoured on a flag at City Hall.
We have to be a respectful team. Wants Councillors to be more respectful of each other??

Brass: Nearing 0% vacancy, which will end dreams in Regina. Incentives for developers. Energy efficient entry level housing, thinks rental space will free up as people buy homes.

Then citizens met with council candidates and others at our tables.

after my YouTube city profile video

ADDED:

I was grilled by one resident as to the status of my rapport with First Nations. On the hot seat, I admit I was scrambling to think of everything I could do at the municipal level to assist First Nations people in attaining a more equitable footing in our city. (I’ve previously considered the bigger picture, nationally and provincially, but it’s different when someone is looking for details down to a neighbourhood level.) From bursaries to attend FNUniv, to ensuring hiring at City Hall is done fairly if there are any problems now, to improving transit to and from work and school. I’m not one to hide from the issues, and frankly don’t consider race when determining how I interact with someone, I treat everyone equitably. So it is challenging to be forced to consider any shortcomings or gaps in my personal experience.

Another resident was adamant that they could not support me if I would not simply vote yes to any expense required to build a new stadium. I feel there are more pressing issues in the city, although I do have plans to ensure the Riders will have a stadium to play in, in Regina (whether it means renovating Taylor Field, or building new, depending on the election result and private funding available). Council needs to be ensuring that record levels of debt are not undertaken based on feelings of Rider Pride alone, there has to be a sound financial plan.

Most other residents who spoke to me seemed pleased with my responses on affordable housing, development of properties being subsidized to make rental unit construction pick up, and various transit and environmental sustainability points. I had an excellent time meeting people, and look forward to future forums. There’s one on the UofR campus coming up in October, for instance.

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About John Klein

My full time blog is at AbandonedStuff.com My personal site devoted to my Regina politics work is at JohnKlein.ca