Election 2014: All-candidates meeting hosted by local non-profits draws crowd

Candidates for council seats asked about environment, arts and culture and social services

An all candidates meeting drew crowds to city hall on Tuesday.

An all candidates meeting drew crowds to city hall on Tuesday.

Homelessness, transit and the environment were among topics discussed during an all-candidates meeting Tuesday evening, which drew about 300 people to Matsqui Centennial Auditorium to hear the opinions of 29 council hopefuls.

The event was organized by local non-profits, including Abbotsford Community Services, the United Way of the Fraser Valley, the Abbotsford Community Foundation, the Abbotsford Arts Council, Women’s Resource Society of Fraser Valley, MSA Museum Society, The Reach Gallery Museum and the Fraser Valley Conservancy.

Some candidates were asked about the city’s decision to end its waste management agreement with Metro Vancouver and what Abbotsford should do with its garbage.

Lyle Caldwell said he thinks Metro’s plan to build a new garbage incinerator is “pretty much dead” after the province rejected Metro’s proposed bylaw 280, which opponents said was used to justify the incinerator. He said people need to be educated about composting and encourage higher diversion, while the rest of waste goes to transfer stations.

Vince Dimanno said with a new waste removal contract, the city needs to think about its neighbours.

“We also don’t want to be exporting our garbage to the United States or to the Interior, so comprehensive recycling programs are great, but we also need to look at who we are contracting our garbage removal to and where that garbage is going.”

Candidates were asked how to assist with bus service issues and reducing pollution due to car use.

Hank Roos said that buses are only going to be used if the city develops in a way that buses are convenient.

“You can’t just put more buses on the road, you have to plan so that people can actually do without their automobile.”

Patricia Ross said that what is also needed is less-polluting buses, such as hybrids or those that use liquified natural gas.

Ken Wushcke said Abbotsford is not planning well for transit, maintaining that development is taking place ahead of transit, and cited the lack of direct bus service from some areas to destinations like Highstreet, where driving takes a fraction of the time.

“We have to plan our development in conjunction with development, not after the fact.”

When asked about supporting arts and culture, Ward Draper said there is a lack of venues for youth, for music in particular, and “they need a space to perform and to bring us the gifts they have.”

Candidates were asked about the high cost of child care and how they would assist working families with the issue.

Rick Barkwell cited the importance of creating growth in the technology sector in the city, as employment in that sector can help with home-based work hours.

Some candidates were asked about how to address homelessness in Abbotsford.

Daljit Sidhu said people on the streets need assistance and the city needs affordable homes. He added that the city needs a temporary shelter now, as currently sitting outside in the rain is not a good option for the homeless.

Doug Rempel said he has worked with Habitat for Humanity for 12 years and has partnered with the city in the past to provide affordable housing. He said Habitat is also assisting by providing supplies to the Dignity Village project – a proposal to build cabins to house the homeless on a plot of land on Valley Road.

“I would like to pressure the provincial and federal governments for funding, but I also want to engage with the organizations that do the job well already.”

Ross Siemens said it is a complex issue and the city needs to start with an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team to meet with those on the streets and assess their needs. He said the city needs a housing-first project, adding that the ACS housing proposal, which was rejected by council in February, should have already ground broken. He added that the Dignity Village proposal has a lot of merit.

After answering questions prepared by the organizers, the floor was opened for audience questions.

Tina Stewart was the focus of many queries, regarding her opposition to the ACS housing proposal, her thoughts on how to address homelessness and her plans to hold her position as the executive director of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) if elected to council.

Stewart said she believes all homeless people deserve an equal opportunity to get off the streets. She explained that she has family members who are addicts and said she strongly believes we need detox in Abbotsford.

Stewart said that she opposed the ACS proposal, both as the executive director and personally, as she objected to its placement in the downtown C7 zone – which specifically prohibits supportive housing use.

She also explained that she is an employee of the ADBA, which doesn’t own a business or property.

The only council hopeful absent from the panel of candidates was Tim Felger, who sat in the audience and asked a question.

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read