Leadership styles for sale
Wednesday night saw a packed house of over 100 attendees listening to Peterborough’s mayoral candidates give their views on a host of hot topics.
Setting this debate apart from many others, candidates address questions regarding very specific issues: homeownership, plans for a casino, and job creation.
In attendance were Alan Wilson, Tom Young, Daryl Bennett, Patti Peeters, and Maryam Monsef (pictured left-to-right above). Terry LeBlanc was the only candidate absent from the debate.
The format of the evening saw the five candidates speak to four issues: legal accessory apartments, property taxes, transportation plans, and high paying jobs.
A large part of the evening was devoted to citizen questions, which elicited some interesting off the cuff responses.
The realty questions showed a passion for income equality and the promotion for home ownership from Wilson, Young, Peeters and Monsef. These four expressed a desire to create more affordable housing in the city.
Bennett spent his time stressing current councils move toward legalizing duplexes and the importance of maintaining single dwelling homes.
Transportation questions turned to a debate of the current City Council’s priorities. Wilson and Bennett acknowledged that citizens have expressed a need for more efficient arterial roads from the North to the South of the city.
Young, Peeters and Monsef questioned the need for new roads when current roads need repair and alternative methods (public transportation, cycling, walkways, etc.) deserve more consideration.
The recurring question of jobs was brought up again at this debate.
Wilson stressed that the city should give incentive to local businesses to stimulate job growth, and proposed an arrangement with the township of Cavan-Monaghan to trade industrial land for city services.
Bennett rebutted this point, saying that city services are expensive and carefully calculated for the city’s needs and budget.
On the other hand, Young suggested that the climate for work in Peterborough must change, “There is work out there to be done, but there are not enough people who want to pay for them … Volunteering does not pay the rent or put groceries on the table.”
Peeters and Monsef were highly critical of the placement of economic development responsibility outside of City Hall in the GPAEDC. Both would like to see development management placed back in City Hall completed in a guided and fiscally responsible way.
Monsef would like to see business retention and attraction to Peterborough, by stimulating collaboration, utilizing post-secondary graduates, and drawing new consumers to the city.
Questions of the casino were brought up several times.
This issue has been controversial since 2012, when Peterborough was listed as one of OLG’s potential sites for a new casino.
The City expressed support for the casino without appropriate consideration of the community’s needs, says No Casino Peterborough. Representatives of this organization challenged the candidates on their positions for the casino.
Overwhelmingly candidates responded to the issue negatively. Patti Peeters spoke to the negative consequences of a casino that would be felt by the city for generations. All candidates supported alternative modes of development.
However, incumbent Mayoral Darryl Bennett stressed that the benefits of the casino would be seen in off shooting businesses like hotels. These economic gains in dependent businesses, he said, would be felt for generations.
The evening was characterized by lively yet polite debate. Audience members listened attentively and respectfully to all candidates and in turn, the candidates addressed each other in the spirit of camaraderie. The overall tone was hopeful but critical for the city.
As Young articulated: “There is nothing wrong with Peterborough that cannot be fixed by what’s right with Peterborough.”