Continuing with our 2014 Area ‘H’ election coverage of the three candidates for a director to represent us, here is a report from the Princeton Chamber of Commerce All Candidates forum held October 29.
Overall it was less engaging than the one here, due mostly to the strict rules and format which prevented real conversation with the candidates. Nevertheless, it was informative and offered us an important source of additional information about the candidates.
The meeting started with the usual self introductions of the candidates. Jamie Frandsen is originally from North Vancouver and has been visiting the area since he was 10. He sees this now as an opportunity to get involved with the community. Charles Weber spent 25 years teaching and has been involved with farming for many years. Him and his wife came to Princeton 13 years ago. Many also know him in this area because of his involvement with community groups and the Princeton Pool. Bob Coyne is also a farmer, but has worked as a mechanic for years before. Also worked for the Town of Princeton and operated a number of businesses in this area. His family goes back some generations here.
The presentation continued with more platform related talk.
Frandsen says he is anti fracking, an environmentalist, and is concerned about the hospital and getting doctors.
Coyne’s first concern is that everyone in Area ‘H’ gets represented. Putting Community forest money to good use is another issue and he would like to consult with the communities about that. He thinks that in some cases it could be used as seed money for larger projects. His view of the hospital and doctor situation starts with an understanding that “healthcare is ever evolving”. He will be stepping down from his presidency of the China Ridge Trails Society so as to avoid conflict of interest if he is elected.
Weber points out that there are all sorts of opportunities for young people such as sports and Highland Dancing. However, he mainly wants to promote growth by increasing the population. “Promote, promote, promote” he says. He suggests that when he first moved to this town it was more active. “We want to bring that back”. Regarding health care, he thinks it’s time for “hard bargaining, hard negotiation” with IHA (Interior Health).
The forum went on to questions from the floor. Ed Staples asked:
What is the most important issue facing health care here?
Weber said that “doctors and nurses are most important”. “Why are they leaving? We need to ask them. We need to grow this community”. He then reiterated his earlier solution “We need to do hard bargaining with IHA and advocate for our community”. Coyne was more nuanced, suggesting that we need sustainable staff on all levels. “The whole process needs to be managed”. Frandsen sees the retention problem as a competition with other communities. He also mentioned the idea of an expanded facility down the road and things like transportation for older people and education on how to avoid falls and such.
A question about the Library was raised. Its funding will apparently be cut back, and the fact that Area ‘H’ does not pay taxes toward the library was questioned. (Residents currently pay $75 for an adult library card instead of a general tax. Ed.) Frandsen said “it sounds right to pay and share”. Weber said “more young people come out of Area ‘H’ than come out of the community”. Coyne seemed to understand the history of the issue when he said “Princeton Fringe would say yes in a heartbeat. Those in Eastgate, who are all going to vote, will say no”. “It’s a very good question for discussion among the communities”.
The healthcare issue then came back to the discussion. Weber insisted that “we need amenities”. Coyne suggested that times are different and it’s not the same situation that it used to be: “I don’t have the answers.” Frandsen enhanced his earlier statement with, “we just need to get past that first hurdle”. “We need to get ahead of those other communities”.
Next question from the public was:
Do you support an aquatic centre?
Coyne: “It’s a big question”. “People are still very emotional from the last time”. He recognizes the reality that we are left with when he says “People are not willing to participate at this time”. Nevertheless, he emphasizes a democratic process and says “I would have to meet with the communities”.
Frandsen had no doubts: “I stand 100% behind it. We need a facility that is family friendly, and is top notch”.
Weber, perhaps because of his own colourful involvement, described the issue in a more colourful manner. “It’s a swamp”. He went on: “(We need to) find out our costs out front … We can work something out”. “We don’t need to get split”. “(we can) rebuild that trust”.
The next topic brought consensus among the candidates.
What is your opinion on fracking?
Frandsen: “100% against” “We have so many other sources of energy … “this is very clear cut”.
Weber: “No, No, and No . . . and No!”
Coyne: “emphatic No!”
How will you distinguish yourself from your illustrious predecessor?
Weber: “We want to go in a slightly different direction, but Brad has done a good job with communities”. (I want) “More role for government, APC, etc. . . . expand governance role and use that to make decisions”. “Take it to the next level”.
Coyne: “That’s a rather distasteful question”. He preferred instead to bring greater recognition to what has actually been done and sees the current direction as positive, saying “Thank you very much Brad!” “My goal is to continue on the work that Brad has done”.
Frandsen: “You’re looking at a fresh face”. “No baggage”.
Do you have a web site?
Coyne: Yes, www.bobcoyne.ca (direct contact on there)
Frandsen: firstname.lastname@example.org No site.
Weber: email@example.com No site. “work in progress … it’s coming”.
Question from Linda Allison: What is your position on maintaining thriving agricultural lands in our area?
Frandsen: “leave it there” this is the backbone of our area”.
Weber: “We need to bring younger people into it”.
Coyne: “I’ve grown up on farms”. “It (agricultural land) comes up all the time when we talk about development”. “Agriculture is changing”.
Weber: “Growth. We need to grow”. “If we get some growth, the rest will follow”. He used the words “positive” and “exciting” “We need strong presence in Penticton … Strong presence with IHA”.
Frandsen: (quoting recent article) “47 percent of Vancouverites are considering moving out of the city”. “If we could get some of that money . . .Doctors will stay here”. As director “I’ll hit the pavement, running”.
Coyne: “Thank you all for coming out”. “Thank you to the other candidates for running”. “Vote with a clear conscience – vote nov. 15”.
Someone asked if the Princeton Town Hall sign on Bridge Street could advertise the location of the voting poll, which is at Riverside this election. Many people would think voting is at the Legion where it has been before. Mayor Frank Armitage said “I’ll look into it in the morning”. §