KAMLOOPS VOTES: Would-be mayors square off
Forget the parkade or property taxes, it was another P word that dominated the media-sponsored mayoral debate — pot.
Tuesday night’s (Nov. 8) debate started with Peter Milobar facing a barrage of questions from members of the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society, who quizzed the mayor over last week’s raid and closure of the group’s office in North Kamloops.
Milobar said he didn’t have an issue with people being prescribed medical marijuana, but noted the city does not direct the RCMP or have control over federal drug laws.
As for the do-not occupy order on the group’s office, Milobar said the city needs to verify the building is safe before people can return.
It was at times a wild and tense 45-minute debate as the four Kamloops mayoral candidates — Milobar, Dieter Dudy, Brian Alexander and Gordon Chow — fielded questions from the audience of more than 600 at Thompson Rivers University’s Grand Hall.
Milobar also defended the city’s transit system and council’s spending habits, which include the construction of the Valleyview interchange and bike path that went over budget.
Milobar pointed out any increase to bus service is up to the province and BC Transit, adding the current council has never refused additional hours of service offered by the Crown corporation.
Milobar also argued, despite the escalating costs of the interchange, many other projects in the city have been carried out under budget.
Meanwhile, Dudy discussed his idea to create a year-round farmers’ market by building a facility that could be used in the winter and summer.
He also noted his support for a moratorium on the installation of smart meters.
When asked about the escalating tax burden on residents over the years, Dudy suggested the only way to control tax increases is to curb spending or cut programs.
He said he would rather take a prudent look at spending.
The two mayoral frontrunners were asked what they believed was the top priority for Kamloops in the next five years.
Milobar pointed to securing funding and realizing the implementation of Royal Inland Hospital’s master site plan, while Dudy said it would be how the city survives the global economic climate.
The debate’s oddest moment belonged to Alexander, who admitted to being a marijuana user and asked how many in the audience, by a show of hands, had never smoked pot.
The majority of hands remained down.
“The war on drugs is failing,” Alexander said.
Alexander defended his recent legal troubles when asked how he could be taken seriously as a candidate.
He said he was standing up for what he believed in and the truth about his two run-ins with the law will eventually come out.
Alexander didn’t go into specific detail about his two court cases, which stem from traffic stops earlier this year.
“I’d rather die standing up then live on my knees,” he said.
During his opening remarks, Chow said he wants to get rid of the Interior Health Authority and replace it with a hospital board.
He also criticized the creation of a law school at Thompson Rivers University, arguing other areas of learning should be pursued.
Though the debate received positive reviews from many in attendance, the event ended on a dark note.
As Milobar was leaving the debate hall with his family, someone from the crowd shouted at the mayor they hoped he gets cancer and dies.