A cordial affair for the first of five city councillor debates on Country 600 CKAT.

Six candidates discussed issues including attracting and retaining youth, being an inclusive city and a ward system.

One listener question asked what city service the candidates would cut to save taxpayers money.

Arlene Phillips suggests services be reviewed.

“I would like to take a look at what is not being used, or not being used to it’s fullest, or maybe is being duplicated,” she says.

Pointing to duplication, Rene Giroux says there are savings to be found, but it needs a team approach.

“If we’re going to sit at the table and fight and argue and bring our own agendas it’s not going to happen. We will just have another four years of in-fighting,” he says.

Tanya Vrebosch says people don’t want their services cut.

“We have to grow the base of the city, that’s how you’re going to start seeing taxes decreasing because when it comes to cutting services, it’s hard,” she says.

Sylvie Hotte says she’s all about community engagement.

“I think we need to get back to connecting with people and what people are wanting and needing, and allowing them to have a say as much as possible,” she says.

People are telling David Thompson they need to focus on basic necessities.

“Clean water, safe community, garbage pick-up and the roads fixed. The big ticket items are very important, but we have to get back to basics and do those right,” he says.

Mike Anthony says they don’t have to always go for the big ticket solution.

“Often times it seems some of the staff reports put more emphasis on some of those larger costing, the more exciting options. I would say let’s focus sometimes on, simply, the lower price option.” he says.

With a ward system, Thompson supports it.

“I support a hybrid ward system which is five at large and five ward system, plus the mayor. Or you do four and four if you want to reduce council,” he says.

Vrebosch doesn’t think it’s right for North Bay.

“That’s great that it works in Sturgeon, but I don’t think it’ll work here and I don’t want to start pitting us against each other, it should be what’s best for the community, as a whole,” she says.

Anthony researched the idea and changed his mind on it.

“I no longer believe that wards would work as well in smaller cities, so yes wards can work, but so can ‘at large’ communities,” he says.

Phillips wants accountability from those around the council table.

Whatever system we use, our councillors, our mayor has to be accountable to the citizens so it doesn’t matter what system we use, as long as the people that are there are accountable,” she says.

Hotte wants to hear from residents on the issue.

“It might create a little bit of gridlock, at the end of the day I also say lets run a poll. Lets allow the citizens of North Bay to decided what they would prefer to see for the community,” she says.

Giroux says he’s sold on the idea after hearing from people on the issue.

“If the electorate have a contact, someone that they know they can approach, I think that’s a very positive thing, and it’s positive for the people,” he says.

The next mini-debate will be taking place on Country 600 CKAT on Thursday morning, right after the 8 am news, with five more councillor candidates.


CLICK HERE for the full audio of the debate: https://www.country600.com/audio/councillor-mini-debate1/