Some brief heat during the fourth North Bay Votes 2018 Councillor Candidates debate on Country 600 CKAT this morning.

It happened during a discussion on big ticket items like the Cassellholme rebuild, West Ferris arena replacement, a new police station and the waterfront/wharf area.

Harvey Villneff said he wants to see the existing West Ferris Arena fixed instead of being shut down and replaced.

Jeff Serran later took issue to Villneff’s comments that the West Ferris area is being abandoned.

“It sounds like all the councillors are going one sided,” said Villneff.

“Actually that’s not accurate at all, you’re painting everybody with the same brush,” responded Serran.

“I know there’s work being done there, but…” said Villneff, to which Serran said,“Well, that’s totally opposite to what you just said.”

“I know there’s no banks, I know there’s a lot of seniors there, I know that there’s no building going on there, I know there’s a lot of car dealerships there,” Villneff continued.

“There’s restaurants, there’s still the mall, there is work that needs to be done in West Ferris, no doubt about it,” replied Serran.

As for the overall list of projects, Serran says it needs to be prioritized so the community can live within it’s means.

Dave Mendicino says they need to go over the fine details of each project.

“Until we get in there I don’t know if there’s room for all of them, I know we need to prioritize them. I’m happy to see there are procedures in place now to ensure projects remain on budget and on time,” he said.

Mark King says his first priority is the Cassellholme rebuild, followed by the replacement of West Ferris Arena and wants to hear other candidates declare their priorities too.

“What I’m hearing from a lot of prospective councillors is ‘we can do everything’ and we can’t do everything, we have to prioritize it,” King says.

Richard Cadotte says taxpayers can’t afford more taxes and says he’s against building a new arena.

“If you build it, the cost of it, the expenses, the maintenance, everyone remembers Omischl (Sports Complex) when it was built, no one could afford to play in it, because it was too expensive,” he says.

Another issue discussed was economic development, job retention and attraction.

Cadotte says it’s a complicated issue with most companies wanting to staying the Toronto area.

“We have to ask ourselves, first of all, what do we have that invites them here. Living in the north there’s really not much here. It’s more tourism, a retirement town,” he says.

King says they need help from the province, pointing out he gets a sense from the new Ford government they’re ready to work with the city. He also unveiled a campaign pledge.

“I would be proposing, and this is the first you’ve probably heard of this, that we actually retain a lobbyist at Queen’s Park that works on behalf of the City of North Bay,” he says.

Mendicino says they says they need to re-energize a previous job retention and expansion plan and ignite growth. He also says they already have a great supporter in the Legislature.

“We’ve got the best person at right now at Queen’s Park, we’ve got our MPP Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance at Queen’s Park and I know he fights for Nipissing all the time,” he says.

Serran says they need to work to cut red tape and get out there to spread the word.

We’ve got Invest North Bay that’s helping bring some work in, I think councillors need to be more involved in that process, getting rid of red tape so businesses can open up more easily,” he says.

Villneff says a team approach is needed to attract jobs.

This is one point where I realize council and the mayor needs to work together and find incentives and ways of bringing companies in here,” he says.

Other issues discussed included potential service cuts, transit improvements, and whether the candidates plan on running for any other office in the next four years.


CLICK HERE to listen to the full debate