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Tri-City mayors face business crowd at Chamber BBQ a month before election

Five Tri-City mayors were scheduled to speak at the annual Mayors’ Barbecue hosted last night (Sept. 7) by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce.

Five Tri-City mayors were scheduled to speak at the annual Mayors’ Barbecue hosted last night (Sept. 7) by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce (TCCC).

But only three were on stage for the business event, held at the Riverside Community Church in Port Coquitlam — a month before the civic election.

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov, who is not running for re-election, excused himself from the gathering for family reasons, while Anmore Mayor John McEwen was travelling and got stuck in connecting airports on the way home.

Still, about 100 leaders — a third of them running for public office in the Oct. 15 race — heard from Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West and Belcarra Mayor Jamie Ross on topics that ranged from housing affordability and supply chain challenges to mental health services and homelessness.

The crowd, which included Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon, former PoCo mayor Greg Moore and SHARE CEO Claire MacLean, also heard about how the region is working together to deliver programs.

Moderated by Chamber vice-chair Jenifer Wright, general manager of the Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club, the event also gave the attendees a chance to pose live questions to the three mayors.

However, the trio steered clear of a question to offer advice to the next Port Moody council as the incumbent team has often sparred in public forums.

"I don't want to criticize another council," Stewart said, noting most votes in Coquitlam are "unanimous because we work to find consensus."

Ross, who was elected in a byelection last January after the mayor quit, said his village council works to build trust, while West said his council laid the groundwork early to set the path for the municipality’s success this term.

West, who last year openly criticized Coun. Laura Dupont after the B.C. Supreme Court upheld the city's censure against her, said respect for fellow councillors is key, and he recommended that elected officials not to hold a grudge.

"If a vote doesn't go your way, that's OK," he said. "That’s just the way it goes. That’s democracy."

Asked if the mayors would be willing for their municipalities to hire people with developmental disabilities, especially to address the labour shortage, all three were receptive.

"We hope people who work for the city look like the city," West said.

Meanwhile, the TCCC will host three all-candidates' meetings before the Oct. 15 election (no charge for entry):

  • • Coquitlam = Sept. 22, Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way) at 7 p.m.
  • • Port Moody = Sept. 28, Inlet Theatre (inside Port Moody City Hall, 100 Newport Dr.) at 7 p.m.
  • • Port Coquitlam = Oct. 3, Riverside Community Church (2329 Fremont Conn.) at 7 p.m.

If you have a question for the candidates during one of the meetings, fill out the form in advance via tricitieschamber.com.

The Tri-City News was a sponsor of the Mayors' Barbecue.

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