Port Moody voters have their work cut out for them in choosing between candidates in the Nov. 19 election judging by the similarity of issues and approaches offered by those vying for a spot on city council.
The well-attended meeting held by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce at Inlet Theatre on Tuesday saw agreement on most major issues: traffic, Evergreen Line development and taxes. All 21 candidates who turned out gave a brief speech and a picture quickly emerged that they want control over development around the Evergreen Line and revitalization of Moody Centre, a reduction in traffic congestion, especially along the Murray Clarke corridor, and fair taxes.
But questions from the audience showed a broader array of themes and issues, and once again candidates showed they agreed more than they differed.
On the issue of affordable housing, nine of the candidates suggested building laneway and carriage housing as a way to make housing cheaper for the impoverished while a few said the issue is complicated by various levels of government and the market.
"This is an expensive place to live whether you like it or not. It is a reality," said council candidate Robert Vagramov.
Coun. Mike Clay, a mayoral hopeful, and Coun. Diana Dilworth, who's running for re-election, said council has made affordable housing a priority by regulating and encouraging secondary suites and putting funds toward a housing reserve while Gerry Nuttall, another council incumbent, expressed concern his own children couldn't afford to live in Port Moody.
Mayoralty candidate Robert Simons said the province needs to come to the table, not just municipalities. "It requires a broader perspective," he said.
Meanwhile, car-free apartments were proposed by candidate Rebecca Helps, a Green Party executive director, who said developments along the Evergreen Line would be cheaper if parking didn't need to be provided.
On the issue of bringing the BC Ambulance service to PoMo, all agreed it was a necessity, and candidates also said they supported a municipal auditor and greater say by business owners in municipal affairs, either through a vote or other means, and no one was in favour of highrise development on the IGA property on Ioco Road.
One Port Moody mayoralty candidate, Katie Kickbush, failed to get her message to voters at Tuesday's all-candidates meeting because she arrived at the theatre late, then left without taking part.
"It was literally five [minutes] before seven [p.m.] and they had already started," Kickbush said yesterday.
"I feel horrible about it," she said, noting she plans to be early for the meetings Thursday and Sunday in PoMo.
Council candidate Sylvia Richards also didn't attend the meeting.
But they have two more chances to woo voters: The Moody Centre Community Association was to host an all-candidates meeting Thursday, after The Tri-City News' print deadline, and the Pleasantside Community Association is hosting an all-candidates meeting Sunday at 7 p.m. at Old Orchard Hall.