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TC mayors serve up laughs at Chamber BBQ

It could've been mistaken for a comedy sketch at the start.

It could've been mistaken for a comedy sketch at the start.

But, after the jokes and pokes were over, mayors Richard Stewart, Greg Moore and Mike Clay got down to talk serious business about the state of the Tri-Cities at last Thursday's Chamber of Commerce mayors' barbecue.

Attended by about 80 people, including MP Fin Donnelly and MLAs Doug Horne, Diane Thorne, Mike Farnworth and Joe Trasolini, at the Inlet Theatre - the first time the annual roast has been held in Port Moody - the "Three Amigos" touched on topics such as business taxes, upcoming centennial celebrations and amalgamation, a subject broached at nearly every mayors' barbecue.

"Let's just get this out of the way right now," PoCo's Moore began in his two-minute speech. "I would like to see someone who doesn't come up and say, 'Why don't you do this?' but instead say, 'Do this because....'"

Of the last 15 U.S. cities that amalgamated, Moore said their property taxes soared by more than 50% versus municipalities that had stayed whole. And, Moore stressed, while the Tri-Cities have maintained their unique community identities, they've also shared purchases for big-ticket goods and services to save costs.

"We left Coquitlam [district] 100 years ago and haven't looked back," Moore ended.

"And we are better for it," quipped Coquitlam's Stewart, who had earlier teased that "the main advantage that Coquitlam has is that we have a much better city council than the other two."

Port Moody's Clay, the newbie in the trio having been elected to the top job last November, also put his two cents in on amalgamation: "Richard Stewart won't allow it unless he's the mayor, and nobody wants that."

More off-side remarks were made about the green fencing used as the backdrop, provided by the barbecue sponsor and Chamber member Econo-Pro, which the mayors said was a good setting for a mixed-martial arts tussle.

Questions taken from the floor included: industrial land use; the need for self-serve gas stations in Coquitlam; why business owners can't vote in the municipality they operate in; the closure of the Sheep Paddocks trail at Colony Farm regional park (near the Red Bridge); the new RCMP contract; and Riverview Hospital, which will soon close after almost 100 years.

Earlier in the evening, Mr. Mikes Restaurant in Coquitlam served up a barbecue in the city hall galleria.

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