City council byelection candidates shared their views and vision for Terrace on several topics during an all-candidates online forum on Tuesday, May 25 at 7 p.m hosted by the Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce.
Conducted virtually, the forum was moderated by Sarah Zimmerman, Coast Mountain College executive director of communications.
Joely Viveiros, Dave Gordon, Amandeep Singh Saini and Alex Pietralla were each allotted time for opening and closing statements, and fielded questions submitted by the public in the main section of the forum. All candidates were offered two rebuttal cards that allowed them one minute to respond to another candidate’s answer.
The first rebuttal card of the evening was used by Alex Pietralla, following a question posed to Saini about addiction and homelessness in Terrace’s downtown.
Saini said that the city needs to focus on the root causes of addiction, rather than focusing on treatment after the fact.
“We sometimes forget to focus on the issue of how they are getting addicted, and why they are getting addicted, or what’s the reason for homelessness” he said.
“We need to have something that encourages people to get skills and employment so that they can be a part of the community.”
Pietralla joined in the conversation to emphasize the need for a rehab facility in the northwest, suggesting that Kitsault could serve such a purpose.
“We have a ghost town 150 kilometres north of us in Kitsault with houses, everything, and I’m really just throwing it out there, have we ever had a dialogue with the province to turn Kitsault into a world class treatment facility,” he said.
“I think a place that is a bit more away would help to really work for people to work through their addiction and then find that footing in life.”
Dave Gordon and Joely Viveiros used rebuttal cards to talk about Terrace’s proposed inland port. Gordon said that the city needs to do street improvements on Keith Ave. before the project starts construction. Gordon said that should include a separated sidewalk, bike lanes and trees.
“That’s a really tough section currently for pedestrians and cyclists to get through that block,” he said.
“We don’t want to tear up Keith Ave. and disrupt the construction and then when it gets into operations do we want truck traffic that’s going into the inland port to go through a construction zone, I don’t see that being viable.”
Viveiros disagreed, saying that the upgrades to Keith Ave. were part of the Official Community Plan and Keith Estates, which has since been amended to accommodate the inland port.
“You can have the inland port or you can have Keith Estates, you can’t have both, so if you are going to have the inland port maybe the onus is on the developer to develop that area for that kind of traffic, and not on the city,” she said.
Viveiros also took issue with current city council giving first and second reading to amend the property’s zoning bylaw during the same council meeting.
“They are typically not supposed to be first and second together, but okay that’s the way the city does it, [the city] shouldn’t but that’s okay, we’ll work on that.”
Later, Pietralla used his second rebuttal card to follow a Dave Gordon answer on bringing economic development to Terrace. Gordon said that Terrace needs to partner with industries in Kitimat and Prince Rupert to become a supply and service hub for those industries.
Pietralla agreed, stating that around 20 per cent of Rio Tinto’s Kitimat staff choose to live in Terrace, and more of the same can be expected as the LNG Canada project moves forward.
“Anything that we can do in Terrace to up our game on housing, on infrastructure, on making it a vibrant and livable city for families to come, will ultimately bring us people that have good income,” he said.
General voting day for the Terrace city council byelection is on June 5.
Watch the entire all candidates forum below: