Mayoral candidates took to the hot seat in a debate.
About 600 people witnessed a heated debate between five people vying for the mayor’s seat at O’Gorman High School. Candidates had the opportunity to present their platforms and answer questions from the business and public community.
One of the questions asked was “Now that we have had two Stars and Thunder events, what is your position on Stars and Thunder moving forward?”
Lauchlan MacInnes says at the end of the day no one is saying it was a dreadful event, but it is one that cost the city a lot of money. MacInnes says Timmins is a great city that deserves nice things, but we should tone it down and keep things more reasonable. He says the city could use the money from an event like Stars and Thunder and improve Timmins’ arts and culture scene by doing multiple smaller events throughout the year instead of one big event once a year.
Ray Burey says as a senior he finds Stars and Thunder a hard pill to swallow. Burey says there are a lot of people and seniors in the community that can’t afford an event like this and adding $200 to their taxes to pay for it puts them in tight positions. He says Stars and Thunder should be self-supporting and not on the people. He adds that Timmins should have a place to hold concerts like that, but it shouldn’t have to take money from the reserves to do so.
Daniel Fortier says it’s a great event for the city, but it should only be for three or four days. Fortier says he thinks as a mayor you should not be running a festival or concert like that because that’s what concert promoters are for. He adds that council shouldn’t be promoting the event, just giving some money to support it.
George Pirie says if you ask him if he would support an event with high costs to the city and would land on the taxpayers he would say no. Pirie adds that if you were to ask him to support an event that has a good business plan and make money for the city he would say yes. He adds that the festival that’s been running for over 30 years in Dauphin Manitoba is a great example of a festival that didn’t work the first time around, they fixed the issues and now it makes money every year. He says volunteers, donations and a business plan that could grow would make the festival money.
Steve Black says he is the first one to admit that the eight-day festival can’t run and lose money as it has, but Timmins wouldn’t have held this big of an event if it weren’t;t for the courage of council. Black says he agrees that Stars and Thunder should be reduced to three or four days, but overall it was a good thing for the city. He says it brought in tourism from all over the world and has positive economic spin-offs.
Another question brought forward was “What are your top three priorities moving forward?”
Burey says he wants to reduce taxes to the provincial average, rejuvenate the downtown core and address housing shortages and affordability.
Fortier says he wants to build affordable homes off the grid for the homeless that they could use as long as they were volunteering and taking a financial course. He says he also wants to help people get and find more jobs.
Pirie says he wants to control spending, implement the council committee system, diversify the local economy and partner with Indigenous people to make Timmins more welcoming and embrace the future.
Black says he wants to help bring more jobs to the community and sited working on bringing the Noront Farrochome Site to Timmins. He says he also wants to focus on affordability for all, quality of life and local infrastructure.
MacInnes says infrastructure is one of his big focuses. He adds that he would also focus on poverty reduction by investing in organizations like Project Love and improving the arts and culture scene.
Candidates also discussed the proposed aquatic centre, racism in Timmins and municipalities opting out of cannabis retail stores.
Click here to view the full debate video.