Nipawin council candidates safely gathered together at the Nipawin Apostolic Church to discuss burning at two all-candidates forums.
The Nipawin and District Chamber of Commerce hosted forums for mayor and the six councillor spots on Nov. 2.
Candidates were given an allotted time to read prepared opening statements and then were asked questions that were sent in from residents of Nipawin.
The event was closed to the public but was available on a live feed via YouTube. To view both the mayoral forum and the candidate forum, visit facebook.com/NDCOC or the chamber's YouTube channel, youtube.com/channel/UCtCqW07lFiwIV2nKTyaOiYg. Sheila Seiferling was unavailable for the forum.
Here are some highlights from all the candidates:
Homelessness has been an issue in Nipawin for about 30 years or more... I am very aware of what successfully has been done in Medicine Hat and would like to replicate that with the assistance of our new Community Pandemic Oversight Committee, which provides input from 20 different organizations, not just from the Town of Nipawin. It's a community responsibility, not just a responsibility for the town.
— Rennie Harper, mayoral candidate, on addressing homelessness
We as the community have to go can support all the businesses in Nipawin so that they can afford to pay those taxes. And also, we do have to keep looking at other ways to raise funds in our community, through government grants or whatever it might be, to help keep our taxes lower than what they maybe are now or what they should be in the future.
— Brian Starkell, mayoral candidate, on tax burdens for local businesses
We're seeing people worrying about our downtown businesses all the time, whether they're closing or potentially moving out into another community where they can make a better run at providing for their own families. I think our biggest challenge is working on keeping people in our community and shopping local and choosing Nipawin then to live, work and play.
— Marlon Zacharias, mayoral candidate, on the biggest challenge facing Nipawin
We do have [groups] in town that are working to address the reduction and the prevention of crime...The town is active on both the Hub Steering Committee and the Hub Table. It's an interagency group that works to directly support individuals. We also have the alternative measures program. We need to continue with partnerships like this to address poverty and homelessness and racism that contributes to crime. If we don't address the underlying issues, we won't ever address the problem.
— Jan Boughen on safety and crime
There are always underlying issues sometimes to some of the crime that is happening in our town and some of those underlying issues need to be corrected. That is something council can't do but everybody in the community can do their part to report crime if you see it or anything that looks suspicious. The police cannot do anything if you don't know what’s up.
— Sheldon Chornawka on crime
The things that have been done there now have definitely improved it with the bandstand and the curling thing they had in there. We got those nice garden boxes by the water tower. I don't know how you would really improve it without looking at it a little deeper.
— John Dempster on downtown beautification
We are working together to improve things, there's a long way to go. They do support our community quite well and we all know that. It's not only indigenous, it's all races. We're all equal.
— Bruce Pihowich on homelessness
Taxes are a historical problem. As a council we need to see if we can keep the tax rises to a minimum.
— Gene Rusk on commercial tax increases
I’m in favor of continuing with the indigenous engagement and reconciliation. And I believe that as a council and as citizens we have to work together and that all citizens and all people are very important in the community in all aspects, whether it be business, or social programs, or the downtown beautification, or the community gardens. If everybody in the community works together, the community will be better. We're better together.
— Kerry Skowronski on engaging with indigenous peoples
We need to come up with a grant program that has some money every year and then work with our build businesses to build up a facade and to improve the frontage of all the buildings, number one. If that's not what they want, making sure that they can access the tax incentives for improving their business and their storefronts as well. So lots to be done there.
— Geoff Stewart on downtown beautification
I also believe that we do need affordable housing but it's back to the root of the problem. We get a handle on those things that would probably be a place to start as well. Being in the town I actually watched some big trouble not respecting alcohol. It is a problem that has to be addressed.
—Stacey Vik on homelessness
We talk about the issues and possible solutions. I bring what I can forward and I do listen to social media, as well, and pick what needs to be addressed because there's always an underlying issue in what is being complained about. And I do believe that people need to come forward with solutions along with their criticism if there is any, or just the pat on the back sometimes is nice to hear too.
— Joyce Watts on an approachable council
Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist