Two mayoralty candidates held the attention of a crowd of close to 350 at Settlers Ridge in Smiths Falls October 4. Joe Gallipeau and incumbent Shawn Pankow expressed views — often contradictory — during the hour long session. Moderator Paul Howard kept up the momentum with questions he himself described as “tough and difficult.”
Both initially spoke of themselves, what they’ve brought to the community and what they want to do in the future. Howard first asked the same hospital question he had asked to the candidates for a councillor’s position: From the 60,000 household catchment basin that uses the hospital, do candidates support $41 from each household on an annual basis to support the core capital funding of equipment for the hospital i.e. MRIs, heart monitors.
Pankow, from his experience, felt sustainable funding couldn’t be created through short-term campaigns and the “only way is probably through municipal taxation” throughout the nine communities that use the hospital facilities.
Gallipeau suggested perhaps the Town could supply “water and sewer to the hospital, or go to the provincial government. Before I support this,” he said, “I want to know where the money goes.”
Again, as in the councillor debate, the question of OPP costing was asked. “Undoubtedly OPP would cost lower for the Town,” Pankow offered, “but there wouldn’t be the same level of service as we have now.” He added that the Town supports a large manufacturer that works in millions of dollars and regularly moves product from one side of the road to the other. A police facility sits in between the two buildings so the manufacturer “loves where it [police] is right now.”
Gallipeau said a costing would give a “yardstick” to the Town.
The “tough” questions followed.
Gallipeau was asked about conflict of interest if he was elected mayor particularly with reference to two tenants — Accelerator Incubator and the Hub swimming pool — at the Gallipeau Centre. Gallipeau struggled with his explanation but emphasized that “no funds came to the Gallipeau Centre.’’ With respect to the lawsuit of TAG Gallipeau Corporation with the Town, Gallipeau felt he had no alternative but to proceed after trying for two years to work out a resolution with the Town. He added, if anything arose at council to do with the Gallipeau Centre or TAG, he declared an immediate conflict of interest, didn’t vote and was “totally transparent” in his dealings.
Pankow also got a “tough” question. His dealt with the relocation of Victoria Park and why it had not been discussed at council.
The original vision, he said “goes back eight years to 2010. There was a new strategic plan in 2013. In it was the possibility of redeveloping the waterfront. It sat on a shelf and was not pursued. This year Parks Canada put its foot down. They have a vision for the complete Rideau Canal and it doesn’t include trailers in Victoria Park.
“We understand the value of seasonal residents and the value to the Chamber of Commerce but I don’t know how much choice we have. Parks Canada owns the land, we lease the land; they have a vision that does not include trailers in that area.
“We can bide our time and find another location within our community along the waterfront that would work.
“If forced to make a change and if this has an impact on the Chamber of Commerce in a financially negative way, then the Town could give financial support to the Chamber.
“My preference,” however, he added, “…would be to move it somewhere else along the river in the community, to do more with the existing space and enhance the tourism experience.
“I don’t think there’s any point in lobbying Parks Canada, but I’m fully supportive of ensuring the Chamber has the revenues it needs.”
Gallipeau reiterated the campground should be kept where it is.
Several further questions — the final one being whether the candidates felt Committee of the Whole should have a public question and answer session — lead to a round-up and the end of the evening. Both agreed the question and answer could be introduced as a pilot project.