Recent History – 1999
Not. 5, 1999
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Parking meters, curfews, and the proposed Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre were some of the issues that voters brought up Wednesday during the question period at the all-candidates forum.
Alaska Hotel owner Charles Kux-Kardos, a proponent of varying the times on the programmable meters according to the needs of each business, asked candidates for their opinions on the subject. Some agreed with Kux-Kardos, while others had different solutions. Calvin Kruk, for example, wants to replace the meters with tire chalking and increasing the fines.
John Calderwood, meanwhile, noted that a Langley-based collection agency sent him a notice, not a locally-based firm. “I find that insulting,” he said.
He also said that the system seems designed more for generating revenue than for controlling parking.
Incumbent Bob Gibbs noted that a survey conducted a few years ago showed that while most businesses wanted to get rid of the meters, even more wanted some form of enforcement.
“And it’s been decided that parking meters are the best way to go,” he said.
But he conceded that the issue will likely raise its head once again before the next three-year term of council is completed.
As for the mayoral candidates, Blair Lekstrom advocated a six-month trial during which the meters would be bagged, while Bill Kusk said a referendum should be held on the subject. David Twombly said he would simply get rid of them and use hand-held computers to keep track of constant violators.
About 160 people showed up for the forum, organized by the Dawson Creek and District Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Bob Haugen.
Virtually all of the candidates supported a referendum on whether to go ahead with the interpretive centre, and while most liked the concept as a way to keep tourists in town an extra day, they had problems with the proposed location at NAR Park.
But incumbent Marcheta Leoppky noted that there was also plenty of opposition to moving the grain elevator to NAR Park and yet it has become something the city can be proud of.
She also said that if the city continues to grow, it’s likely that the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre will be reverted back into a school as more families move to Dawson Creek.
“There are more people from this town who’ve gone on to make a living in arts and culture than they have in sports, and yet we don’t think twice about spending $4 million on a new arena,” she said.
Lekstrom, meanwhile, downplayed the possible cost, currently estimated at $6.5 million, saying that’s for the initial plan which may be cut down depending on how much funding can be raised.
“It is not the intent to use municipal or regional taxpayers’ dollars,” he said. “There’s millennium funds out there, there’s federal funding, there’s provincial funding, there’s tourism funding that can be accessed.”
He added that the location is still up in the air and that NAR Park remains only an option and if it looked like it would cost local taxpayers, a referendum should be held.
Kusk said the interpretive centre, with a proposed dinner-theatre facility, would amount to using taxpayers money to compete against private businesses like the George Dawson Inn. Twombly said a major town hall meeting would be needed on the issue.
Council candidate Kimeal Shearing Cooke found herself in a debate over her stance in favour of a curfew on the city”s youth. As a youth, Julia Mackay said a curfew would be a violation of her rights and asked why being out late should make her a criminal.
Cooke said violating a curfew would not lead to criminal charges and that it was not necessarily aimed at youth like Mackay but at those who look like they might be causing trouble.
Kusk said young people who are out for legitimate reasons would not be bothered by the curfew, although they may be asked by the police why they’re out so late.
“If there are some kids out there at four o’clock in the morning, doing something that they’re not supposed to, we need a method to be able to deal with that, so I’m in support of the curfew,” he said.
Lekstrom also supports a curfew provided that common sense is used. “If my kids are out on the street at 11 o’clock at night, I would have no problem if the RCMP brought them home to my house,” he said.