Oakville Chamber of Commerce: Mayoral Debate

300 plus came out hear the candidates positions from traffic, water fluoridation, public safety, property taxes and the redevelopment of Downtown Oakville.

Oakville Chamber of Commerce: Mayoral Debate

Town citizens filled the Oakville Conference Centre Wednesday, where the first mayoral debate for the 2014 election took place. With less than a month remaining until the Oct. 27 voting day, the five candidates had an opportunity to speak openly about their plans and convince the public to elect them mayor of Oakville.

Candidates were asked to weigh in on Oakville’s most pressing issues and provide a plan to resolve them. Discussion revolved around topics such as municipal land transfer taxes, preserving the harbours, and stance on property taxes.

“I don’t want to raise taxes because it means we’re not staying within our $300 million budget,” said Gordon Brennan. “Taxes don’t need to go up every single year. I propose we can stay within our budget at the very minimum for two years.”

Downtown Oakville was also a hot topic. The candidates addressed the problem of struggling small businesses in the area and how to keep them afloat.

“We currently, in Oakville, do encourage a great deal towards the large corporations and we’re kind of forgetting about the small business,” said Mary Kennedy. “The large corporations, we give many of them good tax rebates while they do very well, and at the same time we’re not really encouraging small business as much as we should.”

Current mayor Rob Burton said he and his council, should they be re-elected, have several plans to revitalize the downtown core, starting with the revamping the roads and sewage pipes. He also said they’re looking into building a parking garage in the area.

“In the downtown area, there’s a set of proposals in front of the public,” said Burton. “Five different ways we might remodel, or revivify, or renew our cultural facilities.”

Burton reviewed his accomplishments during his eight-year tenure as mayor of Oakville and discussed his council’s plans for the next four years, while John McLaughlin was repeatedly aggressive in criticizing Burton’s actions as mayor.

“I’m running to end eight years of failed leadership by Mr. Burton,” he said. “Failed policies, fiscal mismanagement, and doublespeak.”

McLaughlin kept Burton in the hot seat, accusing him of increasing property taxes by 40 per cent, spending by 50 per cent and tripling Oakville’s debt.

The transit system garnered much attention, which branched out to debates over road expansion, solving congestion, and environmentally friendly electric hybrid buses, which McLaughlin suggested as a more efficient alternative. Brennan compared his vision of a better transit system to the one in London, England.

“You’re getting the service every one to five minutes, not every 30 minutes waiting for the bus,” he said. “I would like to see the transit basically privatized to the point where it is highly, highly efficient.”

Kennedy’s platform was to improve overall safety in Oakville, while Greg Warchol focused heavily on his plan to rid Oakville’s water system of fluoride, claiming it’s hazardous to consume.

A public meet and greet preceded the debate, where people met and spoke one-to-one to those running for office positions.

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. Lori McLaughlin says:

    What an inspiring touch to have a member of Oakville’s youth demographic have an opportunity to share his observations on a topic normally left to the adult population. We need our future leaders involved now!! Great job, Matthew!

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