Voters hear from District 4 candidates

By Katherine Murphy    

QUEENSPORT – Wind and rain didn’t keep constituents of District 4 in MODG away from the opportunity to get to know the candidates before casting their vote in the upcoming by-election next week.

Upon arriving at a Meet the Candidates event held on Wednesday, April 3 in Queensport, attendees were asked to write down their questions for candidates. Moderator Chris Cook introduced each candidate as they gave their opening statements.

Council hopefuls Jenny MacDonald, Dave Hanhams, Elaine Durling and Tino Winter responded to issues raised by the audience that ranged from taxes and promoting job growth, to their thoughts on large projects like the Canso Spaceport.

The first question asked each candidate to share their vision for growth in Guysborough County.

Winter said his vision is based in finding new ways to attract people to live and work in a disproportionately aging community.

Hanhams emphasized the importance of getting the younger generations interested in trades so that they may work on current and future planned projects for the area and be able to stay in their home community.

MacDonald conveyed the importance of inviting young people into the conversation to find solutions for growth in the area.

In her response, Elaine Durling highlighted the tourism industry as a beacon of growth for the community. Durling argued that the local tourism sector is under-utilized, given the area’s natural surroundings, and that small businesses that attract tourists are just as important for growth in District 4 as large private-sector projects.

With the question of promoting industrial investments and sustainability in the district, the candidates had varying opinions.

One size does not fit all, said MacDonald.

“We need to be incredibly careful, we need a representative at the table who can take the information, who can have the critical thinking skills to be able to look at the facts, weigh the pros and cons and come up with the right answer for each proposal,” she said.

Durling said it is important to look at both the risks and rewards of industrial projects, and that the decision lies with the community.

“With anything we do there are environmental risks. If we didn’t take some risks we’d still be living in caves,” she said. Using the Canso Spaceport as an example, she said, “It’s not what I think we should do, it’s what the constituents think we should do.”

On the topic of Maritime Launch Services’ plans for the spaceport, Hanhams said he trusts the judgement of the Department of Environment, which will make its decision on environmental approval public in the coming weeks.

Winters stated that he is completely in favour of the project, and that he doesn’t take positions on issues like this lightly.

Although it remained a consistent theme throughout the evening, one question in particular asked the candidates to share their strategy to bring long-term and sustainable jobs to the community.

MacDonald said empowering members of our community to create jobs is a key strategy for sustainable employment in the district. Winters referred to a two-pronged approach. He said he would like to see private industry promoted in the area, as well as helping residents to make their own way through entrepreneurship.

The Municipal By-Election for District 4 Councillor will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019.