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Candidates forum produces tension


On October 11th the Opasquia Times held an all-councillor candidates forum at the University College of the North, with the majority of candidates taking part.
Of the 11 councillor candidates, 10 were in attendance at the forum. Ivan Young was out of the community and did not provide a statement to be read on his behalf.
The forum covered a variety of topics but there was a heavy theme focusing on the special service levy which is currently being pursued by council. When asked if they would support it, answers fluctuated between the candidates, ranging from an outright no to a call for more information or a different version of the levy. Many cited the fact there is considerable public opposition to the levy as a reason to review it before proceeding.
Some candidates also went as far as to support a call to cancel a planned public hearing on the levy scheduled for November 26th. The public hearing would be the first step council would have to make towards bringing the levy into place.
Other topics for the candidates addressed issues such as taxation and development, while one interesting question from the floor called on some of the candidates to sell The Pas to a person considering relocating to the community in one minute.
There were also some testy moments at the forum, including former Town councillor Brad Bodnar challenging existing council members Crystal Krost, Chad Zolinski and Margaret Commodore to validate the special service levy they wish to bring in, only to shout out opposition to Krost’s answer to his question. Unlike the Mayoral candidates forum which was held on October 1st, during this forum the moderator was forced to step in several times to ask audience members and those asking questions at the microphone provided to the public to restrain themselves.
Despite the public involvement there were few shocking answers to forum questions. Video of the forum can be found on the Opasquia Times Facebook page.
Election day is on October 24th with polls open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. There are just two polling stations open this year, a change from the five which were open in the last municipal election held in 2014. Polling station number one is located at the Town offices while the second polling station is located at the Roy H. Johnston Arena.

Trent Allen