Hundreds attended the Fernie election forum last Wednesday night. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Massive interest in Fernie all candidates forum

Voter engagement is the highest it has been in years as evidenced by attendance at the Fernie All-Candidates Forum last Wednesday.

After all of the seats in the Community Centre were taken, people stood at the back of the room, along the walls and even made their way up the balcony.

Glen Purdy said in all his years as a moderator, this was the most people he had ever seen at a live forum.

Fifteen candidates, 12 for council and three for mayor, spoke of their goals, concerns, passions and abilities before a crowd of approximately 500 with thousands more watching online.

Kyle Hamilton, Phil Iddon, Tracey Kelly, Greg Barnes, Kevin McIsaac, Dan McSkimming, Scott Newland, Troy Nixon, Yvonne Prest, Morgan Pulsifer, Steve Kallies and Joe Warshawsky answered submitted questions from the floor.

Those running for council were asked questions pertaining to cannabis, infrastructure, what makes Fernie special, how to balance the needs of tourists and locals, permit delays, their ideas for growth and development, affordable housing, removal of short term rentals, strengthening ties with the Ktunaxa Nation, affordable childcare in Fernie, and council accountability.

Mayoral candidates Mary Giuliano, Ange Qualizza and Sharon Switzer were asked questions pertaining to challenges facing Fernie over the next four years, affordability for seniors, mixed secondary dwelling zoning, development in relation to wildlife corridors, Fernie’s long term debt and risk of interest rate hikes, mobility issues around town and specifically at City Hall, as well as questions about overcrowding at Isabella Dicken Elementary School.

As the evening drew to a close, Purdy said he believed the community of Fernie had a panel of experienced and passionate people to choose from for their next local government.

General voting will be open to qualified electors of the City of Fernie on Saturday, October 20 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Drop-In Centre, 562 3rd Ave.

There is also advance voting on Wednesday, October 10 and Wednesday, October 17 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the same location.

To vote in the City of Fernie Municipal Election, electors must register on the day with two pieces of ID that prove their signature and their address.

To watch a video stream of the forum, split into two parts, visit the Fernie Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/ferniechamber.

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