Letter: Let’s fix the disconnect

Letter: Let’s fix the disconnect

Mayoral candidate Martin Johansen answers a question about crime and public safety during Wednesday’s all-candidates forum at Frank Venables Theatre. Shown seated with him are incumbent Mayor Ron Hovanes and incumbent councillor Petra Veintimilla. (Lyonel Doherty photo)

Thanks to the Chronicle for putting on this very revealing all-candidates forum last week.

Throughout my years in the military I have had the pleasure to serve with a number of really good leaders. Last week I saw three more of them; they are very easy to spot: Rick Knodel, Dave Mattes and most importantly Martin Johansen. All the candidates presented well. I believe they are all well meaning, but these three really stood out. They answered questions very directly, did not lay the onus on the public for crime prevention and I felt they were truly listening; they all had more than just a semblance of a plan. More importantly they all stated the intent to act on public sentiment.

Over the course of the last three-and-a-half months, while preparing for the crime forum, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of residents of the community. As stated last week I took two main observations away from those discussions.

One is the fear that those in our community are experiencing due to the crime that is so prevalent.

The second is the disconnect between the people of this community and our political leaders; particularly Town council, the CAO and mayor. Virtually every one of those I spoke to this summer indicated that they felt that the mayor and the council have not been acting in concert with the views of this community. Almost no variation on that theme.

When I asked the candidates about this chasm between us and them and the fact that they appear to be acting contrary to our wishes, they all seem perplexed. Except, of course, the three mentioned above.

The candidates all stated that they believe that they have been listening. Which is even worse than deliberately ignoring our feelings. The fact that they don’t even realize a problem exists tells me just how disassociated they are from this community.

I hold as a shining example the placement of the Coast Hotel. Of all the people that I have spoken to only one believes that location was appropriate for this facility. Every one of them agreed that we needed a new hotel, but they all felt a location several hundred metres to the north would have made more sense. But our wishes were ignored and the council went ahead and displaced a perfectly profitable Centennial Park in favour of some out of town interests; profits that will be leaving town.

Choose carefully on the 20th of this month, Oliver.

Michael Guthrie, Oliver