City council candidate Wendy Pratt was one of eight candidates co-hosting a meet-and-greet event Thursday at Departure Bay Kin Hut. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Candidates talk economic development and other priorities at meet and greet

Eight candidates co-host voter information event at Departure Bay Kin Hut

Candidates had a chance to meet more voters and try to get their messages out as the countdown to election day continues.

Eight Nanaimo council candidates co-hosted a meet-and-greet event Thursday night at Departure Bay Kin Hut. Jim Turley, Don Bonner, Tyler Brown, Erin Hemmens, Alexis Petersen, Ben Geselbracht, Zeni Maartman and Wendy Pratt each took a few minutes to introduce themselves and try to present highlights of their platforms.

Some of the common threads were a desire to rebuild relationships and hire staff at city hall, improve community engagement, and strengthen economic development.

Maartman said she would support “economic development with the establishment of a more robust department, and a focus on green initiatives, innovation and technology, arts and culture and heritage.”

Brown touched on the subject in outlining what he called “a strong Nanaimo.”

“And that’s proper economic development, proper taxation, proper initiatives that produce a sustainable, viable economy that will provide for us now, provide for our children and our grandchildren,” he said.

Geselbracht made a similar point about wanting all generations to be able to “age in place,” mentioning a role for a regional economic development program, and Petersen said Nanaimo needs the kind of jobs that will allow young people to stay in the city.

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Turley said the City of Nanaimo needs to have “a more fluid way” of supporting economic development, with city staff “who will kind of direct investors through the appropriate phase of challenges that seem to pop up.”

Bonner said he wants Nanaimo to be able to attract high-tech jobs which he called “the next industry” in the region.

“I want to do that by creating the building blocks for high-tech industry who want to move here, and create the building blocks for the workers who want to work with high-tech industry,” Bonner said, adding that a “digital backbone” will be a part of that.

Brown said as he’s discussed and explored different ideas about Nanaimo over the last couple of years, he’s been met with an openness that never existed before.

“I don’t know if it’s just a result from the last council term or what it is, but it doesn’t matter – there’s a different energy,” he said. “And I think that really, what’s rooted in that energy is this idea that Nanaimo can actually be something more than it currently has been.”

Aside from the eight candidates hosting Thursday’s event, there were about a dozen other local government election candidates in attendance.

Election day is Oct. 20, with advance voting on Oct. 17. Nanaimo voters will elect a nine-member council – a mayor and eight city councillors.

To read questionnaire responses from 75 local government election candidates, click here or here. For interviews with more than 45 local government election candidates, click here.

Previous voter information events:

City council candidates take on regional themes at town hall

Mayoral candidates debate their visions for leadership in Nanaimo

School budget debated at all-candidates’ meeting for Nanaimo trustee hopefuls

Candidates ponder affordable housing and homelessness

Candidates talk waterfront planning, supportive housing at south-end debate

Five-candidates’ meeting held in north Nanaimo

Upcoming voter information events:

Chase River town hall. Sunday, Oct. 14, 3-5 p.m., Moose Hall. With candidates Erin Hemmens, Peter Kent, Don Bonner, Sheryl Armstrong, Tyler Brown and Ben Geselbracht.

District of Lantzville all-candidates’ meeting, Sunday, Oct. 14, 3-5 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 257.

Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce/Our Nanaimo council candidates’ forum, Oct. 15, 6-9 p.m., Vancouver Island Conference Centre. For a list of the 25 invited candidates, click here.

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