Mayoral hopefuls duke it out in debate

Scott Howell came out swinging at last night's mayoral debate on CBC. Although he ended his opening remarks by wishing his opponents luck and telling them how much respect he had for them...

Scott Howell came out swinging at last night’s mayoral debate on CBC.

Although he ended his opening remarks by wishing his opponents luck and telling them how much respect he had for them, it seemed a less than sincere sentiment because he used most of his time lambasting them for their performance last week at the mayoral forum.

This is how he saw things:

“Rick called Dan a political wannabe. Dan called Rick a fear-mongerer over development,” he said.

“Bernie stuck to his guns and his plans to run on the record – that is part of what put the Whitehorse people in the impending mess that we have just begun to deal with. And Mandeep struggled for a position in the crowd by throwing as many blind jabs as he could whenever he looked up from his computer, and then tagged all of our signs with his stickers later.”

Sidhu never responded to Howell’s allegations that he defaced his opponents signs, but he did pledge that, if elected, he would donate his entire salary to fund social projects for the city, and that he would work to get the territory and federal governments to match his contribution.

Social issues, like homelessness and crime, were the hot topics of the night. Everyone seemed to agree that the city needs to take more of a leadership role in dealing with them.

“The city needs to be a strong advocate for those in need,” said Phillips.

The Whitehorse food bank is serving four times the number of people it expected when it opened only a few years ago, he said. It’s served 1,500 people this year, 300 more than 2011.

Karp said that the city needs to work to get more affordable housing built. “That’s absolutely essential,” he said.

But Whitehorse can’t solve those problems alone, said Curtis. “The reality is the city does not have an abundance of cash,” he said.

Curtis and Howell both pledged that they would work with the city’s charities, non-profits and the territorial government to help solve the problem.

The city’s crime problem was something that at least two of the candidates had experienced first hand.

Howell had recently seen a car “firebombed” in his neighbourhood and Sidhu was mugged and had his phone stolen at knifepoint only a few weeks ago.

While Sidhu placed some of the blame for the spike in violence on “modern media and UFC,” the biggest problem, he said, is alcohol.

The city should be looking at building a better detox centre, he said.

With winter setting in, the candidates were asked to propose a temporary solution to house the city’s homeless.

Karp was the only one to put forward any kind of plan.

He suggested that the city could look at using schools as a temporary emergency shelters, something that’s done in other cities, he said. “There’s all sorts of real creative things we can do,” said Karp.

When it came to a question on the city’s derelict and abandoned buildings, Howell took the lead.

“The reality is that there are some hurdles that have been chucked out in front of people that stop things from being done,” he said.

The cost to demolish a building is simply too high, said Howell. “They’d love to tear down, but the $125,000 that they’re going to pay in tipping fees at the dump is just a little bit too steep for them.”

To end it off, every candidate pledged that they would work hard to make Whitehorse a better place to live, but Sidhu did it while alliterating everything with the letter M.

Polls open tomorrow at 8 a.m.

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com