Submitted by Barb Shaw
COE HILL — The Red Eagle Pavilion was filled with Wollaston voters on Saturday morning and despite the chilly breeze blowing through the open-air meeting space, the crowd of around 100 stayed for the entire two hour meeting.
Organized by Red Eagle owner Karen Challinor as a way to give voters the chance to connect with the candidates, the meeting was kept upbeat and fun.
“We hosted the event as we felt it was important that constituents know who they are voting for and get an opportunity to meet the candidates as well as hear the candidates opinions on what matters to our municipality,” Challinor explained.
“We have a very diverse cross section of voters in our municipality and to be informed of your choices is the only way to make an educated vote on election day.”
All of the municipal candidates were there as well as school board trustee hopeful Alex Walder.
Submitted questions from the floor focused on development, support for lake residents and raised concerns about communication and transparency.
Incumbent Reeve Dan McCaw did not feel that there was an issue with transparency and that he hopes that more folks will attend council meetings.
McCaw explained that “my basic thing in life is people; I like to hear from them and see what I can do for them.”
Council candidate John Travis also did not think that Council was lacking openness or transparency and indicated that they were always easy to approach. He continues by saying that this was how he would be as a Councillor.
Candidate for Reeve Bob Ireland explained that, “openness starts with the individuals and that it is the Reeve’s job to make sure that all of Council is open.”
Ireland continued to acknowledge the concern and said, “transparency happens when you people believe it happens.”
Both Council candidates Rebecca Smith and Brent Goodwin agreed that communication could be improved with the issuing of minutes and having them posted in different locations. Up to date posting on the internet was also identified as a way to improve thecurrent situation.
Candidate for Deputy Reeve, Graham Blair says that he hopes to continue to work on “the real nice changes in Coe Hill” and that he hopes these changes will attract some younger families to the community. Blair says that moving from Councillor to Deputy Reeve for him is a natural progression.
Candidate for Deputy Reeve Christopher McGowan says that he is building a home in the community because he thinks that there is great potential in Wollaston. He runs a transportation business and is also an instructor.
Concern over the lack of future stimulus spending and the need for some new community buildings were discussed but it was emphasized by candidates that they would all have to work together to make progress.
The upbeat tone of the meeting was set early on by candidate Maryann Post who pulled out her guitar and sang an election song she wrote called, “Act Naturally”. The song invited everyone to come and see her in the Chambers and now that the community has been invited, maybe they will stay informed and actively engage themselves as partners in the political process.
The meeting wrapped up with host and moderator Karen Challinor asking the candidates to go back to their youth and share with the audience what they thought they wanted to be, as kids, when they grew up. After some discussion about the if they were now actually grown up, the answers included a truck driver, a mechanic, a teacher, a respite worker, an advocate for others and the audience favourite; Spider Man.
Candidates stayed after the meeting for discussion and time to connect with their community.