All-candidates meeting gives community forum for discussion 

Election candidates bared their souls at the all-candidates meeting on All Souls Day, Saturday, Nov. 2, a date also known as the Day of the Dead.

The seven incumbents pitched to the community for the chance to serve Whistler again while 13 others vied to replace them.

"What’s a guy got to do to get a part-time job around here?" joked council candidate Shane Bennett, taking the floor for his three minutes in the spotlight.

"This is the roughest job interview I’ve ever had."

Councillor candidates each had three minutes to plead their cases to the roughly 225 audience members. The mayoralty candidates were allowed five minutes each.

Councillor candidate Mitch Rhodes joked in his summation:

"There’s so much hot air blowing that I’m afraid we’re not going to see snow till after the election."

Although long, the three and a half-hour session proved useful to some audience members.

"Coming here –it was enlightening," said Maureen Horvath, sitting in the front row of the Myrtle Philip gymnasium.

"There’s been a movement in my thoughts."

Audience members had the chance to approach the microphone and ask candidates specific questions.

Resident John Richmond was particularly interested in the Tourist Accommodation zoning bylaw, a controversial issue among some community members, which has not been a big part of election campaigns to date.

Dave Davenport, who is challenging Mayor Hugh O’Reilly for the mayor’s job, said that he would be very surprised if most of the councillor candidates didn’t support the existing TA zoning laws.

"As the mayor the greatest opportunity is that I can participate in this. I do not have to excuse myself," he added, referring to the fact that O’Reilly has not been able to participate in TA zoning discussions due to a conflict of interest.

Later councillor Nick Davies, who is also a practising lawyer, pointedly asked Davenport if he would not have excuse himself out of certain council discussions involving businesses in the village and in Function Junction.

On the matter of conflicts of interest Davies said: "The law is crystal clear."

Davenport owns Skitch, a store in the village, and Mountain Crests, in Function Junction.

"If it came down to it I would put the store for sale and Mountain Crests for sale," said Davenport, who was the focus of most questions during the mayoralty portion of the meeting.

"I’ll do it if it’s necessary."

Among other things Davenport was also asked about his views on the $10 million library/museum building, to which the municipality has committed $5 million. The rest is to be raised by the community members.

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