By: Tony Davis
Candidate for Charlottetown mayor William McFadden sat mostly silent, only choosing to speakÂ a few times during last Wednesdayâ€™s debate at the W.A. Murphy Student Centre at UPEI with fellow candidates Philip Brown, Kim Devine, Cecil Villard, Jamie Larkin. McFadden gotÂ quite an education as the other candidates spoke about youth retention, he said.
The conversation returned to what many believe to be the root problem facing Charlottetown,Â affordable housing.
As McFadden listened to other candidates, it seemed things were in place to deal with theÂ housing crisis, he said.
â€œAre we waiting to decide if we want to move the left foot or the right foot first? I donâ€™t know ifÂ anyone is as confused as I am at this point?â€ McFadden asked the crowd.
â€œNew mayor and council,â€ someone from the front row shouted.
How to keep youth from fleeing Charlottetown was a fitting question to be asked at UPEIâ€™s Student Union Building. Wayne Thibodeau, managing editor of The Guardian, asked the candidatesÂ fighting for Charlottetownâ€™s top seat what they would do to keep â€˜the best and brightestâ€™ inÂ Charlottetown after graduation.
â€œWhat are you prepared to do to stem the tide of young people leaving our city?â€
Larkin returned to the topic he couldnâ€™t step away from all night.
â€œWe need housing, affordable housing, along with a strong sustainable economy,â€ he said.
Larkin then mentioned P.E.I.â€™s controversial PNP program. The immigration program, scrapped this past September, drew criticism for allowing immigrants to gainÂ residency if they set up a business and payed a deposit of $200,000. However, many who tookÂ part in the program did not stick around.
â€œWe can fix PNP and do it right, so it creates economic opportunity for all,â€ Larkin said.
Brown also used the opportunity to discuss housing. He knew in 2016 after reading aÂ youth retention report housing was an issue when it came to keeping youth in the city, he said.
â€œAs we know today it is the crisis on the tableâ€¦ letâ€™s stop taking about it. I know someÂ construction companies are maxed out, but you know what, if we put some offers out there weÂ will get the work done.â€
Devine got the opportunity to meet a lot of young creative entrepreneurs this summer.
â€œThey love living in Charlottetown and I think what we need to do is make sure they canÂ continue to live in Charlottetown. The most important thing we can do is make it affordable.â€
Charlottetown also needs to have a good transit system, she said.
â€œWe have to make Charlottetown a creative city, a cool city, a vibrant city that is full of festivalsÂ and events.â€
Devine would also create if elected an initiative to get young people involved with cityÂ committees, she said.
Villard also wants to engage youth more in the political process, he said.
â€œI think it the one area we forget. I think we assume we always have all the answers, but I thinkÂ if you read the youth report it is an excellent report in terms of identifying the things differentÂ levels of government need to do to respond to the needs of youth,â€ he said.
Photo by: The Guardian
You heard from the candidates for Charlottetown mayor.
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