The room at the Casablanca Inn was packed last Wednesday night as voters came out to ask questions of the four mayoral hopefuls as the Grimsby Chamber of Commerce hosted Votefest 2014.
The Livingston Avenue extension, the tar and chip coating on Reg. Rd. 81, transparency and economic development were among the topics debated.
Bob Bentley was the only candidate who spoke in favour of the extension of Livingston Avenue.
One resident suggested Bentley had sold out to developers but he defended the decision noting that there is $15 million worth of services already in the ground out there.
Bentley also came under fire for the tar and chip coating on Reg. Rd. 81.
Bentley said he was unaware of the plan to use tar and chip instead of paving and that the regional commissioner of public works had since apologized for not notifying Bentley and Reg. Coun. Debbie Zimmerman.
When asked about recorded votes for all issues, Bentley said he had no problem with that.
“I’m not ashamed of anything I have voted for.”
Wayne Fertich said he called the region and was told the tar and chip treatment was a trade off for the expense of the proposed extension of Livingston Avenue.
“It didn’t work, tar is up on the sidewalks, people can’t ride their bikes. It was a poor job,” said Fertich.
As for transparency in government, Fertich was in support of recorded votes. He also noted meetings and agendas are posted on the town website for those who want to attend meetings.
Fertich also said there is no land left for large commercial development in Grimsby and that economic development is needed.
He expressed concern about receiving town statements late.
“We are trying to set the 2015 budget but have just seen the 2012 financial statements,” he said. “This is not good enough.”
Robert Greco said Bentley should have known in advance of the tar and chip coating being done.
“If the buck doesn’t stop at the mayor’s desk where does it stop?” he said. “I want it fixed. It didn’t happen overnight, the mayor should have known what was going on.”
Greco is all for more transparency in government and also more communication. “There should be constant contact. More than just photo ops and charity events.”
He suggested a couple of solutions for economic development.
“We need to do a better job of marketing ourselves. There is growth money available.”
He used the example of the bowling alley sitting empty and suggested finding a business interested in using that space.
Tony Serafini said the issue surrounding the tar and chip coating and the Livingston Ave. extension shouldn’t have to be so complicated.
“The people speak, we listen, it shouldn’t be as complex as it is,” he said.
Serafini said he would love to see a regular newsletter updating the community about council matters to promote transparency.
“You need to get out once a month, talk to people and also use social media to stay connected,” he said.
He was also in support of recorded votes for the same reason.
Serafini suggested new businesses could be attracted to come to Grimsby if they were offered some kind of incentive.
“Ask people what they need to thrive and put a committee together to work on it.”