Posted on Friday, October 5, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.
Mayoral candidates debate business and heritage questions for Russell
The three candidates seeing to be mayor of Russell Township after October 22 wrestled with questions about business development and heritage protection during the first all-candidates public session last night.
The October 4 event held at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School in Russell was set up more as a meet-the-candidates political social with all three mayoral candidates and the eight candidates seeing one of the four councillor positions for the township each getting a few minutes on stage to state their campaign platforms and then spending the rest of the evening meeting with one-on-one with any of the more than 130 residents gathered in the school cafetorium.
The three mayoral candidates, incumbent Pierre Leroux (seated left in photo), Shawn McNally, and Charles Armstrong had two separate questions to answer in addition to their campaign introductions. The questions concerned what kind of business development plan could they offer the Village of Russell to help boost its economic profile and how would they balance preservation of the village’s heritage residential features with increasing traffic demands.
Armstrong noted that any major future business growth for the township as a whole will hinge on the 417 Industrial Park near Vars. He argued that the Village of Russell needs its own advisory committee for future economic planning.
“We need a business development committee for each of the (four) villages,” Armstrong said, “if not for the whole municipality.”
“There’s very little commercial zoning still available in the Village of Russell,” said McNally. “It’s a question of supply and demand, with little supply.”
He noted that his business development focus for the village would be to find ways to foster more retail and professional service investment into Russell.
Leroux argued that his council along with previous councils have prepared a economic strategy for the whole municipality along with a heritage protection plan and reports on traffic studies and other concerns.
“We’ve done our studies,” he said. “We know where we’re going. It’s going forward, it’s going the right way, and we need to continue doing so.”
The next full candidates debates take place October 9 and 10 at the Embrun Community Centre. The October 9 session will be in French while the October 10 session is in English.