Today’s Special Council meeting confirmed 17 October 2016 as the date for the Ward 5 by-election, called to replace Joe Sponga. The by-election will be held under the familiar first-past-the-post system, not the ranked ballot which was floated as a possibility.
A number of hopefuls are present today, smiling and shaking hands in the way that candidates do.
Darryl Wolk, the first greyhound out of the trap, has already declared himself a candidate and will no doubt be handing in his nomination papers tomorrow in the first light of dawn.
It is deliciously cool in the Council Chamber but outside it is as humid as the Amazon. In wanders a very hot Wolk, attired in suit and tie and with glinting beads of perspiration on his forehead. He is backed by Chris Campbell the self styled “runner-up” in the two candidate race for Mayor in 2014.
A grinning Wolk spots me and thrusts out his arm to shake my hand. I oblige.
Wolk, who challenged John Taylor for Regional Councillor in 2014, desperately wants to get on the council so he can (a) shake the place up and (b) torture Tony Van Bynen, exquisitely slowly and at length, about his Mayoral salary.
But, to be fair, Wolk also has very firm views about Ward 5 and the difference he believes he can make. He is against Forrest’s Clock Tower proposal so, on this one at least, he is on the side of the angels.
I see another hopeful.
John Heckbert, wearing his trademark suspenders, was runner-up in Ward 5 at the last election. He too shakes my hand and gives me a nod of recognition.
If today’s Special Council meeting had defied convention and opted to appoint a councillor then the eager Heckbert would have been hovering in the wings, waiting for the call.
Heckbert is also opposed to Forrest’s Clock Tower.
Where are the candidates who will be supporting Bob Forrest's monstrous seven storey apartment building in the heart of the downtown heritage conservation district? Are we going to see any emerge from the undergrowth? Will anyone have the nerve to echo Van Bynen who told us the Clock Tower is a great example of the intensification we need?
Along the row from me sits the dark horse candidate, Bob Kwapis. I sidle along and sit next to him and introduce myself.
I know he has reservations about the Clock Tower but he is waiting until his nomination papers go in before giving chapter and verse. We are all waiting with great anticipation for his detailed views.
Clock Tower decision now delayed until after 17 October 2016
It is now clear that Forrest’s planning application will not be considered until after the by-election. (It was penciled in for 29 August 2016).
Today John Taylor tells his colleagues:
“If you look at Ward 5 there are some important issues it faces and, obviously, the Clock Tower is one of those. And I think that to ensure that the representative of the people of that Ward when that decision is made is someone who is elected and chosen by the people I think is important… It will give the Ward the opportunity to engage in the conversation about several important topics in the downtown and Quaker Hill etc and I think it will be a healthy and robust conversation I’m sure.”
It is perfectly obvious we need a Ward 5 candidates’ debate where all the hopefuls can be pitched against each other. The Clock Tower is a huge issue – and not just for the ward but for the Town as a whole.
Trinity United Church, a stone's throw from Forrest's proposed development, has expressed grave concerns about the possible impact on the fabric of the Church building, its foundations and its priceless stained glass windows.
This by-election gives us a heaven sent opportunity to hear from local people.