(Photo: Rick Page)
It was standing room only at the Cadboro Bay Meet & Grill (or “Greet & Grill”, as the Times Colonist put it in its notice) of the fifteen candidates standing for election at the forthcoming council elections on November 15th.
Extra chairs were brought in to accommodate the crowd of around 240–250 residents, the choir chairs were added, the window ledge was full and still it was standing room only on Wednesday November 5th at the Cadboro Bay United Church.
After half an hour of greeting of the public by the candidates at the entrance to the sanctuary, the meeting began with opening remarks and acknowledgements by CBRA Chair Eric Dahli, and each candidate was given 2 minutes to stand up and introduce themselves.
Questions (most of which had been collated in advanced through our online questionnaire) were then posed to individual candidates based on random draws of their namecard, on a wide variety of questions about Cadboro Bay, Saanich and the CRD, including amalgamation, cellphone reception, Haro Woods protection, sewage, deer population, speed limits on roads, Cadboro-Gyro Park, trees and green spaces protection, village densification, and others. When these had all been asked and answered, two or three more questions were fielded from the audience, followed by a one-minute concluding appeal by each of the two mayoral candidates (incumbent Frank Leonard and newcomer Richard Attwell).
The random-selection format and two-minute limit kept the debate on track and allowed all issues to be aired and covered, and the audience engaged. Apart from one man who held up a small sign with some unclear writing who was asked to desist and chose to leave, there was no heckling or disruptions from the audience. Subsequent feedback from candidates and attendees was that this was a highly successful format.
Starbucks donated the coffee and the CBRA provided the juice and cookies. The CBRA would also like to thank the Saanich Civic League for its grant of $200 towards the event.
Update, Dec 10, 2014: Suggestions received on how to improve such evenings even more in future:
- Position the Membership sign-up table at the very entrance, so people can be signed up before going into the hall
- After calling on one or two candidates to reply to a given question by pulling their names out of the hat, open the question up to any candidate who may have expertise or other particular reason for answering (but given only, say, 3 coupons for which to do so)
- Candidates said that they would have been more comfortable if they had a table in front of them for notes & water etc.
- Have doors open to give people time to fill out membership forms and write questions before the session starts.