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Virtual forum features candidates for regional council, mayor

Cambridge Chamber of Commerce hosts virtual forum with regional council candidates, mayoral candidates and two vying for regional chair

The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual forum with the city's mayoral and regional council candidates Thursday.

The question-and-answer session was posted to its YouTube channel and is embedded below.

Hosted by CityNews570 news director James Sebastian Scott and sponsored by the Waterloo Association of Realtors, the two hour and 18 minute video features candidates for the two regional council positions representing Cambridge, Doug Craig, Pam Wolf, Bobbi Stewart, Tyler Calver, and Prakash Venkataraman, answering a series of questions "of particular concern to businesses and employers across the Region of Waterloo."

The format didn't allow for rebuttals to a candidate's answers given by another candidate.

In response to a question about infrastructure priorities, Craig said managing the stress on the city's road system is among his priorities, including the idea of a ring road "that has been put on the back burner" by the region. 

Stewart agreed the current tax structure can't support infrastructure projects Cambridge needs. "The province has a municipal Ontario partnership fund," she said. "We can explore that."

Asked what he would do to get the region's LRT project moving in Cambridge, Venkataraman said the city is already suffering from an inefficient transit system compared to Kitchener and Waterloo. "We need to think about how we're going to interconnect the city first," he said.

In response to a question about support to businesses "hanging by a thread" after two years of pandemic restrictions, Wolf said she would encourage the province to bring back the small business relief grant, and the region and the city to waive interest on taxes owed, for at least six months to allow businesses time to recover.

Asked if he would support the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act being implemented in the region, Calver said he agrees with the goals of the act to build 1.5 million new homes in the province by 2031, including the infrastructure to support that growth in Toronto and Ottawa. "I do not believe it's necessary in Waterloo Region, and especially for a city like Cambridge." He wants to see the red tape and the "burden currently put on developers" removed for all projects that include affordable housing.

Questions of the mayoral candidates begin at 49 minutes in. Kathryn McGarry, Jan Liggett and Randy Carter participated.

At 1:44, viewers can hear answers from Karen Redman, who is seeking re-election as regional chair, and her opponent, Narine Dat Sookram.