The final debate for Ward 26 council candidates ahead of the Oct. 27 municipal election turned out to be the most cordial of them all, as few accusations were lobbed and no arguments ensued Tuesday night at Leaside Gardens Arena.
The debate, held in the William Lea Room, was put on by the Leaside Property Owners Association. It featured incumbent John Parker facing off against three of his five challengers: business owner Jon Burnside, ACTRA president David Sparrow and Ishrath Velshi, former executive assistant to Parker.
In two previous debates, challengers and moderators had given Parker a hard time, but this time the candidates were less willing to engage the two-term representative.
The closest came midway through when Burnside, who finished a close second to Parker in 2010, suggested the incumbent “didn’t negotiate” for maximum Section 37 money when the Smart Centre development at Laird Drive and Wicksteed Avenue moved in last year.
“There was a lot of money left on the table,” Burnside said, citing figures that suggested the community ultimately received only $1 million of a potential $2.5 million.
The Town Crier was not able to verify those figures.
Parker said he had no hand in the matter, as per council rules.
“One of the things the local councillor does not do is he does not sit down at the table and negotiate Section 37 money,” he said. “That’s done by city staff, that’s done by professionals who know what they’re doing when it comes to Section 37.
“People can claim all kinds of things, but it’s the professionals at the city who know their way around these things who do those negotiations.”
The four candidates otherwise stuck to their usual talking points, with Parker explaining processes and talking about changes he’s brought about, Burnside promising to be more engaged with the community, Sparrow saying he’ll fight big-box developments and Velshi citing her work over the last five years at City Hall.
Candidates Wasim Vania and Dimitre Popov were not invited, nor did they ask to be included, a spokesperson for the LPOA said.
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