Ann Baker of Keewatin says she'd like to see improvements in housing, so her granddaughter -- who's a single mother with a four-year-old -- can find an affordable place to live.
"They talk about bringing all these people in, but where are they gonna go?" she asked. "There's people here right now looking for a place."
A lack of housing is seen -- not only as a social issue -- but also as an obstacle to economic growth and job creation across the district. After last week's forum sponsored by the chamber of commerce in Kenora, seniors wanted the 16 candidates -- two for mayor and 14 for a councillor's seat -- to focus on a single issue.
Dan Reynard is running for mayor, and he agrees housing is their top priority.
"That's been the focus of my campaign from the start. As I mentionned, every issue that comes before us, it centres on housing," he said.
Carolyn Hudson from the seniors coalition in Kenora says housing's the main issue for them, as they get ready to vote this fall.
"Bottom line is we know people who have been waiting for four years for accessible, affordable housing," she said.
Incumbent councillor Mort Goss says they've worked hard on improving the climate for developers.
"I'd be embarassed to stand here asking for re-election, if I didn't think that we'd made major progress on those fronts," he said.
Kirsi Ralko is running for a seat on Kenora city council, and she says her training as a lawyer can help the community.
"There are developers who would like to build here, and I would like to see them facilitated, rather than deterred," she said.
Graham Chaze is also running, and he says his experience as a real estate agent -- who has experience on the city's planning commission -- would also help.
"If we take the approach of having to slow things down to analyze and make sure we're doing things the way we've always been doing them -- that we're not upsetting anyone -- developers leave," he said.
Voting day is set for Oct. 22, but advance voting starts next Tuesday, Oct. 9, with votes being cast by phone or through the internet this fall.
Incumbents Rory McMillan, Colin Wasacase and Sharon Smith are running for another term. In their last term, McMillan says they developed a vision for 2020, along with a plan to be more open for business.
Wasacase, now in his 80s, has served on municipal councils for more than 40 years, and he said we're stronger together as a community, when we cooperate. Smith says their new city plan will showcase opportunities, review available land and development regulations, while working with the district services board.
Andrew Poirier, Chris Van Walleghem and Rod McKay are hoping to return to council. Poirier says strong partnerships with the district services board, provincial and federal governments are key, along with a more flexible approach to zoning.
Van Walleghem would like to see more apartments or suites made available in homes, along with more work with the district services board. McKay would like to see a one-stop shop made available, as the city improved the climate for business.
Jennifer McKibbon has served on council in Red Lake, and she's also served as the co-chair for the advocacy group Making Kenora Home. Businessman Eric Lovas is hoping to become a new member of council, while Lydia Harlos is running again for the mayor's chair.
Candidate for council Anthony Leek wasn't able to attend. He has served on township council in Emo and run for MPP, before moving to Kenora, where he's led the creation of Lake of the Woods Speedway.
Former city employee and oil patch worker Dale Pearson, 62, was late arriving. When given the chance to speak, he predicted public works at the city would be privatized. If elected, he said he could help take the politics out of public works and help it become more efficient. He referred voters to his Facebook page, then left for another meeting.
Lee-Anne Carver had to leave early, saying her dog had an emergency appointment with the vet. If elected, she said she'd advocate for low income residents and those in need. As an example, she'd like to see homes created, instead of the twinning of the rec centre rink.
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