All three candidates for Iqaluit mayor say they are hesitant to borrow $40 million to build a new aquatic centre.
At the Oct. 15 municipal election, in addition to ballots for mayor and council, the city will also ask Iqaluit’s 500 or so registered property taxpayers for permission to borrow the money.
At an all-candidates forum Monday night at the Arctic Winter Games arena, mayoral candidate Al Hayward said he is in favour of the project but the city has other infrastructure needs that need to be addressed, such as the landfill and the graveyard.
"I will not borrow $40 million for this project," he said. "I will only borrow enough money to make sure this project is completed."
Candidate John Graham also recognized the money needed for water and roads.
"It's all got to be done, but we have to set some basic priorities here," he said. "I'll vote for the aquatic centre, but I'll see that we do it for $20 million instead of $40 million."
Noah Papatsie, the only mayoral candidate who doesn't own a home and won't vote in the referendum, said he's lukewarm to the whole idea of a pool and a ratepayers referendum.
"I'm on both sides; I haven't made a decision yet," he said. "If everyone's involved, ratepayers, homeowners, and people who live in Iqaluit, maybe we can come up with a better solution."
Papatsie also touched on the need for a new landfill, better roads, and more daycare space.
Candidates reject mayor’s pay raise
At least two of the three candidates for Iqaluit mayor also say they’re opposed to a salary increase for the job.
City council approved an increase to the mayor's salary to $109,000 from $70,000 in July.
Hayward said, if elected, he'll try to get the law changed back. And until he can, he'll donate the difference to charity.
"The City of Iqaluit with just over 7,000 people should not be making more than the City of Toronto's mayor, the City of Halifax's mayor, or the City of Vancouver."
Papatsie also said he's opposed to the pay increase.
"I wouldn't accept it," he said. "I would feel very uncomfortable working with people if I was making more than everybody, but there is always a solution to try and fix it."
Graham said he wasn't sure if he would accept the pay increase or not.