Ottawa·ELECTION 2018

Kanata North candidates struggle to differentiate themselves in debate

Candidates Jenna Sudds, David Gourlay, Matt Muirhead and Lorne Neufeldt have strikingly similar platforms, but small differences set them apart.

Five candidates are running to replace Coun. Marianne Wilkinson

From left to right, Lorne Neufeldt, Jenna Sudds, David Gourlay and Matt Muirhead. The candidates shared their platforms in at a forum in Kanata on Oct 1. (Laura Osman, CBC News )

All candidates at the Kanata North debate Monday night want to bring LRT to the west more quickly, curb neighbourhood speeding and give police more money for additional officers.

All four of them want to have a third party assess the success or failure of the mosquito levy before holding a referendum on whether to continue it.

And all want mixed income neighbourhoods.

The seat in Kanata North is wide open for the first time since the ward was created in 2006 now that Marianne Wilkinson has stepped aside

That leaves five candidates on the ballot to replace her. 

Candidates Jenna Sudds, David Gourlay, Matt Muirhead and Lorne Neufeldt have strikingly similar platforms, but small differences set them apart.

Candidate Philip Bloedow did not attend the debate.

While all the candidates agree slowing down the speed of traffic is a major issue in the ward, Muirhead stands apart in his approach.

Others promised photo radar in school zones and increased budgets for traffic calming measures like flex sticks and temporary speed humps.

But those measures can distract drivers from the road and cause drivers to veer to avoid the obstacles, Muirhead said. Often the root cause of the issue is the design of the roads, which are built too wide.

He does support flashing speed boards and suggested installing planters to narrow streets to slow traffic down.

Another polarizing prospect is whether or not to allow legal cannabis stores in Ottawa.

Most candidates agreed storefronts should be allowed but should be strongly regulated. Gourlay vowed to vote against storefront cannabis shops.  

"We can't compromise the safety and security of our children, and we can't rush into what is really the wild west," he said. 

While all candidates called for transportation improvements in Kanata, Sudds called for more specific changes in the next transportation master plan to be reviewed in the next term of council, including upgrades to Terry Fox Drive, March Road and the Campeau Drive extension. 

"These roads need to be studied and we need to make sure that we have the investments up into this master planning document so that we can move forward," she said. 

At the end of the debate, the moderator asked what sets the candidates what sets them apart, given their similar platforms.

While most candidates talked about their history of public service and roots in the community, Neufeldt took a different tact.

He is the only legally blind candidate in the election and said he has overcome many barriers.

He vowed to advocate for the diversity of needs in Kanata and be a voice for others with obstacles in their way.

"I'm not a polished politician, I'm just like every one of you," he said.

"We just need a regular citizen to go forward and to champion diversity."