Incumbent Victor Cumming welcomes 'robust exchange' as he seeks second term as mayor of Vernon

Cumming seeks 2nd term

The Oct. 15 municipal election is shaping up to be one of the testiest on record in the race for the mayor's chair in Vernon.

And that's just fine with incumbent Victor Cumming, who is being challenged for the job by two-term councillor Scott Anderson and Erik Olesen.

A skirmish of words is evolving between Anderson and Cumming, but the current mayor says a "robust exchange" of ideas is good for the election and the community.

"I think it's exciting," Cumming said. "People have different views and those who are running against me, at least one in particular, has significantly different views and is making them known to the public, which is great. I too have very different views than he, and I too am making them available to the public."

Cumming said he hopes discussion focuses on issues such as housing, investment, the climate, tourism and others facing the city.

"Climate change for me is a massive issue," he said.

Noting how wildfires last year impacted areas around Vernon, Cumming said it's important to look at how the Aberdeen Plateau is managed in terms of fuel load and fire breaks "so that our water, critical for both drinking and agriculture, doesn't suffer as they have where the White Rock Lake fire burned the hillside on the plateau."

Cumming also touched on the proposed $121-million Active Living Centre.

On Oct. 15, voters will decide in a referendum if the city can borrow the money to build the centre, which would be located at Kin Park, next to Kal Tire Place.

"Everybody would like it to cost less, absolutely everybody," said Cumming, noting the current aquatic centre was built in the 1960s and is need of replacement.

"Yes, this is expensive. Will it get more expensive in the future? Yes, so we need to build it now," Cumming said,

As Vernon continues to grow, there will be more people sharing the burden of the capital cost, he added.

Cumming said he appreciates how concerning rising taxes can be.

But, he also praised the city's 10-year infrastructure tax program, which has one year left and will pay off in the long run.

The 1.9 per cent tax levy for infrastructure replacement puts Vernon far ahead of other cities with crumbling infrastructure, he said.

"The critical thing is our infrastructure is not collapsing," Cumming said. "Other communities have not done this and they are in deep financial struggles. Nationally, it is unique. I know it is hard, and I know it created another 1.9 per cent every single year. We have one more year to do it, but it is critical for us to replace aging infrastructure – some is 100 years old."

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