The Portage and District Chamber of Commerce invited business owners to meet and greet the candidates in the provincial election taking place next week.
Chamber executive director Stefanie Dunn says it was for Chamber members and took place at Prairie Fusion Arts and Entertainment. She explains they wanted to give their members an opportunity to have a one-on-one sit-down with candidates and ask their burning questions, which will be pertinent to how they continue their operations as business owners. Dunn says this also gave agricultural and non-profit members the same chance.
"I just really wanted to allow my membership-focused time with the candidates," says Dunn. "They could get their questions out there in a casual environment and get the answers that they need. The Chamber has typically partnered with PCRC (Portage Community Revitalization Corporation) to run a forum and we're going with a different format this year."
Dunn says this was the case, seeing as September is a particularly busy time of year for businesses.
"We wanted people to have access to information at a time that suited them.
I think there was a good turnout today and I'm glad to see our community engaged in this election."
McMunn and Yates store manager Natasha Ralph says these opportunities are crucial for people such as herself.
"Just to get that one-on-one time and kind of get their thoughts on where they stand on certain things that are pertinent to our business to us, as people, as a community, was important," says Ralph. "I asked questions about plans for growth in the community, alternatives to energy; kind of where people stand on that -- just that the hot topics and just kind of see where everybody stands on it is. It's good to know."
Melissa Morrison is executive director for the Family Resource Centre, and says it's about helping candidates build recognition of issues in Portage.
"For us, in particular right now, it's just good to help folks recognize the fact that places like Family Resource Centres are big-staple pieces of a community, and we're not funded by the province as a whole," says Morrison. "That's something to provide continuity and resources to families, not just in Portage, but in Manitoba and across Canada. It's something that politically should be looked at as something that should be funded."
PC candidate Jeff Bereza and Green Party candidate Arisyha Aggarwal were present to answer questions.
Dunn adds PCRC is also working with the chamber to create a video series of interviews with the candidates.
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