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Stewart takes on Wilson in Coquitlam mayoral contest

In what may be shaping up as one of the more fierce fights for local office in British Columbia's Nov. 15 municipal elections, Coquitlam Coun. and former B.C. Liberal MLA Richard Stewart will take on Maxine Wilson for the mayor's job in Coquitlam.

Stewart is painting the campaign as a battle about leadership in a community where capital projects have gone over budget and suffered from long delays.

He points to a Coquitlam pool that was budgeted to cost $13.8 million, but ended up costing $20 million and was 18 months behind schedule.

With $200 million worth of capital projects in the works, Stewart says the government needs to make sure city hall is structured to handle these projects as cost-effectively as possible.

"The public does not have the confidence that the next project will not go over budget," he said. "We have to be responsible to the taxpayer to make sure we are spending their money wisely."

Wilson says public transit expansion, sustainable growth and immigration integration are key factors in a community where 40 per cent of residents are recent newcomers, 14 towers are being constructed and the population continues to grow.

The Evergreen Skytrain Line, which will connect to Douglas College in Coquitlam Centre, is a major breakthrough for the city, she said.

"There will be growth and it will be sustainable - and that is why everybody saw the need to get the Skytrain here," Wilson said.

She says the city is focused on fighting homelessness, creating affordable housing, preserving the Coquitlam River and building a sustainable financial plan.

On Nov. 15, residents in the City of Coquitlam will vote to elect a mayor, eight councillors and four school trustees.

Ethan Ribalkin reports for Vancouver's 24 Hours.

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