Burlington City Council candidates hold forums on livability

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Candidates running for the Burlington City Council are sharing their plans to improve quality of life in the Queen City.

Tuesday night was the first "Livability Forum." Two incumbent councilors-- Brian Pine, P-Ward 3, and Max Tracy, P-Ward 2, joined one new challenger, Ryan Nick, to answer 13 questions on housing, transportation and economic development.

People in the crowd said housing is their top concern. They want to know how the City Council plans to balance the housing needs of both young people and seniors.

Resident Joe Speidel thinks the city should allow people to rent out unused spaces in their homes called accessory dwelling units.

“That's important, I think, because you want to allow people to maybe move out of a larger house if they're getting older into a smaller place or to have someone from their family move into that and have that as a source of income,” said Speidel.

Megan Humphrey lives in Ward 2 and runs a nonprofit for seniors. She says a lot of them want to “age in place.” That means they don’t want to move out of their current home. She says aging in place would be easier if housing were cheaper, the city was more walkable and emergency services were more accessible.

"We have 12,000 seniors in Burlington alone, that's a lot of people. That's a big number,” said Humphrey. “It would be nice if they could live there and not have a tax burden that's really high and be able to get services, be able to get around and get to the grocery store, things like that.”

The next livability forum will be held on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the YMCA. Incumbent councilor Sharon Bushor, I-Ward 1, and newcomers Zoraya Hightower and Jillian Scannell will be answering questions. Candidates from the New North End, Wards 4 and 7, are up next Wednesday. They are incumbent councilor Ali Dieng, D/P-Ward 7, and newcomers Sarah Carpenter and Ericka Redic. That forum will be held at the Miller Center at 6 p.m.