Between now and the provincial election on May 9, Powell River Peak is asking each of the three candidates in the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding a series of eight questions about issues that matter in the riding.
What are the most important issues facing our riding and why?
Kim Darwin, Green Party
[In addition to raising three wonderful children, Kim Darwin was a legal assistant for 16 years before opening her own mortgage broker business. She is president of the Sechelt Chamber of Commerce and was the elected provincial council secretary for the BC Green Party for two and a half years. She is an herbalist, having studied traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic and Western herbal medicine.]
My campaign launch included visiting coffee shops from Gibsons to Lund to hear the concerns that people want addressed by our provincial government. From one end of the Sunshine Coast to the other, common issues rang loud and clear; the most prevalent being the housing crisis, protection of our coastal waters and jobs that provide for economic stability without sacrificing our climate.
Housing affordability is about everyone having a roof over their heads. It is fundamental to safety and security. It means ensuring there are emergency shelters, transitional housing, special needs/supportive housing (such as residential seniors care), affordable rental options and affordable home ownership. When a person has reliable shelter, their health improves, meaning they are less reliant on our medical and social systems. We need our communities to come together to develop solutions that will work for us in each of our own regions. Solutions for the city of Vancouver won’t necessarily be the solutions that work for our communities. It is the government's job to support community-based decisions, not for communities to accept top-down government decisions.
What I love about protecting our water, air and land is that we now have the technology to sustain both our economic lives and preserve our environment. When we grow clean technology and renewable energy industries we create jobs for the 21st century that boost our economy while simultaneously tackling climate change. We can have well-paying jobs, foster a strong economy and protect the environment.
Nicholas Simons, BC New Democratic Party
[Nicholas Simons was first elected MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast in 2005. Before entering politics, Simons spent more than 15 years working in health, justice, social services and child welfare, including 10 years as director of health and social services for Sechelt (shíshálh) First Nation. Simons, an accomplished cellist, is also a past president of the Sunshine Coast Arts Council.]
A key issue facing our riding in 2017 is affordability. Government policies have brought huge cost-of-living increases in hydro, ICBC, ferries, and the Medical Services Plan. The current government claims it will lower MSP rates, but a New Democrat government under John Horgan would eliminate the premiums in our first term.
Businesses require a skilled workforce and public infrastructure to match their needs, efficient ferries, roads, and public transportation that promote rather than stifle economic growth, an education system that helps nurture healthy, successful citizens and affordable housing.
The New Democrats’ $10 per day child-care proposal is a strategic investment in children, reducing families’ financial burden and creating a lifetime of benefits for our communities.
Meanwhile, this government has not planned for the predictable growing number of seniors requiring long-term care, so are forcing for-profit arrangements on us, with lower standards of care, reduced caregiver wages, and fewer benefits. The NDP will invest in public care.
We need smart action on climate change. Instead of ruining food-growing land, infringing on first nations’ rights and threatening wildlife, our government will invest in real energy options, meet emissions targets and innovate in environmental policy. Using a portion of carbon tax revenues to reduce emissions will enable investment in transit, energy efficiency and clean technology.
Who trusts this government? Handouts to friends and insiders must stop, as must the fixation on an LNG fantasy. Meanwhile, programs for vulnerable children and marginalized groups have been hollowed out. We cannot afford another four years of this government.
Mathew Wilson, BC Liberal Party
[Raised on the Sunshine Coast, with family in Powell River, Mathew Wilson currently lives in Roberts Creek and is father to two daughters. He works for the federal government: 10 years in Ottawa, most recently five years commuting to work in Vancouver. Among his many experiences are five years of negotiating agreements with first nations on resource economic development and residential school claims.]
Over the last 12 years we have been falling behind others in British Columbia. We have not had an effective advocate working with government to make sure our riding is heard.
Home affordability, whether renting or purchasing, is an essential part of life. We have missed out on provincial funds for affordable housing. I will work on your behalf to secure them.
Economic development and job creation provide incomes for healthy families. Getting to a “yes” for meaningful investment within our community is critical.
Health care comprises the largest portion of the provincial budget, and we have an aging population. Every health region is competing for funding. I will work tirelessly with all funding authorities to make sure we receive our share of health funding to meet our needs.
Effective education requires access to lifelong learning and training opportunities. I will actively participate with all partners in funding education to make sure we receive all necessary monies from government.
Powell River will soon have a new, cleaner, LNG-fueled ferry. Now we need a strong MLA advocate to secure affordable fares and reliable service on all runs within the riding.
I commit to working with residents in Powell River and on the Sunshine Coast to develop a 10-year road and bus transportation strategy to protect the integrity of our neighbourhoods, and keep our families safe.
If you elect me on May 9, you will have a strong advocate as your MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast.
Next week’s question: What would you do to improve transportation to and from Powell River?