By Raelynn Gibson and Judy O’Leary
The municipal elections are coming up on Saturday, Oct. 15. Should you bother to vote? Yes, and here’s why we think it’s important.
Do you drive or cycle on local roads or take a bus? Hang out in a city or regional park in the summer? Do you drop off your recycling at one of the many depots? Do you count on local government to reduce wildfire risks and have an emergency plan if one strikes? If any of these issues concern you, then local government is for you.
After a few years of droughts, extreme heat, wildfires and smoke, and floods many of us are concerned about what local governments are doing on climate. Did you know local governments can influence over 50 per cent of emissions? And these emissions really impact our health and the health of our loved ones.
We at Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health Kootenay-Boundary and the West Kootenay Climate Hub wanted to learn where candidates in our region stand on issues around the climate crisis. We sent a survey out to over 200 candidates in the West Kootenay who are running for mayor, city council, school trustee, and area director in rural areas. Participation in the survey included six Creston mayoral and council candidates, as well as candidates for Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B director and school trustees. No matter where you live – a larger city or a smaller village, we hope the survey results will help you identify those champions who really care about these issues. You can see survey results at www.westkootenayclimatehub.ca/local-elections.
Have a look at whose views reflect what you feel should be done to address the climate crisis. Have a conversation with friends, family or colleagues. Read the newspaper. And navigate to candidates’ websites and social media pages to find the people you want to represent you.
It’s easy to vote – you can register on election day with two pieces of identification, provided you have lived in B.C. for six months. And remember, you don’t have to fill up the ballot with council candidates’ names if you don’t support them. Just vote for the people you want to get in. Voting only for those candidates means they have a better chance, and you’re not diluting your vote. Only one candidate speaks for you? Then vote only for that person. It’s okay. You can do that.
After the election, you’ll find that your local city councillors and school trustees are some of the most available politicians. If you have a concern or compliment, it’s easy to send them an email or phone them to discuss it.
We encourage everyone to vote in the upcoming election and vote for a healthy planet on Saturday, Oct. 15, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Advance voting is also available in most communities on Oct. 12.
Raelynn Gibson is a registered nurse representing Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health Kootenay-Boundary. Judy O’Leary is a member of West Kootenay Climate Hub.