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Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts all-candidates virtual forum

More than 30 people tuned into the two-hour webinar, which saw nearly 20 subjects explored
Nelson-Creston Green Party candidate Nicole Charlwood speaks during the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce’s all-candidate virtual forum on Oct. 21. Photo: Aaron Hemens

All four candidates of the Nelson-Creston riding participated in an online forum that was hosted by the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 20, where each candidate had the opportunity to offer their stance on a number of topics such as housing, tourism, education and more.

More than 30 people tuned into the two-hour webinar, which saw nearly 20 subjects explored. Each candidate had a maximum of two minutes to respond to questions that were generated by audience members and forum organizers.

Climate change and clean energy: Does your party support the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry?

Liberal Party candidate Tanya Finley said that the BC Liberals “absolutely” support this form of transition fuel.

“We can’t be turning off people’s heat right now. There are people that are homeless, and we’re not going to do that to people with homes,” said Finley. “This is the transition fuel, and we’ll be looking at all models and see how we’ll be working with that.”

Green Party candidate Nicole Charlwood said that the party supports the transition from LNG and retraining workers in the industry to help them find work in clean energy.

“There will be lots of work in the LNG sector. What I don’t support is the consistent subsidization of the industry if it can’t run on itself. Economically, it’s not really a viable industry,” said Charlwood.

“There’s not a market for LNG that we thought there was. Using some of the subsidies, we’re giving to that industry right now to help transition it and transition our economy to a green one. That is a priority for us.”

Libertarian Party candidate Terry Tiessen said that his party “definitely supports the LNG pipeline.”

“We are very pro-job and pro-industry. This can be done safely and reliably. As British Columbians, we need to be looking at all the resources available to us, so we would support this pipeline,” said Tiessen. “If it’s a failing business, don’t subsidize it. We definitely can’t just go in and start cutting energy off without an infrastructure to pick up that energy demand on the other end.”

NDP candidate Brittny Anderson said that while she wishes that we were living in a post-fossil fuel era, LNG is still a transition fuel that is within the CleanBC plan.

“We are committed to transitioning to a post-fossil fuel society. I’ve been working on 100 per cent renewable Kootenays for the last two years through my work with Nelson City Council, and I know that this is the future for us,” said Anderson.

“We need to get there, and unfortunately, fossil fuels are still part of our reality. … This is all a part of the transition that we are all a part of. We need to bring people along with us, we need to make sure it’s affordable, and we need to make sure that we have a clean, sustainable and prosperous future for our children and their children.”

What will your party do to support tourism businesses throughout the pandemic?

Anderson said that what locals need to do is have a stay-cation — go out and enjoy local businesses.

“As we shop for the holidays, make sure that you’re purchasing products that are local,” she said. “Support your crafters, artisans. Go out for a meal. These are all very important ways to stimulate our local economy.”

Similarly, Finley said that residents need to continue to support local.

“We need to be looking at what businesses want, so we need to support this and we need to move forward with all these things,” she said. “I will personally be watching very carefully. It affects me, my home, my business and all my friends.”

Charlwood echoed their sentiments, highlighting the importance of community support community.

“In terms of our party, we’ve identified some of the gaps of funding that was not able to get to our small businesses, so immediately would offer rental support for those small businesses and target the needs of the tourism industry with additional grant funding that we’d like to make available,” she said.

However, Tiessen said government needs to stand clear and allow businesses to continue as usual.

“Lift this state of emergency and stop telling people what to do. We’re grown-ups, we know how to live,” he said. “We do care about each other, it’s not that certain people are selfish for believing a certain way. We just have different ways of looking at it.”

The majority of the candidates are from the Nelson area. How do you plan to consult and address issues in Creston? How do you plan to make yourself available?

Finley highlighted the graciousness expressed by community members during her campaign travels, and said that she plans to be readily available to all in the Creston Valley.

“You will have my cell phone number. I will not neglect you. You will see my face and I will continue to be there,” she said. “I will not forget you over there. You will personally have my cell phone number if you require something.”

Charlwood said that she’s open to the idea of opening an office in Creston, as well as creating an online platform to better connect with Crestonians.

“I would like to see an improvement in an online platform to collect and connect with people throughout the riding so that we can actually track what we’re hearing about concerns. We can track, look for trends and help to inform how I would represent in the legislature for our riding,” she said.

Tiessen described himself as a people-person and said that he is committed to making himself accessible to everyone.

“I would love to talk to each and every one of you. … I would definitely want to be 24-7 on call. I don’t know what that would look like, whether it be with my personal phone number or not,” he said.

Anderson said that she’s toying with the idea of hosting “Road trip Wednesdays,” where she would spend the day travelling throughout the riding. She added that she’s interested in connecting with the community on mobile and online platforms as well.

“I love being in community, connecting with people, see them and meet them where they’re at. I think it’s really important,” she said.

Education: If the people of Creston elect three school district trustees dedicated to returning the Creston Valley family of schools back to our own district in the 2022 school board elections, what are you willing to do to help?

Charlwood said the Greens are all about local community autonomy and decision making.

“I would support it if there was a call in Creston. … We’d like to see a huge investment in education generally, and I think that would support the ability for there to be smaller school boards or ones that are addressing local needs,” she said.

“We have a variety in Creston communities that want to have their own unique education or options, and I feel that the system we have right now doesn’t allow for that easily. If local autonomy would help, I’m supportive.”

In a similar vein, Tiessen said that libertarians are all for self-determination, autonomy and small local governments.

“Libertarians are huge on small local governments,” he said. “We’re right on board for Creston to put forward the three trustees, and I would do everything in my power to support you in getting your self-determination back.”

Anderson said that if there is support for having an autonomous, separated school district, then she would “absolutely be supporting that transition.”

Finley agreed with the three, saying if Creston wants this, “that it would be fantastic.”

We’ve seen the loss of greyhound transportation to neighbouring communities, including essential travel for medical, education, etc. Does your party have a plan to address this issue?

Finley said that she believes government should be putting a front-in investment for transportation.

“I feel this ties into housing and affordable living as well. We have a huge region here, and every place has limited housing supplies. If we hire transportation, wifi-access to those things, then we’ll be able to manage two things at one time,” she said.

Charlwood said that clean energy transportation is a vital investment that needs to happen.

“We know that seniors and other community members in more remote communities are struggling to get to the health care services they need because of this cut in transportation, so that is a gap that does need to be filled again,” she said.

“What we can really do to make it more efficient is improving transport to medical services when we can’t provide them in communities properly.”

Tiessen said that the plan is to clear the log jam that is the Passenger Transportation Board.

“They have so many regulations and economic barriers to get into this industry. It’s next to impossible to compete or have a vibrant transportation industry, so right off the bat our solutions would be free-market economics and close the transportation board,” he said.

Anderson said that the focus is on expanding health care services in rural areas and improving transportation options for medical patients.

“It’s also really beneficial to move off of fossil fuels and out of our own vehicles into public transit services, so I definitely want to see stronger, rural transit options that get us within our communities locally and then beyond into those centres that we rely on for health care and visiting family and friends,” she said.

Affordable housing: How would your party help with the rental and low-income crisis in our riding?

Charlwood highlighted that several housing needs lie in the assisted living realm.

“We’re talking about children who age out of foster care who can’t necessarily get a house or apartment,” she said. “Of course, there are seniors and we have an ageing population that is going to need care.”

Anderson said that her focus is on creating more units.

“What has been created is not enough, and we need units across our region, across our riding. We need housing for students, families and seniors,” she said. “I know that we need to see supportive housing in our region to help with the homelessness population and for people who are really struggling; the most vulnerable populations in our society.”

Tiessen said that one of the first things that government needs to do is make B.C. more affordable.

“Everything is so expensive — housing, food, transportation. The original regressive tax cuts would greatly impact the construction industry and the production of more houses,” he said. “This would bring down the price of building a house, as well as give more money to people buying the house so that they can meet in the middle.”

Finley emphasized that affordable housing is a huge problem, and that her plan is to look at the red tape of things.

“Builders need to build, and we need to remove the red tape. … Houses are extremely expensive if you’re building multi-dwellings, and it’s unrealistic for what’s happening,” she said.


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