The Nelson Star has conducted phone interviews with each of the Nelson-Creston election candidates, using the same four questions, which we did not communicate to them in advance.
We then gave each candidate a bonus question of their choice.
The candidates’ responses are edited for brevity.
This interview is with BC Green candidate Nicole Charlwood.
What do you think the province should do about the following issues, locally and provincially?
The opioid crisis
We’re really in need of assisted living options.
A clean drug supply is obviously a piece of it, and it feels to me like there is support for that.
At a local level, there’s a lot of work being done, efforts combined with Interior Health and ANKORS in the city, but one of the challenges is for assisted living, and finding the land to build that kind of housing.
Across all sectors, mental health is significantly underfunded, and our party is committed to a billion dollars just for that particular focus alone.
Cleaning up and rehabilitating our forest is my quick answer, and it could be an economic opportunity in our riding. It is something that affects every community.
Forestry practices are something that needs serious reform and that’s where wildfire mitigation would lie. We need to look at how are we removing our trees from the forest, and is that sustainable, and with a long-term vision. We would argue that no, we’re not actually already doing that in our forests.
Greenhouse gas emissions
A lot of our tax dollars are going into supporting fossil fuel extraction.
Even if we were to reduce our emissions in every other industry in this province by 2050, we’ll still be 160 per cent higher in emissions than we’ve committed to be internationally. Locally, we can very quickly start renovating and retrofitting all of our buildings and houses to be more energy efficient. We can look at our transportation and waste reduction. With composting coming online locally, that will help a lot.
But at the end of the day, if we don’t reform our subsidies to the fossil fuel industry we’re not going to be able to reduce our emissions to the levels of mitigation we need.
In 10 years, 50 per cent of us will be seniors, so we need to plan for that.
So is staying at home the goal, or do we want to free up some of the larger houses that maybe aren’t filled with people and provide high quality senior housing?
It’s really about investing in assisted living, and I’m thinking about seniors, and about those who are suffering in the opioid crisis, and about young people who are aging, and about affordability.
The Green Party is talking about subsidizing renters, and that is only a short-term solution, because we also don’t want to keep financing high rent. And if we’re just subsidizing renters, we’re not discouraging the high rent situation.
If we build much more public housing and make it accessible across the range of demographics, for the people who need it, then we actually put pressure on the private rental economy to bring prices down, because then there’s competition for quality housing that we don’t rely on in the private sector.
Charlwood’s bonus issue: Funding for municipalities
Municipalities, and that includes the regional districts, are expected to carry about 80 per cent of the responsibilities that taxpayers expect, yet they are given 10 per cent of the funding to do so. I would look to redirecting autonomy to communities, and the funding to support it.
The feds have more money than any of us. And a big piece of what I would see my work being would be advocating for more of that funding to get sent into communities for self-determination.
Why are we getting all of our direction centrally, when they’re designed more for big cities, and we know we have very unique needs and communities.