1. How do you plan to address the affordable housing issue across the Cowichan Valley?
I would encourage non-profits to build more rental units, as in the Ladysmith Lions Seniors Housing project, and those built by Rotary and Kiwanis in Chemainus. I would work with First Nations, co-operatives and the private sector to expand our current housing stock, and push for renovation and retrofitting of older buildings to provide more and better affordable housing. In addition, I would work with municipalities and regional districts to modify zoning to permit legal suites where such legislation does not already exist. I would also work to introduce financial incentives for the construction of more rental units.
2. How would you transition to a sustainable economy that will support local business and create reliable, living wage jobs for residents in Cowichan?
I would encourage the procurement of local goods and services, as well as promote the tech industry, tourism and arts. Ecotourism activities such as scuba diving, kayaking, and whale-watching bring sustainable dollars to our coastal communities. Also, if raw logs were not exported, we could develop an integrated wood processing industry that would be a benefit to local economies. Farming is also an important part of the Cowichan Valley, but we need to improve access to farmland and develop new models of farm tenure so that more young people can take up farming as a career.
3. What do you consider to be the top priorities for improving education and, if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
I would make sure that education funds would go to public schools, not private ones, and that funds would be targeted at schools with the greatest need. Adult Basic Education should be made free again, and government funding to public education increased. I would also encourage the investment in nutritional and physical education programs, so that children are ready and able to learn. As your Green MLA I would also work to encourage more recruitment and training of First Nations teachers to work with indigenous children in our schools.
4. What do you consider to be the top priorities for sustaining a healthy environment and, if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
We need to take back control of our local watersheds by buying the lands owned in the upper watersheds to make them publicly, not privately-owned. We must manage forestry to sustain local ecological protection; right now, because of deforestation, we are losing too much too much of our clean water. With transportation, I would promote use of the existing train track between Nanaimo and Esquimalt with either commuter rail or efficient bike paths, and work with the Nanaimo Regional District to get a bus from Ladysmith to the airport and on to South Nanaimo.
5. What do you consider to be the top priorities for better health care in Cowichan and if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
We need more storefront health facilities in towns like Crofton, Chemainus, and Ladysmith, so that people do not have to go to Victoria or Nanaimo, and a new Cowichan Hospital. We also need to address the imbalance of health professionals between Victoria and Nanaimo North Cowichan. There are 22 oncologists in Victoria, and none in the central island. Our health care system should be focused on wellness promotion, rather than treatment of illness. For example, we can make our kids healthier through great nutrition education programs at schools and encourage parents to grow veggies and use local fruit.
6. If elected, how will you support moving forward on reconciliation with First Nations in British Columbia locally within our riding?
I would work to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission locally. I would honour existing treaty rights and work in good faith with local First Nations and the federal government to settle their outstanding claims and enact historic treaties. I would engage with First Nations as partners to ensure just consultation and accommodation of their aspirations and co-management and equitable sharing of the natural resources on their traditional territories. As a mark of respect, I would encourage the use of indigenous languages and the changing of street and place names as has been done in other communities.
7. One Cowichan has been facilitating a petition for the federal government to allocate adaptation to climate change infrastructure funds to raise the Cowichan weir for the Cowichan River. How will you work to bring the provincial government to the table as an active partner to move this initiative forward?
I will do everything in my power to get the provincial government to the table, but all levels of government must work together so that this issue can be finally resolved. The changing climate has led to less snow and unpredictable rainfall in spring and summer, causing droughts that lower the water levels and endanger the salmon in the Cowichan River. The weir was built in 1957. Conditions have changed dramatically since then. It is long past time that action was taken on this. The weir needs to be raised, and raised now.
8. What made you decide to run in this election?
I was prompted to run by a sense of urgency, and an underlying disgust with both the Liberals and the New Democrats. I could see government administrators at the trough helping themselves and ignoring the electorate. Kids dying in foster care, people dying on the street from fentanyl, hunger and homelessness, while we are being fed propaganda that B.C. has the strongest economy in the country. I don’t see it. I am motivated by a compelling drive to step up and make a fundamental difference in the world. The status quo is not good enough.