Sonia Furstenau, Green Party


Campaign Office: 101, 1760 Shawnigan-Mill Bay Road, Shawnigan Lake
Facebook: Sonia4Cowichan
Twitter: soniafurstenau
Instagram: soniafurstenau
Green Party Platform


1. How do you plan to address the affordable housing issue across the Cowichan Valley?

I attended the March 6th Forum on Homelessness and the follow up session on March 29th.
What was evident was the desire to see effective action, and the need to coordinate the efforts
of all the agencies and groups so that we are working together to achieve concrete outcomes. I
shared the team model we developed in Shawnigan as an example of how to coordinate efforts.
BC Greens recognize that we need a range of approaches - from a poverty reduction strategy to
ensuring that people have incomes that can properly support families. Greens also propose a
housing-first strategy and piloting a basic income proposal.

2. How would you transition to a sustainable economy that will support local business and create reliable, living wage jobs for residents in Cowichan?

BC Greens have released our platform on the New Economy - an approach to creating a
sustainable economy that puts well-being and health of people first. The many initiatives to
create a fairer and more robust economy include modernizing labour laws to ensure more
security for workers, investing up to $70 million over four years to support entrepreneurs in BC,
and investing in clean energy and transportation - particularly initiatives that will create jobs
without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. At the heart of our platform is support for small
and medium sized businesses - including seed funding for entrepreneurs and creating business
incubators, accelerators, and affordable spaces. 

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?

BC Greens support lifelong learning and affordable education for all. Our approach will provide
free childcare for children under three, free early childhood education for 3-4 year olds, and an
increase to K-12 public education of $200 million (above the $330 million mandated by the
Supreme Court of Canada). Greens will also invest in adult education and introduce funding to
alleviate student debt. A vibrant society and thriving economy needs a strong foundation in
publicly funded education. Finally, we will invest $65 million over four years to support co-op
and work experience programs for high school and undergraduate students. 

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?

The greatest challenge we face is climate change. The BC Green platform on climate will make
BC a global leader in facing this challenge - and ensure that we meet our moral obligation to
leave our world a better one for future generations. Greens will increase the price on carbon
pollution and include fugitive emissions, and incorporate policies that encourage low-carbon
choices for residents and businesses, and promote a thriving clean energy sector for BC. Greens
will not support LNG, fracking, additional fossil fuel infrastructure, or increased tanker traffic on
our coasts, and we are committed to stopping Site C.

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?

The CVRD Board was very forward thinking when it decided, several years ago, to begin setting
aside funds for a new hospital. A new hospital, and a proper hospice, will help improve
healthcare delivery in our region, and I will be a champion for both. We also need better care for
seniors - including residences in the many communities around the valley. Greens are
committed to investing in not-for-profit seniors’ care. Finally, Greens see health as connected to
everything - so, better community planning, accessible public transportation, and protection of
our ecosytems will all make our lives healthier.

6. If elected, how will you support moving forward on reconciliation with First Nations in British Columbia locally within our riding?

Developing authentic relationships built on trust and understanding is essential to reconciliation
with First Nations. In Shawnigan, we are incredibly grateful to the Cowichan Tribes and Malahat
First Nation for standing with us in our efforts to protect the Shawnigan watershed. I will
continue to develop relationships with all First Nations in the Cowichan Valley. The provincial
government cannot continue to make resource and land decisions without full and authentic
collaboration with First Nations, for we need to ensure that the opportunity to thrive is available
to all citizens of BC. We are in this together.

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?

Bringing all jurisdictions and all agencies to the table is essential for moving forward with
effective decision-making. This is the approach I have used in Shawnigan for issues ranging from
protection of our watershed to road and safety issues. I would continue to approach my role in
the same way: developing strong relationships with all agencies, and working in a collaborative,
cooperative way with everybody. Our BC Green platform includes action to protect
communities from the impacts of climate change - protecting the Cowichan River and the
salmon habitat are crucial for the Cowichan Valley.

8. What made you decide to run in this election?

I spent the last four years of my life working tirelessly to have the permit cancelled that allowed
dumping of 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil in our watershed. I decided to run for MLA in
large part because of this experience, and because I want to do everything I can to ensure that
no other community has to go through what we went through. I care deeply about this
community, this province, and this planet - and I want to bring a new voice to the BC Legislature
that truly represents the people, and the future generations, of Cowichan Valley.


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