Bowen Q&A with West Vancouver Sea to Sky candidates

The following is a selection of questions from Bowen Islanders and from the Undercurrent. 

 

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Jordan Sturdy

BC Liberals

Jordan Sturdy
Jordan Sturdy

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Bowen Islanders and what will you do to address it? 

Bowen Island is under considerable financial and organizational capacity pressure. Water systems and sewer system replacements, road maintenance issues, capital projects such as the fire hall and the community center all put tremendous pressure on the municipal budget and the staff. 

Bowen Island is a small community in a unique setting with the pressures and expectations of a larger place. Access to financial supports from senior governments is important in order to not overburden local taxpayers while providing the necessary services to support community health and safety. Access to rural community funding formulas and small community grants will reduce the burden on the taxpayer and allow community ambitions to better be realized. BC Liberals also intend to make the biggest infrastructure investment in B.C. history, with a total investment of $30.9 billion over three years, including in transportation, hospitals, primary care clinics, seniors’ care homes, mental health treatment and affordable housing with benefits that will flow to small communities across B.C.

 

We’re in a climate crisis, what’s your government’s plan for B.C. and for our riding?

Seventy per cent of the energy consumed in British Columbia is a function of burning fossil fuels. The remaining 30 per cent is mostly clean electricity generated by BC Hydro. Forty-five per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions are tied to the transportation sector and initiatives to install more ZEV fuelling/charging infrastructure should be a priority. Low-carbon fuel standards are important and BC Ferries must be incentivized to electrify their fleet as it is renewed.  Buildings are significant contributors and step code requirements adopted and energy efficiency retrofits incentivized. Reforestation carbon sinks can help biodiversity and carbon sequestration as we transition away from fossil fuels.

 

What is your position on Woodfibre LNG in Squamish? How will your government ensure the safety of Bowen Island and Howe Sounders, particularly when it comes to tanker traffic? 

The Environmental Assessment Office accepted an application from WoodfibreLNG for a five-year extension to the Environmental Assessment Certificate issued Oct.26, 2015 so a decision on that extension will be issued shortly by the Environmental Assessment Office. If constructed, Woodfibre LNG will be one of the cleanest LNG terminals in the world and is generally supported by the BC Liberals.

Navigation, shipping and international trade fall under federal jurisdiction, such that the applicable regulations are within the responsibility of federal authorities, including the Canada Energy Regulator, Transport Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada. Regardless, environmental and safety standards must be world leading.

 

What can Bowen Islanders expect in terms of affordable housing support from your party?

Housing affordability is largely a function of supply and demand. 60,000 people a year arrive in B.C. so we need to continually increase supply to meet demand. It is important to rethink housing forms to increase density which fits into community. BC Liberals would continue to support BC Housing, incentivize municipalities with policies that increase supply, work with municipalities to improve tax and permitting processes, change BC Assessment classifications to separate out rental housing, put in place a no-net loss rental policy for redevelopment and make more public land available for affordable housing, and replace the speculation tax with a “flipping” tax.

 

There’s been a light shone on the systemic racism in our institutions this year but our representative will be a white man. How will you work in the interests of Black, Indigenous and people of colour? 

B.C. must be a place of opportunity and fairness for everyone. Every person should be free from discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or place of origin. Governments and the institutions they represent must “up their game,” and put in place policies that ensure that fairness and equity are lenses through which all programs and legislation are examined. Governments could in essence adopt a version of the Rotary four-way test. Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Is it be beneficial to all concerned?

 

What do you see as the three most pressing issues facing First Nations in our riding and how will you support them?

While all Aboriginal peoples in B.C. are likely to face racism and discrimination within the greater society, the Nations that reside in West Vancouver Sea to Sky all face unique challenges that are in part a function of the location of their territories. Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Lil’Wat, tend to benefit from economic opportunities associated with Whistler, Squamish and Vancouver while N’Quatqua, Samahquam, Skatin and Xa’xtsa in the northern parts of the riding and down the Lillooet River valley into Harrison Lake have very limited access to jobs, services, education and health care that puts tremendous stress on the communities.

 

How will your party support small businesses given the pandemic economy

Small business is the fundamental to B.C.’s economy. Within 60 days, BC Liberals would implement a new Economic Response Plan to create new jobs and investment and put money back in the pockets of businesses, by eliminating for a year the PST and the small business tax entirely. We would deliver emergency financing for B.C. businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, through a loan guarantee program for B.C.’s more than 19,000 hard-hit tourism and hospitality businesses. We will implement a short-term commercial-rent relief plan that flows directly to tenants, and supports small businesses unable to access current relief programs.

 

How will your party support youth and families in this time of high unemployment? 

For families, access to childcare can limit opportunities and income. The BC Liberals will implement a $1.1 billion plan to bring $10-a-day child care to families with household incomes of up to $65,000, and $20 or $30-a-day care, based on household income up to $125,000. We also intend to increase access to child care by building an additional 10,000 new child care spaces all across B.C. Strengthening the small business environment will allow businesses to survive the current crisis and ultimately grow into the future which provides employment opportunities and increasing compensation to workers.

 

What’s your party’s specific commitment to coastal communities as COVID-19 bites into BC Ferries’ revenues

BC Ferries is critical to the daily lives of coastal communities. BC Liberals would begin with a commitment to review ferry schedules with a goal of consistent hourly service on high-frequency routes. Over Performance Term 5, BC Ferries is on track to be losing money in the last two years of the term and will require additional funds to keep it whole. Given the current passenger loads and the forecast of several years before full load recovery, capital upgrades beyond safety measures such as electrification and the “right sizing” of ships are on hold. More investment is needed.

 

In the event of a vote in the legislature where there is a conflict between your party’s position and that of your constituents, how will you decide how to vote?

BC Liberals caucus operates on the premise of “no surprises” and as such is not “whipped”.” We are independent voices who are expected to represent their constituencies. When those interests are do not align with the consensus view of caucus, we simply need to inform our colleagues of our intentions.

 

 

 Keith Murdoch

BC NDPs

Keith Murdoch
Keith Murdoch

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Bowen Islanders and what will you do to address it? 

I have heard of several pressing issues from speaking with Bowen Islanders. One issue that has come up a few times is lack of access to on-island healthcare services. Many people are concerned about the limited healthcare services on Bowen Island and how difficult it is to access healthcare on the mainland, due to reliance on the ferries. This concern has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The BC NDP is planning to invest a record $2.3 billion more in healthcare over the next three years, more than twice as much as the Liberals or Greens. If elected, I will advocate for the need of a new provincially funded healthcare centre on Bowen Island.

 

We’re in a climate crisis, what’s your government’s plan for B.C. and for our riding?

The NDP passed the Climate Change Accountability Act to legally require government accountability on emission reduction targets and has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To accomplish this goal, we will require new buildings and retrofits to be more energy efficient; invest in carbon capture technologies; invest in public transportation – including regional public transportation on the Sea to Sky – to reduce vehicle emissions; move towards a net-zero emission bus fleet; phase-out single use plastics; provide rebates for electric vehicles; and, conduct a comprehensive review of all oil and natural gas royalty credits; amongst other initiatives.

 

What is your position on Woodfibre LNG in Squamish? How will your government ensure the safety of Bowen Island and Howe Sounders, particularly when it comes to tanker traffic?

All developments in B.C., including Woodfibre LNG, must meet the province’s strict environmental standards and comply with our CleanBC plan which ensures we move towards net zero carbon emissions. Together we are reducing carbon pollution and building a cleaner, stronger future. Any project that does not meet those requirements will not be approved. The NDP understands that an accident with tankers will cause serious damage to our local ecosystem. That is why we opposed the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. While the Federal government unfortunately has a different view, we will continue to fight to protect our precious coastal environment. 

 

What can Bowen Islanders expect in terms of affordable housing support from your party? 

The NDP has built tens of thousands of affordable rental, co-op and supportive homes for people since 2017, and there is still much more work to do. We are committed to building more than 30,000 additional affordable homes across B.C. by 2022. The NDP tax on housing speculators has slowed skyrocketing housing prices, but we need to continue to partner with local communities to meet their affordability needs. Already we’ve turned thousands of empty homes into rental units and we will continue working with local governments and First Nations to find new opportunities to build housing that people can afford.

 

There’s been a light shone on the systemic racism in our institutions this year, but our representative will be a white man. How will you work in the interests of Black, Indigenous and people of colour? 

As a white male, I recognize and acknowledge the privilege I have in present-day society. In my years working with communities of workers from around the world and facing all kinds of barriers in society, I have learned that the best way I can represent the interest of Black, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour is from a place of humility and from the intention of acting as an ally. I want to be a representative who listens and creates spaces for people to speak for themselves and contribute to finding solutions to the challenges we face, including systemic discrimination.

 

What do you see as the three most pressing issues facing First Nations in our riding and how will you support them? 

We still have a long way to go on our path to reconciliation but I am committed to keep moving forward. Under the NDP, B.C. made history as the first province to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We’ve signed a long-term agreement to guarantee 25 years of revenue sharing with First Nations, supported language revitalization, and we made B.C. the first and only province to fund on-reserve housing with 1,750 new homes both on and off-reserve. These are issues that are important here and it’s important we take concrete steps to address them.

 

How will your party support small businesses given the pandemic economy? 

Small businesses are critical to our communities and it’s been very tough times for them. The NDP’s Economic Recovery plan includes $300 million in recovery grants for small businesses, a 15 per cent refundable tax credit based on eligible new payroll, a 100 per cent PST rebate on machinery and equipment so people can invest in their business and specific support for hard-hit sectors like the tourism industry and restaurants. We will continue to listen to the needs of small business owners to make sure that critical supports remain available through the pandemic and will expand or enhance them as further needs are identified.

 

How will your party support youth and families in this time of high unemployment? 

Now more than ever, we need to make sure that youth and families have the support they need. The BC NDP is supporting youth and families by reducing expenses such as BC Hydro, childcare and ICBC, and by eliminating MSP. We will provide a one-time $1,000 recovery benefit to families, or $500 for individuals, to help with expenses. We’re providing help for people with a rent freeze until 2021 and a renters’ rebate of up to $400 a year. And we’re making post-secondary education more affordable with grants up to $4,000 a year, more training spaces, and interest-free student loans. 

 

What’s your party’s specific commitment to coastal communities as COVID-19 bites into BC Ferries’ revenues? 

The BC Liberals cut ferry services, making life harder for people living in coastal and northern communities. We restored sailings and seniors discount and are working with BC Ferries to weather the pandemic and invest in service for the long term, including with cleaner hybrid ferries. To protect service levels during the pandemic and ensure they remain affordable, the BC NDP has matched federal restart funds to provide BC Ferries with an additional $308 million in emergency support. We are committed to investing in coastal communities and improving the basic infrastructure that people need to get around every day.

 

In the event of a vote in the legislature where there is a conflict between your party’s position and that of your constituents, how will you decide how to vote? 

It depends on the issue. I believe the BC NDP platform aligns with the values of the people of this community. That said, having been a labour representative for years, I know the importance of listening to constituents and bringing their voices forward to those making decisions on their behalf.

 

Jeremy Valeriote

BC Greens

Jeremy Valeriote
Jeremy Valeriote

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Bowen Islanders and what will you do to address it?

As with many communities in B.C., housing seems to be at top of mind for Bowen Islanders. In its connection to other affordability and social fabric issues, the availability of affordable housing has impacts throughout the community. I was heartened when I visited Bowen on Monday and heard of promising new housing projects, and saw encouraging signs of a new health centre, fire hall and emergency operations centre. The BC Greens have a vision of everyone having a home they can afford and that meets their needs and will support the Bowen Island community in working towards this vision.

 

We’re in a climate crisis, what’s your government’s plan for B.C. and for our riding?

The BC Greens platform commits to carbon neutrality by 2045, to match California. We will set an interim target for 2025 to ensure the government is on track for the 2030 objectives set out in the Clean BC plan, which was established with a strong Green influence. We will immediately end oil and gas subsidies and put that money toward spurring innovation and economic development and implement a moratorium on fracking. We’ll prioritize natural solutions to climate change, such as forest and wetland carbon sinks.

 

What is your position on Woodfibre LNG in Squamish? How will your government ensure the safety of Bowen Island and Howe Sounders, particularly when it comes to tanker traffic? 

The BC Greens are the only provincial party who oppose Woodfibre LNG. Howe Sound is just beginning to recover from a century of damaging industrialization, and an export terminal to send a fossil fuel across the globe is not a carbon solution, nor is it moving toward the green economy of the future. The environmental assessment process must consider the safety of residents with regard to tanker traffic and require and enforce the highest standard of safety, including emergency planning in case of an accident.

 

What can Bowen Islanders expect in terms of affordable housing support from your party? 

Our goal is that everyone has a home they can afford and that meets their needs. Province-wide, we need to address skyrocketing rents and insurance rates. Locally, we need to listen to communities and local governments who know what is needed on the ground; as MLA I will advocate to BC Housing for these needs. The Greens will work on creative solutions and accelerate investment in a diversity of housing options, including co-op housing, affordable rentals, supportive and social housing and the “missing middle” of duplexes and triplexes. And, we’ll close loopholes in bare trust and speculation tax.

 

There’s been a light shone on the systemic racism in our institutions this year, but our representative will be a white man. How will you work in the interests of Black, Indigenous and people of colour? 

My work as a white male is to recognize that I can’t understand the full impact and scope of systemic racism in our society. What I can do, is make a daily practice of awareness of how my bias and the bias of others affects Black, Indigenous and people of colour. In dialogue with those affected by racism, I can apply myself to shifting my consciousness around this issue, and through my thoughts and actions promote equity and inclusion in my daily life.

 

What do you see as the three most pressing issues facing First Nations in our riding and how will you support them? 

A respectful answer requires more consultation with First Nations than I have had the opportunity to do, due to the timing of this snap election. I understand from some conversations that housing and safety are at top of mind, and that there is disappointment that action on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples has not been more prominent in this election. If elected, I will continue a long-term dialogue in a good and humble way with First Nation leaders to find out how I can best support their communities.

 

How will your party support small businesses given the pandemic economy?

We will continue to support federal government wage subsidies using the best information available about their effectiveness. The BC Greens have pledged a $300 million, six-month commercial rent subsidy for small business; retooling the provincial grant program for small tourism operators; a separate granting program for non-profits and cultural facilities; and, working with the federal government on a loan program for hospitality and tourism operators.

 

How will your party support youth and families in this time of high unemployment?

The BC Greens have a vision for youth and families that solves problems across multiple areas by recognizing how they are all interconnected: employment, childcare, education, mental health, work-life balance, housing and income. We will transition toward a basic income, provide free childcare for working parents with children under three and $500 a month for stay-at-home parents, integrate early childhood education into the public school system, maintain funding for public education, invest $1 billion in mental health over four years and invest in a clean jobs program to help get people to work in the new economy.

 

What’s your party’s specific commitment to coastal communities as COVID-19 bites into BC Ferries’ revenues?

BC Greens will restore BC Ferries as a Crown corporation. As a former resident of Gibsons, I sat on a Ferry Advisory Committee and understand ferries, which are essential in connecting people, promoting economic development and supporting quality of life. COVID-related challenges for BC Ferries must be addressed in a way that allows revenues to bounce back quickly as the economy recovers.

 

In the event of a vote in the legislature where there is a conflict between your party’s position and that of your constituents, how will you decide how to vote?

I will vote in the interests of my constituents, in the case of a difference of opinion. I am confident that doing politics differently means respecting these differences, and finding the common ground and creative solutions that can result from collaborative discussions about diverse perspectives.

 

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