All four candidates for the Kootenay West riding—from left

A date with the candidates

Four candidates for Kootenay West made a stop on their all candidates forum tour in Rossland to discuss Mountain Kingdom issues.

Nearly 45 people turned off the NHL playoffs and stepped into Miners’ Union Hall on Wednesday night to watch the reality show that was the all candidates forum for the Kootenay West riding.

It was the Rossland version, hosted by the Rossland Chamber of Commerce, and featured a brief introduction by each candidate followed by a round of public questions.

Independents Joseph Hughes from Nakusp and Glen Byle from Trail were joined by riding incumbent Katrine Conroy of the B.C. NDP, and Jim Postnikoff of the B.C. Liberal Party.

Some other all candidates forum results this week to ponder include:

 

In Trail (Cominco Gym, Monday night)…

The open questions gave better insight into the candidates.

Downloading of costs on school districts

Postnikoff repeated the Liberals simple formula of economy plus jobs equals more funding. He said the Liberals have pitched a 10-year deal to the B.C. Teachers Federation in order to get spending under control.

Conroy, on the other hand, said increasing staff levels is a priority to improving education for each student especially when it comes to teacher assistants and librarians.

Affordable housing

The affordable housing topic brought another unclear response from Postnikoff who alluded to a major overhaul on the horizon without any details.

Conroy was more specific explaining the NDP has pledged 1,500 units of housing per year for four years.

Hughes said each community has different problems and requires different solutions that need direct

action from the riding’s representative.

Byle once again said he would rely on his system to gauge what the voters want in the riding.

Taxation

Byle offered a plan to tax according to services, while Hughes said the solutions from the Kootenay West riding must be developed in the region and not dependent on what is fed from Victoria.

Conroy said the NDP’s platform of taxing will be aimed at corporations like banks, people making over $150,000 per year and heavy polluters.

“We will not increase the deficit,” she said, adding the NDP is only promising what it can afford.

Postnikoff read from the party platform and emphasized the party’s jobs plan leading to the goal of a debt-free B.C. The party is promising a freeze on taxes and carbon taxes, the potential windfall from the oil and gas industry for a Prosperity Fund and, of course, jobs.

compiled from the Trail Times

 

In Castlegar (Sandman Hotel, Tuesday night) …

Questions from the audience of about 60 were wide ranging.

Health care infrastructure

“The health care we don’t have in this area, is something we can’t stand for any longer,” said Postnikoff. “There are facilities being built all over the province; those facilities need to be built here.” He said changes were not going to come over night but the process should have been started years ago.

Hughes said advocacy for rural health care has been “quiet” for some years and was one of the things that spurred him into running for office. He mentioned his time as an advocate for a dementia care facility in Nakusp and took what would be the first of a couple of swipes at the administration of Interior Health.

Conroy said the process has been started and said the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board has put money aside and is working with stakeholders on getting it done.

Byle said while he had opinions on health care (he works in the industry) he believes taking the voices of all voters to government was more important — something he believes his technologically based system would do.

Proposed Site C dam

Hughes used words like devastation and suggested the dam was not in any way a green project.

Postnikoff said the dam would be built for the liquified natural gas sector and that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that needed to be acted on quickly lest B.C. be overtaken by competitors.

Conroy said she had huge concerns over flooding prime farmland and that any progress in the sector would need to find environmentally friendly ways of operating.

Byle again suggested that complex issues like Site C needed to have all of the details carefully examined by all voters, something his system would be designed to do.

Columbia River Treaty

Hughes said termination of the agreement was an option if B.C. didn’t get “what it deserves.” He said B.C. has all of the assets that are on the table with respect to the treaty and didn’t want to see water become a commodity.

Conroy said that if the treaty was to be cancelled, things would revert to an agreement from 1908, which no one wants to see. She said the NDP forced the government to take action on the issue and through negotiations the best treaty possible would be maintained.

Postnikoff said the negotiations were a key issue and that he would work with all parties amicably and fairly and work out the best deal in today’s dollars.

Byle admitted to knowing nothing about the treaty until beginning his run for the MLA seat; which he said was not uncommon for voters but something his system would be designed to correct.

Municipal engagement

Kyra Hoggan, Castlegar Source, asked Conroy about municipal engagement becoming more important as more and more responsibilities get downloaded from provincial and federal governments.

Conroy replied that although she doesn’t attend council meetings, she meets with all municipalities and regional district directors often, most times off the record in order to “get down to business” and speak frankly about issues. She took the opportunity to mention the controversial Jumbo resort development as an example of the kind of lack of community engagement the Liberals have demonstrated.

Postnikoff said he would make it a priority to personally meet with all of the mayors and directors of the region if elected.

compiled from Marvin Beatty, Castlegar News