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BC VOTES 2020: Meet your Vernon-Monashee Candidates: Keli Westgate, BC Greens

Keli Westgate is vying for the Vernon-Monashee seat

What do you think is the most important issue in this constituency and how do you propose to tackle it?

We have multiple, overlapping issues right now, but the top I believe is affordability.

We need to curb speculation and the impact of global capital:

Restrict the impact of global capital on our real estate market, and reduce all types of speculative activity. This is key to cooling the overheated real estate market and bringing house prices more in line with local incomes.

Increase the supply of affordable housing.

Free up existing supply and ensure that new supply meets the needs of average British Columbians, not wealthy speculators. This is key to ensuring that we have adequate rental supply and that properties are used by those who need them, rather than sitting empty.

Collect and disseminate key data to support decision-making and to crack down on tax evasion and fraud.

We could expand the speculation tax to Vernon to cool the market, support and encourage affordable housing strategies and plans to build rental units, as well as establishing public and social housing.

How will you advocate a robust COVID-19 economic recovery for small businesses in the North Okanagan?

In the short term, we’ve allocated funds for a six-month rent subsidy for small businesses.

Greens will establish a $1-billion strategic investment fund to support business innovation that aligns with the province’s goals, with an emphasis on supporting innovations that help the shift to a zero-carbon economy.

We intend to partner with colleges, technical institutes and private organizations to develop training programs to expand employment in the green retrofit space.

Programming should focus on supporting sectors impacted by COVID-19, as well as the just transition program for workers in the oil and gas sector to renewable energy.

With the rapid rise of overdose deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic, how will your party plan to handle the simultaneous opioid crisis?

Having lost a family member to this issue this past summer, I am motivated to address this issue. BC Greens support increasing the number of health professionals authorized to help people at risk for overdose access safer alternatives to the toxic street drug supply.

Greens are also supportive of implementing harm-reduction strategies and decriminalization of drug use.

Our plan would also invest $1 billion over four years to incorporate mental health services under MSP. We’ll establish accessible, local mental health treatment options for all those struggling with anxiety or depression and increase facilities to do so.

A guaranteed livable income (GLI) pilot project will also address some of this issue.

Health and safety are at the forefront of British Columbians’ minds. How will your party work to keep British Columbians safe throughout COVID-19?

Health and safety are two cornerstones of Green policy. As an evidence-based party, we will continue to listen to the advice of health professionals about COVID-19 response. B.C. has been doing incredibly well so far, but we do recognize the hardship this response has caused in our communities.

Protecting our natural spaces so residents have safe and accessible outdoor options to prevent illness by staying active, eating healthy, locally grown foods and promoting preventative strategies is key.

Encouraging home retrofits for air quality, increasing active transportation options like connected bike paths, protecting drinking water and increasing access to land for agriculture.

READ MORE: B.C. VOTES 2020: Greens join Vernon-Monashee race

READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: Vernon chamber hosts virtual candidates forum

READ MORE: Leaders of B.C.’s three main political parties to take part in televised debate


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About the Author: Vernon Morning Star Staff

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