The three candidates in the Cowichan Valley riding took part in the virtual candidates debate at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Oct. 13. Pictured, from left, are the Liberal's Tanya Kaul,  and Sonia Furstaneu, the incumbent Green MLA. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Cowichan Valley candidates talk addictions, old growth forests at forum

Questions included issues around homelessness, addiction and transportation

The three candidates in the Cowichan Valley riding for the upcoming provincial elections answered a barrage of questions covering a number of issues at the virtual candidates forum that was held at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in Duncan on Oct. 13.

The BC Liberals’ Tanya Kaul, the NDP’s Rob Douglas and the Greens’ Sonia Furstenau, who is the incumbent MLA for the riding, each answered 20 questions, ranging from housing, addictions and forestry to health and economic recovery from the health crisis.

Moderator Wade Simmons gave each of the candidates one minute to answer the questions at the forum, which was sponsored by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce.

While only a few spectators were in the audience due to social distancing protocols that are in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a video of the forum will be available to view on the Chamber’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Oct. 14 ahead of advance polls, which open on Oct. 15.

One question asked the candidates about their opinion of Island Health’s controversial decision to set up a wellness and recovery centre on York Street without any public input or engagement.

Douglas said he had a recent conversation with a woman in the riding who lost her son to an overdose, like thousands of others across the province.

RELATED STORY: COUN. ROB DOUGLAS RUNNING FOR NDP IN COWICHAN VALLEY

“I think these days when we make these investments and these services, we have to have the neighbourhood and the community onside and it’s got to be integrated within our neighbourhoods,” Douglas said.

“John Horgan and I talked to some of the parents [whose children go to nearby schools] when he was here, and he is committed to coming back, sitting down with them and finding some solutions.”

Kaul said she commits “here and now” that if elected, she and the Liberals would put a pause on the project until proper discussions with the public are held.

“Everyone understands the need for this facility, but there has been no public engagement about it to date,” she said.

Furstenau said the public engagement on the new facility should be taking place now.

“It’s essential that public discussions of such issues are assured before decisions are made,” she said.

As for the ongoing affordable housing and homelessness problem in the Valley, and across the province, Furstenau said everyone should have a roof over their heads.

“You can’t have stability in your lives when you don’t know where you are sleeping each night,” she said.

“We have to ensure that emergency housing with wraparound services are available. Investment is needed urgently to deal with this issue, and communities must be involved in the decisions that are made.”

RELATED STORY: INCUMBENT SONIA FURSTENAU SAYS LOST OF WORK TO BE DONE IN COWICHAN VALLEY

Douglas also said everyone deserves a home, and the NDP government has been dealing with challenging issues related to homelessness since coming to power.

“This didn’t come about by accident, but by the bad choices of the Liberals [when in power],” he said.

“John Horgan and the NDP are working hard to undo the damage, and $7 billion has been invested in supportive housing, including 130 units that are to be built in the Cowichan Valley.”

Kaul agreed that having a home is important, and she supports increasing access for additional help for the homeless.

But she said the NDP’s strategy of placing them in hotels and other shelters is creating havoc for neighbours of these sites.

“There’s been a spike in crime and property damage around them,” she said.

“It’s time to treat the problem and prevent the harm.”

RELATED STORY: ECONOMIC RECOVERY IMPORTANT FOR LIBERAL CANDIDATE TANYA KAUL

In answer to a question about improving the Trans-Canada Highway through the Malahat, Furstenau said the ability for people to get around effectively and efficiently is important.

“Thousands of people travel over the Malahat every day, but there are a variety of ways to deal with that, like buses and other multi-modal transportation,” she said.

“The highway is not the whole answer.”

Douglas said he commutes often between the Cowichan Valley to Victoria for work purposes, so he’s aware of the issues.

He said the NDP are committed to improving transportation in the province and BC Transit is now studying the possibility of a new bus route connecting the Valley to Nanaimo.

“I think we should explore the possibility of having commuter rail service [to Victoria],” Douglas said.

As for how the candidates and their parties would help preserve old-growth forests in B.C., Douglas said the NDP government had two independent forestry experts tour the province and released a report last month recommending that 350,000 hectares of land containing old growth forests be protected, which was adopted by the government, and identified other areas that should be protected as well.

“It’s a good first step,” Douglas said.

Furstenau said the Greens called for the government to put a moratorium on logging old growth forests, but logging the forests went on the same under the NDP as it did under the Liberals.

“Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back,” she said.

“In 10 years, there will be no sustainable industry here [for old growth lumber].”

Kaul said protecting old growth forests is important.

She said other initiatives, like more tree-planting in logged areas, would help maintain B.C.’s forests.

“A Liberal government would also work with the federal government to help deal with the softwood lumber trade dispute with the U.S., and make a more efficient stumpage system a priority in the province,” Kaul said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

 

The three candidates in the Cowichan Valley riding took part in the virtual candidates debate at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Oct. 13. Pictured, from left, are the Liberal's Tanya Kaul,  and Sonia Furstaneu, the incumbent Green MLA. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Just Posted

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

The city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless site for more than a year, will be sold and plans are to build a three-storey mixed-use development there, Peter de Verteuil, Duncan CAO explained at a recent council meeting. (File photo)
New development planned for homeless site in Duncan

Lot on St. Julien Street would see three-storey building

Historian and longtime Citizen columnist T.W. Paterson photographs the historical wreckage of a plane on Mount Benson. Paterson recently won an award from the British Columbia Historical Foundation. (Submitted)
Cowichan’s Tom W. Paterson wins award for historical writing

British Columbia Historical Federation hands Recognition Award to local writer

This electric school bus is the newest addition to the Cowichan Valley School District’s fleet. (Submitted)
Editorial: New electric school bus good place to start

Changing public transit like buses to electric really is important.

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read