Beverly (Pixie) Hobby, BC Green Party, Surrey-White Rock
1) The City of Surrey’s decision to transition to a municipal police force has raised concerns among constituents over costs and transparency. How would you address these? Is a public referendum the answer?
A: My opinion as a citizen of Surrey is that participatory democracy works only when government is accountable and transparent about it’s actions. The public must have easy and timely access to meaningful information and data in a useable form before making a decision on voting day that has significant financial implications. A clear and simply worded referendum in this case might be the best way to address the concerns of constituents.
2) Covid-19 has exposed some cracks in the system with regard to seniors health – particularly those in long-term care. What approach would you favour in dealing with this?
A: We need to move away from a ‘for-profit’ model where private companies profit from our publicly funded long term care sector, and towards a model that prioritizes high quality and accessible care through a mix of public, ‘not-for-profit’ community-based services and co-ops. Care workers must be recognized as healthcare professionals, with wages and benefits commensurate with the Health Employers Association of BC. Through this transition, annual inspections of private facilities plus review of their financial statements and audits of their expense reports will improve accountability.
3) What is the best path to take in helping B.C. and the Semiahmoo Peninsula in its economic recovery, and for supporting business during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: The best path makes our communities resilient to the inevitable consequences of climate change we’ll face in coming years, while also creating jobs and opportunities for citizens. A clean economic recovery focused on food security and climate adaptation is a good start. By incentivizing small-scale farms to adopt agro-ecological practices such as regenerative farming, technologies to increase low-carbon and hyper-local farming, and supporting local processing of agricultural products, we decrease reliance on increasingly unreliable import supply chains and diversify farming in BC. These initiatives will generate jobs, build local skills and increase community resilience.
Building capacity in communities to prevent and respond to wildfires and flooding will create local jobs in landscape-level ecologically-centred forest management and fuel treatment projects. These projects will also increase the resilience of regional ecosystems by restoring habitats and protecting biodiversity, enabling a sustainable forest industry.
Our forestry industry will be revitalized when we take back control of our forests from large corporations, so forestry meets the needs of local communities and First Nations. We can begin a process of tenure reform to redistribute tenures from a few large companies and grow the proportion of tenures held by First Nations and community forests. Enhancing capacity in the Ministry of Forests with community based forestry staff to support the sustainable management of local forest resources will provide well-paying community jobs.
Recognizing that clean water is a basic human right, we must ensure our communities have long-term, reliable, and equitable access to clean water. A dedicated Watershed Security Fund will create sustainable jobs in communities across BC in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training, upgrading municipal infrastructure, replacing household pipes through grants and incentives, and in education.
The BC Greens will establish a $1 billion strategic investment fund to support business innovations that help the shift to a zero carbon economy such as the creation of a biofuels strategy and clean hydrogen roadmap as part of the energy mix we use to replace fossil fuels in our transportation sector.
A Green provincial government will partner with colleges to develop training programs to expand employment in the green retrofit business. Programming would focus on supporting sectors impacted by COVID 19, as well as the just transition program for workers in the oil and gas sector.
4) What would you like to see done to improve educational facilities, and to address ongoing school overcrowding, in the riding?
A: The size of elementary schools poses a problem with covid-19. In some cases 700-900 elementary students share one playground. New schools are being built larger due to the cost of land. We need smaller sized elementary schools, and more of them. One solution is to acquire land for schools early in the development process, before the cost of land escalates.
Another solution may be to increase School Site Acquisition Charges, a fee developers pay towards land acquisition, to reflect the cost of acquiring land for schools. This fee, which hasn’t increased since about 2006, was never meant to cover 100% of land costs, but now actually covers far less than the 35% it was initially meant to cover.
• ALSO RUNNING IN SURREY-WHITE ROCK
5) What is/are the most pressing environmental concern(s) for residents in the riding and how would it/they be best addressed?
A: Rising sea level is a serious concern, and is being addressed through the projects under the City of Surrey ‘s Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy.
Another serious concern is the destruction of trees, green spaces, agricultural land and natural habitats in the face of development.
Water quality is also a serious concern in this riding.
The BC greens will create a Food Secure B.C. strategy to make B.C. agriculture more climate resilient, improve local food security and support local agricultural producers. A long-term food sustainability strategy for the province will decrease reliance on increasingly unreliable import supply chains and diversify farming in BC.
BC Greens will also implement the Water Sustainability Act to secure the environmental flows needed to sustain healthy and functioning rivers, lakes and watersheds. Our plan is to working with local governments, school districts and other stakeholders to upgrade municipal infrastructure and replace household pipes through grants and incentives.
6) Strata dwellers in B.C. saw a sharp rise in their insurance rates over a single year, with Metro Vancouver residents seeing an average increase of more than 50 per cent. Has the current government done enough to address this issue. If not, what other steps should be taken?
A: The BC Financial Services Authority is still in the process of identifying the cause of the unaffordable spike in strata insurance. It would be reckless to wade into the complicated insurance market until we know the nature of the problem we are trying to solve. BC Greens would convene a taskforce including insurance brokers, insurers and strata owners to develop solutions as soon as the BCFSA finishes their investigation.
7) Transportation continues to be a concern for local commuters. What can and should be done at a provincial level to help relieve gridlock?
A: The B.C. Greens will:
• Work with local governments to establish a vision for sustainable transportation in an era of expanded population growth, including through:
• A regional transportation strategy;
• Establishing a regional governance body to overcome fractured decision-making and deliver integrated planning for the growing region;
• Investing to support expansion of public transit options to help people move around more easily;
• Building frequent and affordable public transportation links between cities.
• Prioritize investment in transit service coming out of COVID-19 to support economic recovery, improve liveability of communities, and reduce GHG emissions.
• Ensure that the projected long-term losses facing TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries are dealt with so that service levels are maintained, allowing ridership to quickly bounce back through the economic recovery period.
• Ensure no disruption in future expansion due to the pandemic.
• Work with local and regional governments to redesign the transit-funding model and establish an equitable, stable long-term funding model for transit. This review would include consideration of mobility pricing.
• Develop climate and sustainability criteria, including consideration of cumulative impacts, to be applied to all future capital projects including transportation infrastructure investments.
8) What is/are the most pressing health care concern(s) for residents in the riding and how would it/they be best addressed?
A: The uncertainty and instability around the pandemic is placing increased psychological strain on us all, making depression and prolonged anxiety a real concern especially for youth, single parents and isolated seniors.
The B.C. Greens Plan for mental health and wellbeing would:
• Invest to build an affordable and accessible mental healthcare system where cost is not a barrier to seeking help. The B.C. Greens would allocate $1.0 billion over a four-year cycle to address mental health issues within the medical services plan. Funding should be provided for a comprehensive suite of initiatives including:
• Establishing accessible mental health treatment options for all those struggling with anxiety or depression.
• Early intervention, youth mental health initiatives, integrated primary care specific to youth and mental health enabling families to easily navigate resources in a supportive environment.
• Community based options for responding to those with mental health issues and their families such as Clubhouse International.
• Enhanced counselling outreach services to work with the homeless community.
• Invest in facilities to provide mental healthcare services and community-based centres for mental health and rehabilitation. Accelerate capital plans for the construction of tertiary care facilities and detoxification beds. Protect operating funding for facilities.
• Develop and implement a Loneliness Strategy.
• Conduct a public information campaign to increase understanding of mental health issues and provide information on where to get help.
9) Would you support a cap on the percentage increase in rent/lease rates that commercial landlords in B.C. could impose upon tenants in a single year? Why or why not?
A: The BC Greens hadn’t finalized their position on this issue by print time. My personal opinion as a citizen is that there should be a cap on the percentage increase in rent/lease rates, and it must be established having regard to the economic conditions in B.C.
In light of the pandemic, the percentage increase (or decrease) must reflect the challenges that businesses are facing to stay afloat.