The Snap Election
As I write this we are a mere week away from election results, and I think we can all agree that predicting election outcomes is a fool’s game. I do know though, that after six years in local government my voting behaviour is forever changed.
Voting behaviour predictably changes when people start families, suddenly things like health care and public education become important.
My voting behaviour changed after staring at the stack of aging infrastructure our municipality owns; roads, waters, sewers, water mains that need replacing, water loss that is unacceptable, public buildings that are well beyond their working life and trying to move on our commitment to climate change goals.
Municipalities with populations over 5,000 people pay 70% of the police cost. In 2020 policing cost the City of Fernie $941,174. With the RCMP moving through a unionization process, we have been told to prepare for our police costs to increase as a result of RCMP remuneration. I am supportive of RCMP and their right to unionize but am very concerned about the impact to our municipal budget.
Fernie right now is working hard on its commitment to public safety, the water leaks on the water main below Burma Estates are significant and will be worked on in 2020. Now that we own Maiden Lake, we need to complete a number of safety upgrades, and we will continue to chase grants to raise the level of our dike system to protect the community from flood threat.
The province has ordered local governments to produce a Housing Needs Report so that we are making data driven decisions, which is an excellent mandate and one that I support, however with the grant (20k) and our contribution from tax revenue (30k), the cost of complying with this provincial reporting requirement is costly.
What matters to me now, how do I vote?
I vote for governments that commit to working with local governments, we are the key order of government that has the most impact on your quality of life. We are the government that owns roughly 60% of the infrastructure in British Columbia (fcm.ca/en/focus-areas/infrastructure). We are the order of government that is currently dealing with the housing crisis, the opioid crisis, and the order of government taking a stand on climate change.
When the Province of British Columbia declared an emergency, we were the order of government that was asked to implement the public health orders to keep our communities safe. We did so at a huge financial cost and will continue to do so at a cost.
The pandemic had local governments across the Province re-evaluate infrastructure projects and other critical investments that our communities need, despite knowing that reliable infrastructure is key in attracting investment, that new recreation centres help us attract young families and that we all have a critical need for housing.
We need recovery through infrastructure stimulus and investment that flows into local governments. We need a commitment to support economic diversification to help our resource dependent neighbours to stay economically viable.
The pandemic has highlighted our vulnerabilities around rural connectivity, we need to support working from home, all parties in this election should be committed to advancing universal broad band.
We need an opioid and mental health strategy.
We need action on climate change.
Six days out of a provincial election we have three candidates in Kootenay East and only one has called my office asking what the priorities for the City are.
My voting behaviour is entirely focused on who will be working to support the growing needs of Fernie.
No order of government can address all of the challenges facing our communities, but we stand a much better chance when we work together. If the goal is to improve the lives of all British Columbians, local governments need support.