Black Press went to our readers to gather a list of questions they would like to ask the Kootenay West candidates in the upcoming provincial election.
The Kootenay West riding will have six names on the ballot: Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green) Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent) and Ed Varney (Independent).
We will posting one set of question and answers each day for the next week.
Q: Demand for outdoor recreation opportunities is increasing, how will you or your party enhance BC Parks?
Glen Byle (Conservative) – BC parks are high quality, affordable, desirable recreation locations, especially for camping. They also collect less than 50 per cent of their budget from user fees. How is a local resident who loves the outdoors and who wants to start a local campground supposed to compete with an organization that is subsidized this heavily? I say this as someone who camped 25 nights this year and wants to see more quality camping spots.
Katrine Conroy (NDP) – The pandemic has made it even more clear how much we rely on our parks for recreation. Going forward it will be even more important to continue to expand BC’s provincial parks by creating new campgrounds, trails, and protected areas while increasing funding to improve infrastructure and protect park ecosystems. We invested in expanding Syringa Park locally and will continue to invest in other local parks.
Andrew Duncan (Green) – As a park ranger I understand the demands for B.C. parks. I recommend anyone interested in BC parks read the Mountain Life article by Sarah Bulford: “Why I Quit My Dream Job…” July 2020. We can no longer do more with less, there are BC Parks that no B.C. park ranger has stepped foot in for 10-20 years! The Green party plans to rebuild the pride we once had in our BC Parks systems.
Fletcher Quince (Independent) – Increasing demands on BC parks will drive a legislative distinction between recreation and protection that will challenge current notions of access. Ultimately, therefore, to enhance parks in Kootenay West I would focus on three items: (1) improving the quality of visitor’s experience in existing parks, (2) strengthening legislative protections for sensitive habitat and species at risk within these areas, and (3) increasing dedication of available lands as provincial parks.
Ed Varney (Independent) – Open and maintain all back roads. “Not affordable,” says the Ministry but they can fly helicopters over deactivated roads at $1,000 per hour costing tens of millions annually. We built the Duncan mainline to Glacier National Park. The Ministry rebuilt and replaced bridges to go in and destroy 45 kilometers of road. We paid to rebuild it and destroy it. This was access to the trails that go through the park to Highway 1. The people of B.C. should have the right to enjoy B.C. outdoors without having to pay for it and/or hire a helicopter. It belongs to us.
Liberal candidate Corbin Kelley did not submit answers to our questions.