The Castlegar byelection will be held on April 24. There are four candidates running for one city council seat — Brian Bogle, Sandy Bojechko, Shirley Falstead and Heather Fancy.
We asked the candidates to answer the following five questions.
Editors note: Heather Fancy declined to submit answers for some of the questions.
What is the biggest issue you see facing the city and how would you address it?
Bogle: Our homeless situation is a big concern to our community. While it has existed, it has been largely ignored and not a topic that has been at the forefront of conversations in our city until recently. City council must be advocates and call on our provincial government to act. We need Interior Health to step up and increase services for medical and mental health services. City council must lead the fight for change to protect the most vulnerable. We need to stop the rhetoric and insist on the resources needed to create safe housing and medical assistance.
Bojechko: One of the biggest issues currently is two-fold; lack of affordable housing and homelessness. We need to complete a housing strategy while reviewing our bylaws, zoning and our Community Plan. We need to be able to identify housing needs for seniors, students, precarious income earners and families. Minimum wage is just not enough to secure housing for a family and income assistance cannot be relied upon. A two parent family cannot afford housing and daycare if they have precarious employment, let alone a single parent family or someone with an illness.
Falstead: The biggest issue is the pandemic and the impacts on nearly every part of our lives. It’s how we are going to find work that’s safe, its about loneliness, its about the social, economic, and environmental consequences. How do we address it? We address it by being kind, by wearing masks, by being patient, by appreciating our community and standing together. We will make it through.
Is there a past city leadership decision you disagreed with? Why? What would you have done differently?
Bogle: I believe our past and current council have managed our city with fiscal responsibility and have endeavoured to improve our city services and infrastructure. The decisions of the past councils were made and approved by our elected officials. As a candidate it is easy to sit back and criticize, I believe in looking forward and ensuring the future issues we face will be decided on need, merit and ability to fund without causing undue hardship to our taxpayers.
Bojechko: Decisions that I disagree with are that $1.6 million was spent on the Millennium Ponds that doesn’t allow for year-round use. Over $345,000 was spent on the Connors Road path and $40,000 for changing coloured lights under the overpass that is not owned by the city. This is taxpayer’s money, they should have been consulted on such large expenditures given that the city needs funds for infrastructure. I believe local companies should be given the opportunity to do the work. There is no reason, that I know of, that RFPs can’t be issued on a local level rather than provincial.
Falstead: I do not know of a leadership decision that I disagreed with but, I can name some decisions that were outstandingly good i.e. the Millennium Park with its ponds, exercise area, bike park, walking paths, plant signage, upgraded washrooms, sculptures and bridge; the Castlegar Sculpture Walk; Communities in Bloom; the Complex with its rink, pool, programs, skateboard park, and staff; the Castlegar Municipal Airport; Castlegar City Hall, hiking trails; Selkirk College; Firehall, Ambulance Hall and the people that make the City of Castlegar run. I am sure I missed some, so email me at email@example.com.
Fancy: I would never say anything poor about a past councillor, or their decisions, it’s in poor taste.
How do you think the city could address the shortage of affordable housing?
Bogle: Affordable housing continues to be a concern. We must enlist the help of Provincial government to get grant money for housing projects. We need to identify suitable land for building and explore options to acquire it, work to find partners to build and manage the developments. The city can also explore options for reducing some of the servicing costs to remove or lower some of the barriers to get these projects started. The affordable housing strategy survey is a good starting point.
Bojechko: I believe that no major decisions should be made without consultation with our taxpayers. After reviewing our Community Plan, bylaws and zoning, we need to identify the needs. Families need different housing than a single person, seniors many need medical accommodation that someone else may not. Castlegar Community Services will be a good asset rather than hiring an expensive consultant from outside our area. We need to speak to the people, not make decisions on what we think people need and then look at costs, services and service providers.
Falstead: Affordable housing can be addressed by changing zoning requirements, development cost breaks, infill housing, laneway housing, encourage suites in single family homes, low rise apartments, looking at units like Rota Villa, taking advantage of federal and provincial grants, looking at what other communities are doing and responding to the Castlegar housing survey.
What are your top three city priorities?
Bogle: Affordable housing strategy. Economic growth and attracting new business that will complement existing business. We need to continue efforts to attract industry in order to add employment opportunities for our community members. Our airport remains a concern for reliability and with Air Canada opting out of service due to Covid-19. It is imperative that work continues to address these issues.
Bojechko: Affordable housing, consultation with residents, 24/7 medical availability. I have already addressed the affordable housing issue and consultation with residents. I will advocate for 24/7 medical availability in our city as well as availability of recreation and transportation (BC Transit) for our seniors because they gave us the beautiful city we have today. Seniors do not always have family that are accessible daily which means they rely on the hearts of others, we need to help take away the guilt that some people feel by asking for help and give them a sense of independence.
Falstead: My top priorities are: having a 24-hour urgent care center, affordable housing, economic development.
What skills or experience do you have that would make you a good mayor/councillor?
Bogle: I have 43 years of experience in retail operations both as a retail clerk and in management. I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility to the shareholders which are the citizens of Castlegar. I have been on both sides of the table as a shop steward for UFCW 1518 and as a manager. Having been in both roles, I understand the importance of knowing the collective agreement and ensuring that it is followed. I take a wide-angle view of issues and analyze all sides before making decisions. I am proactive team player with a consensus building approach to decision making.
Bojechko: In all of my employment throughout the years, I helped people, and I believe I can do that as councillor. I will be the residents’ voice on council. I have bargained collective agreements, I have facilitated courses and have worked in the legal field. I will hold people accountable but am also ready for challenges. I enjoy a good debate when it comes to a positive outcome. I believe that council has to work together to make this city the best, which includes suggestions from the taxpayers. I would be honoured to be your representative at the Castlegar council table.
Falstead: I have over twenty years experience as a practitioner and consultant specializing in economic development. I have worked with communities in developing tourism strategies, attracting industry and identifying opportunities. I am a board member of the Heritage Credit Union and Rota Villa. I also volunteer at the Red Cross Equipment Loan Program.