NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet on the campaign trail in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap- Revelstoke Review)

NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet on the campaign trail in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap- Revelstoke Review)

BC VOTES: Q&A with BC NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet

Cherlet talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

Nicole Cherlet is running for the BC NDP in the provincial election. She is a councillor for the city of Revelstoke.

Why are you, party aside, the best choice to be MLA in Revelstoke?

Our province is a stunning place with a rich culture, beautiful environment, and amazing communities. I felt welcomed when I moved here in 2006, fell in love with my husband in Invermere in 2007 and found home when I moved to Revelstoke in 2008. I’ve always felt strongly about community service and feel that is how we contribute to the next generation. If I want to see positive change, I know I have a responsibility to help make it happen.

As a city councillor, I have seen the difference that having a diversity of perspectives makes at government decision-making tables. With my experience as a small business owner and past president of the local chamber of commerce, I know I can be a strong voice to represent our riding – and rural communities – in a BC NDP government led by John Horgan. It’s time that Columbia River Revelstoke had a seat at the table in Victoria.

What are you and your party’s views and plans for highway safety in the region?

For too many years under the BC Liberals, people in rural communities like ours were largely ignored when it came to infrastructure investments – putting the safety of drivers at risk. The BC NDP government invested over 1$ billion in Budget 2020 to transform the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border to four lanes over the next three years. Upgrading the highway to a modern, 100 km/h, four-lane standard will allow traffic to move more safely and efficiently.

One four-laning project is already ongoing in Illecillewaet where two kilometres of Highway 1 are being widened and an expanded as well as improving the brake check with more parking, increased lighting and acceleration and deceleration lanes. The Kicking Horse Canyon Phase got underway east of Golden in summer 2020. Several projects are also in various stages of design and consultation.

These and future four-laning projects will use a Community Benefits Agreement, which will ensure all workers receive competitive, equal, transparent wages and benefits, enabling greater employment and training opportunities for people traditionally underrepresented in the trades, including women, Indigenous peoples, apprentices and people with disabilities. This will help diversify and mobilize the skilled trades now and in the future.

How do you plan on addressing or supporting a solution for the housing shortage in Revelstoke if you are elected?

The cost of housing is one of the biggest problems facing Revelstoke. It is a crisis that was years in the making. We’re seeing signs of progress, but people are still struggling to buy and rent here. We want young people and new families to stay in our community, not move away.

The BC NDP has been fighting hard to tackle the housing crisis and make life more affordable for people. In the past few years, Columbia River Revelstoke has seen investments of $45 million to build new housing units. One example is the province’s recent purchase of the Revelstoke Board of Education’s Mount Begbie property on Downie St. The property is large enough to accommodate a range of housing projects that could benefit tourism industry employees, low to moderate-income families, and seniors.

We have started to turn things around, but still have much work to do. At stake in this election is our 10-year Homes for BC plan – the largest investment in affordable housing in B.C.’s history to build 114,000 new units. A government led by John Horgan will also freeze rents to the end of 2021 and cap increases after that, provide a renter’s rebate of $400 a year for households earning up to $80,000 a year, and reduce construction costs to make new homes more affordable.

What are your ideas and priorities when it comes to environmental management for the region?

I believe that we need a comprehensive land-use plan for Mt. Begbie and the broader valley that is developed and truly led by the community. As a city councillor, I was working with the provincial government to support this approach – a community-driven process – that will lead to decisions that balance environmental, social, and economic values. We can’t go back to a patchwork approach to environmental management and regulation – one valley here, one project there, influenced by who was involved at the time.

Working in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, environmental groups, labour, industry and environmental groups, we need to take a holistic approach to protecting old growth forests and act on the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review – in addition to the 353,000 hectares the BC NDP government protected in September. The Incommapleux Valley south of Revelstoke is home to trees more than 2,000 years old and 10 new species of lichen have been identified in the Valley. The area was identified by the Old Growth Strategic Review as ecologically sensitive and I am proud that we have set aside the Incommapleux Valley as an old growth reserve.

The climate crisis is the global challenge of our time. We’re already seeing the impacts in Columbia River Revelstoke and owe it to future generations to do our part. The BC NDP worked closely with Dr. Andrew Weaver to develop CleanBC – the most ambitious climate plan in North America. We now have an economic opportunity to ‘build back better’ and tackle climate change, while making life better for people.

What are your plans and priorities for COVID recovery?

People are worried about their loved ones and a future that looks different than we had ever imagined. I put my name forward this election because I believe the BC NDP are the right people to ensure we build a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that includes everyone – not just those at the very top.

We need to keep B.C. moving forward and build on the progress we’ve made so far by following the expert advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry. John Horgan’s plan includes a record $1.6 billion investment in healthcare to fight COVID-19:

• Hiring 7,000 front-line health care workers in long-term care and assisted living;

• Boosting testing capacity to 20,000 per day

• Hiring 600 more contact tracers to stop outbreaks

Once a vaccine is available, we will provide it free of charge to everyone in B.C.

The pandemic has caused so much pain and hardship for so many people in British Columbia. In a province with a good economy, we’re fortunate that so many have been able to navigate their way through the impacts. But for others, the financial stress is felt every day. That’s why the BC NDP is putting people at the centre of our recovery with:

• A one-time Recovery Benefit of up to $1,000

• Grants to support hard-hit small and medium-sized businesses

• A new $3 billion Recovery Investment Fund that will create 18,000 new jobs a year

How will you and your party be addressing child care needs?

Three years ago, families already hit with high housing and other monthly costs were in a bind – they needed two incomes to keep their families safe and healthy, but they either couldn’t find or afford the child care needed for both parents to be working.

Universal and affordable childcare means not asking parents to make these impossible choices. In just two years, the BC NDP has funded 20,000 new childcare spaces across the province – including 223 new spaces here in Columbia River-Revelstoke – and more than 32,000 families in BC are now receiving childcare for $10-a-day or less. We can’t go back and throw away the progress we’ve made.

The BC NDP will continue making great strides down the path toward universal child care, including:

• Protecting child care in law – just like we do with public health care

• Bringing $10-a-day child care to more families

• Creating more spaces through a new child care capital program

• Providing greater access to before- and after-school care

• Training and keeping more early childhood educators

What are your plans and priorities for seniors care and how will that include rural communities like Revelstoke?

For seniors, it was a long sixteen years of BC Liberal neglect, leaving our province with fragmented and unaccountable care for seniors – and leaving long-term care centres especially susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks. Our seniors are most at risk due to the pandemic – now is the time to continue investing in seniors care, not cut it.

The BC NDP will:

• Hire and train 7,000 new workers in long-term care and assisted living;

• Deliver better care for seniors through a better deal for workers, restoring provincial standards for wages, benefits and working conditions;

• Work with non-profits to build public are homes that keep seniors safer, healthier and more comfortable;

• Make sure private operators deliver better than through new requirements;

• Improve home care for safe, independent living; and

• Implement a ten-year cancer plan, with a focus on rural communities, to make sure people can get cancer care closer to home


 

@RevelstokeRevue
editor@revelstoketimesreview.com

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