Election 2017: Attracting well-paying jobs

The candidates in Columbia River-Revelstoke say what they'll do to help attract well-paying jobs to the region

The economy is always one of the dominant issues in politics. In Revelstoke, one of the big issues isn’t so much jobs, but well-paying jobs that allow people to support a family and live and thrive here. This week we asked the candidates:

Many people want to live in our riding due its natural beauty and the lifestyle available. However, finding a well-paying job that allows someone to support a family is a big challenge. How do you propose to attract higher paying jobs to the riding that will allow people to live and thrive here?

Here are their answers.

Doug Clovechok, BC Liberal

The BC Liberal’s plan for British Columbia is working, but there is a lot more to do in Columbia River-Revelstoke so everyone can find a good paying, family supporting job. Our province is first in Canada for economic growth and job creation and the fifth consecutive balanced budget that our government tabled in February includes actions that will help create jobs and encourage entrepreneurship, including cutting the small business tax to two per cent from 2.5 per cent, and eliminating the PST on electricity sales.

Communities like ours face unique challenges. That’s why our government has launched a Rural Economic Development Strategy to support growing rural communities, including continuing the Rural Dividend Fund that benefits regions like ours, making targeted trades and skills training investments, and providing new funding for high-speed internet throughout B.C. We have come a long way since the 1990s, when we had the highest unemployment in western Canada. What’s happening in Alberta is a reminder that if we want jobs for our families, we can’t go back to the job killing, anti-business policies of the NDP. I’m running to be your BC Liberal MLA to be your champion in Victoria for a strong economy and job creation in Columbia River-Revelstoke.

Justin Hooles, Independent

We need to bring down the cost of operating a business. Power, natural gas (or propane), and card payment terminals are causing massive financial strain on our businesses.

Many of the buildings in the historic business sectors of our cities are very old and in need of upgrades. Government rebates are available to help businesses replace their outdated appliances with more efficient ones, as well as replacing old insulation, however, many of the business owners feel overwhelmed by the process and are not taking advantage of these opportunities.

We need a riding-wide initiative to help streamline these changes, and provide estimates of the benefits to business owners. These savings, in turn, could be reinvested into the community and used to create new jobs.

People who are struggling to get by, do not take risks. By managing the affordable housing situation we can enable young families to stay in the area, as well as provide the stability needed to foster the next generation of job creators.

There are also opportunities to create new jobs through agriculture, the technology sectors, forestry, and eco-tourism but seeing as I only have 200 words, we will have to leave those for another time.

Gerry Taft, NDP

We need to focus on quality, instead of quantity. And careers instead of ‘jobs’.

First and foremost, we need to retain and increase the good paying public service careers we have in our region. That means not cutting core government services and not going any further down the road of centralization.

We also need to support and encourage the expansion of existing small businesses, as well as new entrepreneurial ventures. There are huge opportunities in so many sectors: food, agriculture, technology, health and seniors care, to name just a few.

We also need to reconnect local resources with local processing. There is no excuse for exporting raw logs. Local timber tenure should be reconnected to local milling requirements to ensure employment in our communities. We need to get serious about value-added, not just in forestry, but in all sectors.

We know our communities will continue to draw tourists from around the world, but we need to diversify and expand beyond tourism.

After 15 years in local government, nine of those as Mayor of Invermere, as well as many years running a small business, I understand the challenges. But I also see the opportunities. I believe that I have the experience to speak to these issues and ensure that our region is well represented in Victoria.

Samson Boyer, Green Party

Columbia River-Revelstoke has so much to offer. We enjoy the best in year-round, world-class outdoor recreation, a solid foundation in technology infrastructure in our quality high-speed Internet and a culture of supporting and encouraging business thanks largely to organizations such as the Columbia Basin Trust. We’ve proven that businesses that started here can grow to great heights. Kicking Horse Coffee, for example, is proudly homegrown and sells their product throughout Canada and the United States.

As MLA, I would like to consider the attraction and retention incentives we might offer to bring new business and encourage start-ups as well as appealing to contractors and independent tech & knowledge workers who might consider Columbia River-Revelstoke their remote working home base.

I want to ensure that makers spaces projects find the support to grow to offer the tools, training, expertise and mentorship needed to help diversify and grow business in the region; such as looking to tax incentives to bring small business and independent contractors.

I’d also like to explore education incentives to bring students to the region who, upon graduation, can fill roles in sectors that are well-paying but tend to be under-staffed, such as health care.

Looking at in-demand post-secondary programs and how we might incorporate them into our local education.

I want to help build an economy, protecting and innovating the old while supporting and growing the new. There are any number of ways this generation of workers earns a living and it will continue to change — fast! We want to keep up, providing the support, services, resources and vision that makes this riding a great choice for securing a sustainable and prosperous future.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, please e-mail it to alex.cooper@revelstokereview.com or call 250-837-4667.

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