By Natasha Edmunds

On Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of organizing and attending the all candidates’ forum in Castlegar. The Community Complex was packed with families and neighbours buzzing with excitement. The EcoSociety, in partnership with Citizens Climate Lobby, Kootenay Family place and St. David’s Anglican Church, hosted the forum. 100 people filled the room, all eager to see how their candidates are going to create a healthy future for their families and community.

The candidates present were Deb McIntosh, running for mayor, and councillor candidates Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, Nicole Hegert, Tyler Maddocks, Maria McFaddin, Bergen Price, Dan Rye, Janna Sylvest, and Florio Vassilakakis.

The candidates who did not attend the forum were: Gordan Lamont, Cherryl Macleod, Brian Smitheram, running for council, and Lawrence Chernoff and Bruno Tassone, running for mayor.

Each candidate had the chance to speak questions regarding affordable housing, healthy communities and the transition to 100% renewable energy. Candidates all voiced support for the transition to 100% renewable energy. The question was worded as:

Climate change is more urgent than ever. With the recent release of the latest international report from scientists and a 2018 with catastrophic flooding, wildfires and smoke, we are feeling the urgency to reduce our carbon pollution even at the local level. If elected, how will you support the community of Castlegar to transition off of fossil fuels to 100% Renewable Energy?

Candidates gave examples of taking action by encouraging the audience to sign-onto the 100% Renewable Kootenays Initiative, encouraging more active transportation and electric vehicles, improving infrastructure efficiency, and supporting farmers markets. How great is that?!

I was excited to hear that most candidates acknowledged that municipal leadership and community partnership is key to transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, and that we need to begin working together now.

I feel hopeful for the future of Castlegar and the Kootenays, and for Castlegar’s opportunity to join in the 100% Renewable Kootenays movement. Imagine this: 100% Renewable West Kootenays – pre-eminent rural-Canadian model of inclusive and ecologically sustainable living. Sounds great, right? Sounds like our future to me.