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Ballot set for sprawling West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding

Economic development, transit, LNG top issues

Voters in the sprawling and disparate riding of West Vancouver-Sea to Sky now have a view of the main challengers on their May 9 provincial election ballot.

Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy says he plans on running on his record of “experience, a practical perspective and an ability to get things done” in the riding, which includes West Vancouver west of 28th Street, Bowen Island, Lions Bay, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.

“It’s urban, it’s rural, it’s First Nations, it’s energy, it’s forestry, it’s agriculture, it’s community development, it’s tourism, it’s ports, it’s transportation, and it’s the need to find the path that balances those interests in a way that sustains both society and the environment,” he said.

He pointed to the province’s cumulative effects framework tool as an example.

Sturdy said he also wants to see more economic development for Squamish to become a “complete community” for the benefit of the riding as a whole.

“That’s a complex issue. It’s not just about infrastructure or transit but it’s also about urban form and housing and where people live and where they can afford to live,” he said. “If Squamish continues to grow at the rate that it is and all it ends up being is a suburb of Vancouver, we’re just exacerbating transportation challenges on the North Shore.”

The NDP has nominated Michelle Livaja, a Bowen Island resident and Capilano University student with a professional career in organized labour.

Livaja took up politics because of the plight of working families.

“Working people and families are working harder than ever and no one’s getting ahead. I’ve been in this province for 45 years and I’ve never seen it like this,” she said. “When I see now that people are having to work two jobs and they’re not home for dinner with families, and they’re having to move and they can’t afford a good place to live, it doesn’t make for strong communities and I’d really like for people to have what I had growing up for their families.”

Specifically, Livaja said she wants to see the province stop exporting raw logs to create more jobs locally. She’s also particularly enthusiastic about her party’s pledge for $10 per day daycare, which she noted the Vancouver Board of Trade is also in support of, and a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“We’ve seen it happen in other jurisdictions. If people are working full time and still living below the poverty line, we have a problem.”

Green Party candidate Dana Taylor said he is bringing his 30-year history of environmental advocacy throughout the riding, including on the Save Howe Sound Society, to the ballot.

Taylor said he stands opposed to developing LNG in the province but couldn’t say whether it would be possible to stop the Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish. Instead, the province should be focused on promoting business in renewable resources, he said.

“Once again, we’re focusing on the wrong issues. Supporting the gas and oil industry, while it has its virtues in terms of the basics of providing jobs, is not addressing the larger issue of an industry that is, if not sun-setting immediately within a very few number of years, will be.”

The second biggest issue in the riding is the cost of housing, particularly from Squamish north to Pemberton, which is feeling the impacts of the Lower Mainland’s overheated housing market.

“Even people who could afford it, can no longer,” he said. For that, Taylor said “everything is on the table” but he’d like to see the province purchase or lease land to create more housing co-ops.
Independent candidate Tristan Galbraith is also running for MLA in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky.