A number of issues in the Kootenay-Columbia region are closely related, and after meeting with small business owners in a few communities, MP Wayne Stetski says he learned that small business owners share a lot of similar concerns.
In Stetski’s federal riding, he covers three provincial ridings, and 112,500 constituents. He decided to pick communities, and invited the mayor and the MLAs from those communities to meet with small business owners, to have everyone in the same room and on the same page. Stetski hosted these meetings in Fernie, Invermere, and Nelson.
“I invited small businesses to come, so that small businesses can meet with all three layers of government at the same time to let us know how we could help them be more successful,” he said. “I did that to sort of respect their time. In small businesses, time is money, and also so that you wouldn’t find governments sitting there saying well that’s not my job.”
Two issues remained really consistent across all of the communities: lack of affordable housing, and lack of affordable daycare.
“For me, when I thought about affordable housing, I always thought about homelessness and homeless people, and trying to make sure everybody’s got a warm safe place to stay. In the end, we need an entire continuum for dealing with homelessness, through to affordable housing to support every day small business.”
Having more available and affordable housing in these communities, and Golden, would make it easier for small businesses to bring in and retain staff.
Alongside affordable housing, small business owners also want to see more affordable childcare, so that parents can obtain more jobs in their communities. Stetski says that hearing that point was helpful, because it has been one of the NDP’s priorities for a while.
“It was really comforting to hear that from businesses as well. I thought they’d want to talk about taxes. There was some concern about taxes, but it was down the list in terms of what small businesses need to be successful,” he said.
Golden resident Glen Ewan was at the meeting with the MP on January 9, and added that more could be done by the Federal Government to get involved with affordable housing in communities across the province and country.
“The example that we use, is you go back to WWII, the Federal Government said they were going to build houses to house all of the veterans coming back from the war, so something like 300,000 units were built across Canada in a period of something like 30 months. Those are the war-time houses that people still live in today,” he said. “So, you can do it if you’re serious about it and not just talking about it. There are so many problems and issues from not having a home and a safe place to go.”
Stetski speculated that the private sector would not be able to fill the affordable housing gap on its own, and that it will take public housing to provide everyone with an affordable place to live.