Wildsight Golden hosted a forum for municipal candidates last Wednesday, posing five questions to prospective candidates on the climate and environmental issues that residents in Golden face.
QUESTION 1: Golden often has the poorest air quality in B.C and town council has agreed to write a bylaw to ban wood stoves. What would you do to improve air quality and work on the bylaw?
John Manuel spoke on the current work town staff are doing with the bylaw, as well as that council has been advocating for a new traction material on the highway in the winter that creates less dust.
Wesley Routley spoke to the key elements from the 100 per cent renewable plan that could be implemented, such as the retrofit of older buildings with newer technology to bring them up to date.
Kristi Cooper said she would like to see the wood stove exchange program brought back in full force to help upgrade homes.
Bryan Stevens mentioned he’s seen how the air quality has improved over the years due to various programs and that it takes time to catch up to current issues.
Joy Guyot mentioned that work needs to be done on dust control and advocated for creating a more walkable community and enforcing an idle-free community.
Jeremiah Woods and Chris Glueckler both spoke to other solutions, stating that there were ways other than bylaws to move forward.
QUESTION 2: What would you do to make our community more resilient to the impacts of climate change?
Cooper and Guyot both advocated to work with the province and to look at municipal services that could be adapted.
Cooper spoke to the importance of ensuring sidewalks aren’t iced in the winter while Guyot supported the development of heat pumps and back up solar power and to help prepare for emergencies through zoning and planning.
Glueckler said council should be looking to make it easier to walk in town and harder to drive, to help combat energy consumption.
Stevens agreed it was a difficult issue, stating that weather is so much quicker than it used to be and that things like fires are a natural part of the ecosystem that bring nature back to balance.
Woods and Manuel both mentioned dredging the river to mitigate flood risk, with Manuel specifying that it required permission from the federal government.
Manuel also mentioned planting shade trees to help reduce rising temperatures and provide relief during heat waves.
Routley spoke on mitigating hazards, such as FireSmarting due to how much fibre and fire fuel exists in the valley in the event of a wildfire.
QUESTION 3: Golden has committed to being 100 renewable by 2050, how do you plan to achieve this in a timely manner?
Stevens and Guyot both advocated to looking to alternative energy moving forward, with Guyot also advocating for a more walkable community.
Woods mentioned looking at ways to generate power from the methane produced at the dump, as well as finding a way to create power from the river, but that it’s important to find ways to generate power with a minimal environmental impact.
Manuel said it’s going to take several initiatives, such as a transport plan, but that a shift in culture is also necessary, which the town can be a part of.
Routley would like to see the parking variance for developers continue, to encouraged electric vehicle charging stations.
Cooper spoke about a walking school bus for children to get them walking to school, as well as the need for a crossing guard to keep the highway crossing safe, so parents can feel comfortable having their kids walk to school.
Glueckler mentioned that education was a key component, as the province oversees quite a bit, but that planning and budgeting will be crucial to ensure that the goal is reached.
QUESTION 4: How would you make Golden more pedestrian and cycle friendly?
Woods mentioned e-cars and e-scooters, as well as educating residents.
Manuel said it would be important to look at improved snow clearing and infrastructure maintenance in the winter.
Routley spoke to the active transportation plan and seeing that continue to move forward, as well as the key corridor around Durand Manor for Golden’s elderly population to access downtown without vehicles.
Cooper spoke to the accessibility of the sidewalks in town, with many having high curbs that can prevent people from utilizing them.
Glueckler once again mentioned making it harder to drive to encourage walking, proposing the idea that the downtown core and mainstreet could be closed to vehicles in summer.
Stevens mentioned education as well, as well as encouraging people to cycle and enforcing current rules on cycle safety such as helmets.
Guyot said she would love to see the addition of a bike lane on the pedestrian bridge, as well as enforcing 15 minute parking downtown and bringing in low-interest loans for the community to invest in e-bikes.
QUESTION 5: How would you develop a successful waste diversion and compost program?
Routley stated that while the Golden landfill falls under CSRD jurisdiction and therefore compost is not up to council, he would like to commend Eat Pure for their compost trailer and supports their actions.
Cooper and Woods both mentioned community gardens, with compost in town going towards that initiative.
Glueckler cited his own experience in Ontario where composting and green bins have long been a staple, saying that if you implement it, it’s simple, but that there needs to a place for the composting.
Stevens said it’s not as simple as just gathering up compost and that he would like to examine it further.
Guyot said she believed it was a perfect opportunity for a private-public sector partnership, if the CSRD can provide land and a business can come in and operate the program.
Manuel says he hopes to see it happen soon, but that it will fall on the CSRD to implement the program.
Absent were candidates Chris Hambruch, Richard Dale and Ron Oszust.