Mother Nature cancels BC Premier's trip to Nelson, candidates find campaigning challenging during COVID-19
It has been a challenge to campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic for candidates, including respective party leaders.
However, it wasn’t COVID-19 that upset the apple cart for Nelson-Creston candidate Brittny Anderson as the NDP attempted to bring provincial leader John Horgan to the West Kootenay for a campaign stop in the Heritage City Saturday afternoon.
No, COVID-19 wasn’t to blame, it was Mother Nature doing what she does best to travelers in the West Kootenay.
Fog rolled through the region Saturday causing the Horgan team to cancel plans to fly into Castlegar and remain in Revelstoke, the other stop on the tour for the duration of the day.
However, a little fog didn’t stop Anderson and Kootenay West BC NDP candidate Katrine Conroy for holding a social-distancing rally Saturday afternoon on the deck at Railtown Coffee to discuss the like the BC NDP government’s $500 million strategic investment fund will make the Kootenays the model for diversified local economies.
Anderson and Conroy met with local innovators to discuss the regional Kootenay tech sector, their successes and plans for the future, including representatives from the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST), Selkirk College, SMRT1 Technologies and DPace.
“Nelson is quickly developing a reputation as a vibrant tech hub for bright entrepreneurs who are looking for locations outside of major centres,” said Anderson.
“With the ability to work from literally anywhere, these tech companies understand that many of their workers want experiences that only places like the Kootenays can provide, with immediate access to outdoors, wilderness and clean, family-friendly small-city lifestyles.”
This election campaign has been far from normal thanks to COVID-19.
BC Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has pleaded with citizens to practice social distancing as well as keep their groups small as the provincial grapples with bringing new case numbers down.
“We have strict Covid safe protocols for our foot canvassers, and we are phoning voters all across the riding,” explained Nicole Charlwood of the Nelson-Creston Green Party as the candidate uses other way to connect with voters.
“A lot of the campaign is online, Facebook, Instagram,” added Charlwood, who kicked off the campaign Friday in Nelson with a bike ride down Baker Street before hosting the official launch in front of Nelson City Hall.
Nelson-Creston Liberal candidate Tanya Finley is also working through social media to reach voters as well as following Dr. Henry’s advice.
“We are meeting people individually, wearing masks, and staying physically-distanced, and we’ve had a huge amount of support from people who have said ‘We’ll work on your behalf within our own social bubble to get you elected’, which has been amazing and humbling,” Finley said.
Saturday at Railtown Coffee was a demonstration by Anderson and Conroy on campaigning in COVID-19 times.
“We had a great conversation with those present at railtown about the tech economy in the region. We heard about amazing advancements of local companies into national and global markets while being based here,” said Conroy.
“Local innovators have high praise for the work of KAST and other individuals in creating a tech community that is connected and supportive of one another.”
Conroy said the BC NDP’s $1.5 billion-dollar economic recovery plan includes a $500 million strategic investment fund that will help Kootenay communities expand as a model for diversified local economies, adding this commitment is designed to help make sure BC talent, intellectual property, and good jobs stay in the province.
Horgan’s economic recovery plan includes investing an additional $90 million to expand high-speed networks – the single largest in BC’s history – with continued investment until all regions of the province are connected. This will help places like Nelson create good tech jobs locally and keep top talent close to home.
“It’s more important than ever to keep creating opportunities that grow the tech industry, and create good jobs in our rural region,” said Anderson.
Anderson and Conroy said Premier Horgan’s plan to support BC’s tech sector also includes:
- Funding 2,000 new tech seats at post-secondary institutions to build on progress made in the BC NDP government’s first term.
- Supporting new investment in clean technologies and efficiency in construction design through CleanBC.
- Helping people get the digital marketing training they need to grow their business online through the economic recovery.
Nelson-Creston has been represented NDP MLA Michelle Mungall since 2009.
However, Mungall decided not to seek re-election, leaving the riding wide open to the four candidates — Anderson, Finley, Charlwood and Terry Tiessen of the BC Libertarian Party.
In 2017, Mungall retained the seat for the NDP with a comfortable 14.03 per cent margin over Kim Charlesworth of the Green Party and Tanya Wall of the BC Liberal Party.
The Election Day is Saturday, October 24 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Advance polls are open from Thursday, October 15 to Wednesday, October 21 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.