Communities across British Columbia will hold municipal elections on October 15th, 2022. The following questions are intended to be used as a tool by Council of Canadians activists and allies. They can guide interventions at candidate forums or debates, be used while canvassing or tabling at public events and inform communications strategies in local media and other settings.
Climate crisis and the environment
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points out that achieving the Paris Agreement climate targets in order to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic climate change will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” in every aspect of our society—from land use and agriculture to transportation and the built environment. What will you do to integrate climate planning into every aspect of municipal decision-making?
Homes, buildings and transportation are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and they also fall under the jurisdiction of local governments. What will you do to rapidly cut emissions from these sectors in line with the Paris Agreement targets?
Fossil fuel projects and a just transition
How will you reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions in line with global efforts? Will these steps respect Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and autonomy and invest in and expand public ownership of essential infrastructure, services, and utilities?
Will you protect our waterways, climate, and communities by taking a stand against the further expansion of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and the construction of new pipeline infrastructure in this province?
Will you push the provincial government to end fossil fuels subsidies and establish a moratorium on new oil and gas projects in British Columbia?
In order to reduce emissions in line with our climate commitments, it will be necessary to rapidly phase out carbon-intensive jobs and massively expand clean jobs. We need just transition policies to ensure that workers and communities will be well supported during this process—through a jobs guarantee, income supports, and expanded social services. How will you work to implement a just transition for workers and the most affected communities in this province as we rapidly transition to a low-carbon economy?
How will you protect farmlands and greenspaces in our community, ensuring food security and supporting local, organic, regenerative agriculture?
Sue Big Oil campaign
As the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation continue to rise, all levels of government are faced with the question of how to pay for the transition to a low-carbon economy. Drawing on the polluter pays principle, the Sue Big Oil campaign makes a simple yet bold argument: the companies that have made enormous profits from oil and gas extraction should pay for their share of the climate damage caused by their business model. The City of Vancouver has already voted to put aside funds for a historic joint class-action lawsuit against Big Oil, and other municipalities are poised to follow suit. Would you support a motion that would commit our municipality to joining the class action lawsuit?
Homes and buildings
Will you commit to upgrading building codes to implement strict energy efficiency standards?
Will you join cities across the continent in banning natural gas in all new construction projects?
Heat pumps and other housing retrofits can improve energy efficiency in homes and are essential tools for adapting to increasingly extreme weather. However, the initial costs of these retrofits can put them out of reach for many. What will you do to ensure that low-income and elderly folks have access to these potentially life-saving tools?
Public transportation and infrastructure
Will you make planning and land use decisions that prioritize non-motorized forms of transportation? Be specific.
What will you do to promote low-emission, walkable communities? What specific actions will you take to reduce car dependence and improve public transportation?
With high gas prices a major component of the cost-of-living crisis, simply getting to work or visiting friends and family has become a financial burden for many people. Will you work to reduce or eliminate transit fares to assist your constituents with soaring transportation costs?
Poverty, housing affordability, and living wages
Rental housing is acutely unaffordable in communities across this province. What will you do to address this aspect of the broader cost-of-living crisis? What specific actions will you take to ensure the fundamental right to housing for people experiencing houselessness and housing insecurity?
What will you do to support the expansion of non-market, truly affordable housing, including non-profit and co-operative housing?
With ballooning rents increasingly out of reach for ordinary people, rent control policies are in the spotlight—including rent control policies that remain in place after a previous tenant has moved out and a new tenant has moved in, ensuring continuity of affordability. What is your position on rent control?
Popular short-term rental services like Airbnb have reduced the availability of long-term rental housing stock and driven up rents. What will you do to ensure that affordable rental housing is prioritized over short-term vacation rentals?
Will you support living wage legislation to ensure that all city residents can afford to work and live in your community?
Water and wastewater infrastructure
Public-private partnerships (P3s) for water and wastewater infrastructure can be more costly to municipalities, decrease water quality, increase costs and cut jobs. What is your position on the participation of private, for-profit partners in municipal water, wastewater and stormwater services?
Communities across Canada are raising concerns about the impacts of water-takings from local watersheds by for-profit bottling companies. Citizens are calling on municipal governments and school boards to stop selling bottled water. Would you support a ban on the sale of single-use water bottles in public facilities and at public events in our municipality?
What would you do to make tap water more available in public gathering places and events in our municipality?
Will you ensure that no household will have their water cut off due to non-payment?
Will you work together with the federal and provincial governments to ensure access to clean drinking water on all First Nations reserves? Will you advocate for Indigenous control of community water resources?
Reconciliation and Indigenous sovereignty
What steps will you take to build relationships with Indigenous nations whose land your municipality occupies, implement Indigenous laws locally and work towards Land Back initiatives in your community?
How will you implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action directed at municipal governments? The TRC calls for the full implementation of UNDRIP and the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius as legal arguments used in disputes with Indigenous people. What will you do to ensure that the B.C. government rejects terra nullius arguments in land claims cases?
How will you work to provide education for public servants on the history of Indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, Indigenous law and Indigenous-Crown relations?
What support will you provide to ongoing efforts to identify and document residential school cemeteries, including memorial and commemorative efforts? Will you work together with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect residential school records?
Pharmacare, health care and public health policy
Universal, public pharmacare will save significant amounts for employers, including cash-strapped municipalities. But the provincial government under Horgan is threatening to slow-walk negotiations over pharmacare as leverage for increased transfer payments on health. Will you pressure the provincial government to work with the federal government to implement universal pharmacare? Will you join B.C. municipalities including Victoria, Burnaby and Port Moody in formally calling on the federal government to establish a national pharmacare program?
The unregulated, toxic drug supply in British Columbia continues to wreak havoc in communities across the province. More than 10,000 B.C. residents have died from toxic drugs and preventable overdoses since a public health emergency was declared in 2016, with an average of six people dying in this province every day this year. Do you support evidence-based harm reduction strategies like safe supply to end this crisis and save lives?
Although COVID-19 policies have been relaxed or abandoned at all levels of government in Canada, the unmitigated spread of this virus remains an ongoing public health crisis, with significant health impacts on workers, the elderly and immunocompromised people. The toll of the virus is cumulative over multiple reinfections, and we continue to learn more about serious long-term health consequences including Long Covid. What steps will you take to reinstate common-sense public health policies such as indoor masking to reduce the toll of this virus?
We know that COVID-19 is an airborne virus, and one of the most effective tools we have for reducing spread is clean indoor air. Will you support infrastructure upgrades and revised building codes that prioritize adequate ventilation and air filtration?