BC VOTES 2020: A candidate guide for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain

Here's what provincial candidates have to say about affordable housing, COVID-19 economic recovery, the environment and their political views

If you're a voter in the riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, it's not a stretch to say that every vote counts: last election cycle the race was decided by a mere 87 ballots. 

This year, it's more complicated. With the pandemic adding an extra layer of stress, either at your polling station or through an unfamiliar mail-in procedure, we offer you a preview of whose names will be on the ballot — BC Liberal Joan Isaacs, BC NDP Fin Donnelly and BC Green Adam Bremner-Akins — and what they stand for.

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Need more? Check out the candidates for yourself in the full-length debates at the bottom of this page and read our coverage here.

 

Joan Isaacs

Joan Isaacs, BC Liberal Party

Occupation: Incumbent MLA

Brief bio: I like to connect with people. As a person who is enthusiastic to help and build better communities, I want to apply my experience, not only from my business and political side, but as a hockey mom with two sons, a mom struggling to find child care, and as a wife and business partner with my husband. 

Professionally, I spent over 30 years in the financial services industry, established a successful investment firm, and founded a consulting company to help non-profit and for-profit organizations. 

I am community-minded and passionate about youth and families, seniors, housing and homelessness, mental health and restorative justice.  

What is your most important issue, platform or idea for voters in this election and why?

There are three priorities for me:

1) Burke Mountain is growing with many families moving in. The priority for the Burke Mountain area is to build a middle / secondary school. Families and students deserve the opportunity to attend a school in their own neighbourhood. This school is long overdue. I have been fighting for schools to be built since the 2017 NDP promise that they would fast track schools on Burke Mountain.

2) The need for additional childcare is a priority. Families are still struggling to find childcare at an affordable cost. Several childcare spots opted to close after changes we made in 2018 and others decided not to open under the current business model. This left even a greater shortage of available spots. Childcare remains an urgent priority so families can return to work knowing their children are appropriately cared for.

3) Small businesses are vital to our local economy, create local jobs and are our favourite destination spots to socialize. Many have had to lay off staff and are struggling to survive and keep their doors open. I want to support local small businesses and assist them to move forward. 

The cost of housing, including rents and condos, is expensive and families are having to move out of the Tri-Cities to make ends meet. What would you do as a Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA to improve housing affordability in the area?

We need to provide a range of housing options that include, low income housing, senior housing, condos, townhouses and single dwellings. 

People move to B.C. every month and they need a place to live. We need to densify in order to create a mix of affordable housing units. We need to work with municipalities to help streamline the process, create efficiencies and get to the construction stage. 

Housing isn't going to be affordable if it isn't available. Getting the supply side looked after helps both home ownership and open up more rental units.

Many people have been struggling with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; what would you advocate as an MLA to help the people of the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding get back on a solid footing, restore their confidence in public health and the economy? 

As a businessperson and parent, I share the concerns of many struggling in our community. Unlike the NDP who used this pandemic to push an unnecessary election on British Columbians, the BC Liberals are focused on what matters: maintaining and enhancing key social services, including healthcare, while keeping people working. 

As MLA, I will continue to bring my experience as a consultant for nonprofits and businesses to bear. This means working to reduce unnecessary regulations, keeping taxes low, and ensuring British Columbians have the skills they need to be successful in this economy. Especially at this time, it is critical that we have a government that can lay the foundations for jobs and economic growth. 

I will also advocate that social services are funded so that they can meet the needs of our community. This is especially important in the event that they need to respond to any new outbreaks of COVID-19. 

The riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain has long been site to questions over expanding human settlement and how it has encroached on wildlife habitat. Meanwhile, questions over park funding have long simmered here with the so-called underdevelopment of Pinecone Burke Regional Park. How will you address these concerns if you are elected as MLA? 

Our beautiful parks in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain must be preserved for the enjoyment of all residents and British Columbians.

We need a plan to enhance our parks, wildlife, and recreation spaces to ensure our future generations can enjoy their beauty. The BC Liberals' plan will restore the NDP's cuts to BC Parks because we are proud of our landscapes. 

I am also committed to working with Indigenous peoples and community organizations to provide interpretation and education services in parks, and enhance cultural and environmental understanding.

About me:

What books are you currently reading? 

I read the Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia - 4th and 5th editions and I just finished watching the series Suits with my husband.

What type of music, singer or band do you like to listen to?

I am currently listening to Eva Cassidy. When I first heard Eva's powerful voice and guitar music I was so inspired. I thought this was someone who would be one of those few people who reach the top in their profession. I learned that she passed away in 1996 at the age of 33 from melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.  

*See the BC Liberal's full platform here.

 

Fin Donnelly

Fin Donnelly, BC NDP Party

Occupation: Chair of Rivershed Society of BC

Brief bio: As a long-time Coquitlam resident, and a former city councillor and Member of Parliament, I know and understand our community. My wife Lynda and I have seen firsthand the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our neighbours and local businesses. 

Prior to being elected in 2002, I was a community and environmental advocate completing 14 marathon swims to raise awareness about the health of B.C.’s waterways and encourage environmental conservation, covering more than 3,200 kilometres, including twice swimming the length of the Fraser River. I founded and currently chair the Rivershed Society of BC and co-founded the Fraser Watershed Initiative. 

What is your most important issue, platform or idea for voters in this election and why?

This election is about who we want to lead us through the COVID19 pandemic and economic recovery. That’s why I am proud to be part of the BC NDP team under John Horgan’s strong and stable leadership. People want a government they can trust to be there for them, to make the right decisions, and to invest in them so we can get through this pandemic together and keep building a recovery that works for all of us. 

Coquitlam, and especially the neighbourhoods in the riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, is growing. And as we grow, we need more services and supports. That is why I was so proud to stand with John Horgan last month as we committed to building a new middle school and high school on Burke Mountain. It’s why our work to expand Eagle Ridge Hospital and bring a new Urgent Primary Care Centre to the Tri-Cities is so important to our community. With so many young families choosing to make their homes here, our investment in more $10-a-day childcare is so needed. 

I am committed to protecting our environment now and for future generations, with our continent-leading climate action plan. 

The cost of housing, including rents and condos, is expensive and families are having to move out of the Tri-Cities to make ends meet. What would you do as a Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA to improve housing affordability in the area? 

We need to make sure we’re building a continuum of affordable housing options for everyone — young people, families and seniors. I’m proud of the work the BC NDP has done so far, with 25,000 units of affordable housing in the works — with more on the way. Here in Coquitlam, we’re funding a new and expanded Hoy Creek Co-op, and Council just approved new zoning for our affordable housing project on Ozada Avenue. Our speculation and vacancy tax is working; 11,000 condos that once sat empty are not being rented out. 

Many people have been struggling with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; what would you advocate as an MLA to help the people of the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding get back on a solid footing, restore their confidence in public health and the economy? 

People in our community need timely access to health care, and confidence our system is working for them, when they need it. In a pandemic, that confidence is more important than ever. As your MLA, I will work hard to ensure we have the health resources needed. 

I am proud of the BC NDP’s work to expand Eagle Ridge Hospital and bring a new Urgent Primary Care Centre to the Tri-Cities, and our commitment to hire 7,000 new health workers to fight COVID-19 while also ensuring our frontline health workers have the tools they need. Healthcare isn’t the only concern facing our community in the wake of this pandemic. 

We need to ensure that, as we continue through and eventually come out of this pandemic, we are building a better economy, one that is focused on people and works for everyone. That’s why the BC NDP is investing $8 billion to kickstart the economy. We have a 15% hiring tax credit for new employees and a PST rebate on machinery and equipment. By helping people succeed, we can build a recovery that works for everyone.

The riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain has long been site to questions over expanding human settlement and how it has encroached on wildlife habitat. Meanwhile, questions over park funding have long simmered here with the so-called underdevelopment of Pinecone Burke Regional Park. How will you address these concerns if you are elected as MLA? 

During the pandemic, our parks have been used and appreciated even more not just for their natural beauty, but for our mental and physical health. I am committed to conserving and protecting Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, established by one of my political heroes former Environment Minister John Cashore (who lives in the riding). The BC NDP is committed to expanding our popular provincial parks, by creating new campgrounds, trails and protected areas, while increasing funding to improve infrastructure and park ecosystems.

About me:

What books are you currently reading/watching? 

Simon Fraser: In Search of Modern British Columbia by Stephen Hume.

What type of music, singer or band do you like to listen to? 

Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, K.D. Lang, Dan Mangan. 

*See the BC NDP's full platform here.

 

Adam Bremner-Akins

Adam Bremner-Akins, BC Green Party

Occupation: SFU student in Political Science

Brief bio: I grew up in the Tri-Cities, and while my interests extend to the serious challenges across the province, my focus is here. I am a local climate activist and have bene fighting for climate action and sustainable business in B.C. I have held multiple non-partisan climate strikes with local politicians and worked to advance the issues of youth. I believe we need new and passionate voices in the legislature, and believe I am able to offer that to the people of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.

What is your most important issue, platform or idea for voters in this election and why?

The most important issue for me in the election is climate action and using our economic recovery from COVID-19 as a context to create a sustainable economy. We can’t transition away from fossil fuels without incorporating local businesses and companies that produce clean energy and sustainable products. 

If we utilize these businesses in B.C., make sure we include minority groups normally left out of policy decisions, use government policy to halt fossil fuel subsidies, and ban dangerous practices like fracking, we will be able create a green economy that works for all British Columbians. 

The cost of housing, including rents and condos, is expensive and families are having to move out of the Tri-Cities to make ends meet, What would you do as a Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA to improve housing affordability in the area?

We need to close loopholes that allow speculators to treat housing like a commodity. However, for the foreseeable future, buying a home will be a dream for many people.

We would work with local governments to increase the supply of medium density housing such as triplexes. Government can help dramatically through active support of cooperative housing. We would create a land bank and help provide security for co-ops on leased land. We would immediately introduce a means tested rental supplement for low and moderate earners paying more than 30% of their income on rent. 

Many people have been struggling with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; what would you advocate as an MLA to help the people of the Port Moody-Coquitlam riding get back on a solid footing, restore their confidence in public health and the economy?

I don’t think that the people of the riding have lost confidence in Dr. Bonnie Henry, or public health. Quite the contrary, I believe we have immense respect for the people in our public health system and they work that they have done for us for the last eight months. However, people are going to need ongoing support through this ongoing pandemic, and reasons to believe, that at the other end, things are not only going to be OK, they are going to be better than they were before.  

We are committed to supporting our most economically vulnerable, those on income support, youth aging out of care, seniors, those with disabilities and renters. At the same time we will immediately move to support small businesses with a $300 million six-month rent subsidy program. 

However, people need to have hope that things are going to be better after this. We would provide a vision for transitioning our economy out of the boom and bust cycle of resource extraction and away from climate destroying dependency on fossil fuels. British Columbians, perhaps more than anyone else in the world, are ready to transition to a green economy and we have the plan. 

The riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain has long been site to questions over expanding human settlement and how it has encroached on wildlife habitat. Meanwhile, questions over park funding have long simmered here with the so-called underdevelopment of Pinecone Burke Regional Park. How will you address these concerns if you are elected as MLA? 

The development on Burke Mountain has pushed suburban expansion pretty well as far as it can. Tiers of 30 foot retaining walls are an extreme strategy to provide single family housing but have allowed people to penetrate deeply into what was once wildlife habitat. The consequences for animals, watersheds and ‘treescapes’ are obvious. It’s a form of expansion that the planet can’t afford any longer.   

About me:

What books are you currently reading? 

As a full time student most of my reading is text books right now. Currently, I’m trying to squeeze Citizen Politics, Public Opinion and Political Parties between emails and debates. 

What type of music, singer or ban do you like to listen to? 

My Spotify playlist is very diverse. It contains lots of pre-1985 music, mixed with with Lizzo and other pop.

*See the BC Green's full platform here.

Watch the candidates debate:

Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce All-Candidates Debate (Oct. 14)

Coquitlam-Burke Mountain Debate on the Environment, Oct. 16

See our candidate guides for the Tri-Cities other three ridings: Coquitlam-Maillardville, Port Moody-Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.

For more on local and provincial election coverage, visit the Tri-City News B.C. Votes election hub

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