Elected: municipal 100% renewable energy champions

By Montana Burgess

I stayed up late on Saturday night watching municipal election results come in. While I paid for it in the morning when my baby woke me up at 5:30am, I was excited and feel hopeful seeing the final results. While the provincial news focused on the Vancouver election, I want to share a few local highlights.

EcoSociety put together a bunch of helpful information for voters see where their candidates stand on climate, conservation and food issues and to get out and vote, as well as, for volunteers to help others be voters.

Volunteers were busy in our office last week making phone calls. We spoke with hundreds of Voters to help them get to the polls. We even had a calling party from the Selkirk campus in Castlegar. It was fun to have volunteers, both young and old, making calls to help your West Kootenay neighbours get out and be voters.

In Nelson, the elected mayor and 5 of the 6 councillors pledged their support to continue to support the transition to 100% renewable energy no later than 2050. This is especially important as Nelson has already passed a motion to support the transition to renewable energy and direct staff to incorporate our 100% renewable energy goal into 2019-2023 strategic planning for the City. And EcoSociety’s own Jesse Woodward will be transitioning out of the EcoSociety in the coming months after seven years as EcoSociety’s Director of the Nelson Farmers’ Markets to serve on council. I’ll miss Jesse, but I’m proud of the work he’s done to make our markets thrive and look forward to seeing his leadership on Nelson’s City Council.

In Rossland, our election survey showed that four of the six councillors are committed to supporting the transition to 100% renewable energy. Rossland’s mayor, Kathy Moore, was acclaimed as no one ran against her. She has been a champion of environmental issues and healthy communities.

At EcoSociety’s all candidates’ forum in Castlegar, candidates showed interest in the 100% renewable energy transition by supporting active transportation, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. One elected councillor invited the audience to sign-on to EcoSociety’s 100% Renewable Kootenays campaign. Five councilors were elected that attended the forum.

In Slocan, renewable energy champion mayor, Jessica Lunn will continue in her role, along with three returning incumbent councillors. Slocan was the first community in the West Kootenays, and maybe the smallest village in the world, to commit to get off fossil fuels and onto 100% renewable energy no later than 2050. Jessica and her council’s leadership show no matter how small, every community’s commitment to phase out fossil fuels and move to clean energy makes a difference.

In New Denver, voter turnout was up by over 17% since the last time New Denver residents voted in a municipal election. Longtime EcoSociety supporter and star volunteer John Fyke is now an elected councillor.

There are many other amazing people elected as mayors, councillors and area directors in the West Kootenays. I’m looking forward to working with all these committed leaders to build sustainable communities and keep our wilderness wild. We can transition to 100% renewable energy, build green jobs and healthy communities if we start now right, here in your community. We can do our part from the Kootenays to make a difference.

And most importantly, thank you for being a Voter. We have lots of work to do but I’m very hopeful there are great elected local governments that have the leadership and vision to make the West Kootenays healthy, safe, and on 100% clean energy.