Courtenay-Alberni Liberal candidate Carrie Powell-Davidson says her first priority if she gets elected will be getting people into jobs.
“The key will be getting back to the manufacturing sector,” said Powell-Davidson, who believes that the Alberni Valley is well primed—and in desperate need—to take advantage of such a strategy.
“We need to get people into jobs that keep families together,” she said, alluding to numerous families she has met while campaigning with one parent working up north or in Alberta.
“We need jobs and innovation in fields from solar energy to water systems.”
She also sees crumbling roads as an opportunity to create jobs; jobs that will both get people into the work force and repair the country’s aging infrastructure.
“One of our biggest plans is our infrastructure funding program,” Powell-Davidson said.
“It is an immediate way to get people back to work when interest rates are low and people need jobs.”
Port Alberni, she adds, is a prime example of where such a program is needed.
“Our investment in infrastructure is geared towards small towns where bridges haven’t been built and roads haven’t been maintained because they don’t have the tax base.”
Off the concrete, Powell-Davidson wants to see the Alberni Valley return to agriculture.
“The Liberal Party is committed to diversifying the economy and agriculture will fall into that,” she said.
“I feel very committed for advocating for a program that grows the pool of young farmers using modern funding techniques.”
The issue, Powell-Davidson thinks, is not in the lack of people wanting to be farmers nor a lack of arable land. It’s in the cost of farming.
“The next generation needs to see it as a viable career option,” she said.
But it’s not only jobs that make a return to agriculture so important in the Alberni Valley.
“I have always been a huge advocate of local food and food security,” Powell-Davidson said.
“We need to be more secure in our own food security; we have a prime growing area.”
The Port Alberni Port Authority’s proposed transshipment hub is another way to bring more jobs to the area, Powell-Davidson believes.
“It ticks off all the boxes,” she said. “It provides the jobs and environment for growth. It is something that is very needed to open up our west coast in terms of getting the infrastructure in place that Port Alberni needs.”
She’d also like to see a greater investment in the arts, something she says the Liberal Party will achieve through their proposed cultural investment program.
“The Canada Council for Arts will receive $360 million and we’ll be increasing funding for national film boards,” said Powell-Davidson.
“We want to reverse current government cuts and create the next generation of museum curators.”