Coralee Oakes is running for the B.C. Liberals in Cariboo North. (Photo Submitted)

Coralee Oakes is running for the B.C. Liberals in Cariboo North. (Photo Submitted)

B.C. VOTES 2020: Cariboo North candidate questionnaire – Coralee Oakes, Liberal

Cariboo North election candidates answer a series of questions leading up to the election

We asked Cariboo North election candidates the same five questions — plus one bonus question — leading up to the Oct. 24 election and gave them all the same word limit.

1. How would your provincial government approach a COVID-19 recovery moving forward?

Our approach to COVID-19 recovery moving forward includes ensuring rural communities have access to timely testing, proper PPE for frontline workers and those in the education system. We also need to focus on economic recovery and get support that small businesses can access to stay in business and retain their employees.

2. What will you do to improve road quality in Cariboo North?

We need a completely new approach to improving road quality in the Cariboo. This includes more preventative work, culvert upgrades and ditching. This past spring, almost all the major roads into Quesnel and Williams Lake, from the south, were compromised or at risk of being compromised, with more than 200 trouble spots. We need an assessment of all the major roads into the Cariboo and to develop a multi-year plan to address the needs. This includes the commitment to fix West Fraser and Quesnel Hydraulic roads, a long-term solution for Knickerbocker and Soda Creek, Highway 97 trouble spots like Chen Hill (Alexandria) and Cottonwood, continuing the improvements through the Quesnel at Racing Road, and addressing our bridge issues (Quesnel River Bridge and Johnston Street Bridge).

3. How should we tackle the overdose crisis?

We need to address all illicit drug use in the Cariboo. We need to attract and retain more health professionals that can support individuals with mental health and addictions. We need a detox facility in the riding, and we need faster access to supported long-term treatment facilities in the north with housing options that support their recovery after they have left treatment. We need a far more comprehensive education strategy geared towards young people to educate them on the risk of using illicit drugs.

4. What will resource extraction look like in Cariboo North over the next 10 years?

I want to acknowledge all of the truck drivers and logging contractors who travelled in the caravan last fall to raise the crisis we currently have with policies that are impacting our economy. I believe there is much opportunity in our resource sector. The resource industry has transformed over the years, and we need to continue that transformation. We also need to look at the opportunities for our mining sector. I am proud of the innovators in British Columbia that are tackling challenges such as climate change and making real change on the ground in our industries.

5. Why are you running for MLA of Cariboo North?

When I first got into politics, I ran because I wanted to see improvements in infrastructure like our hospital, saving rural schools, building affordable housing and to support seniors. My lens on what our region needs has shifted following the devastation of the 2017/2018 wildfires and now floods. With seven years of experience navigating the bureaucracy in Victoria, I have learned a lot about what is necessary and needed, how to work collaboratively through change and continue to make those key improvements in Cariboo North.

Bonus Question: What question should we have asked you?

What should we be doing for seniors?

The 75-plus population is forecast to almost double in the Cariboo by 2026 and grow by 156 per cent by 2036. We must significantly reduce wait lists for assisted living, and we must provide our seniors with support in their homes.

READ MORE: Here’s how voting amid a pandemic will happen in B.C.

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