NDP candidate for Saanich North and the Islands Gary Holman kicked off his run for the 2013 provincial election by opening two campaign offices April 6 and 7.
Holman’s campaign opened an office in his home town on Salt Spring Island, followed by an office opening on Second Street in Sidney. Holman said both places are the focal points of his effort to win the riding come the May 14 provincial election.
“It was great to see people come into the office with whom I worked so long with,” Holman said of the Salt Spring Island office opening.
He said having worked on a variety of conservation projects with various non-profit groups throughout his political and personal career, he is impressed with the levels of volunteerism both on the Gulf Island and on the Peninsula.
Yet, it’s affordable housing that has Holman’s attention in this provincial campaign. The Peninsula communities are asking for it, he said, but so far developers are only proposing market housing and no one seems to be taking advantage of a Capital Regional District housing fund — something he saw used to great effect on Salt Spring Island.
One solution he suggests is to look to not-for-profit groups that have land that could be used for affordable housing. He admitted that might be directed more for seniors housing, but it might open other doors for local employers whose staff cannot afford to live on the Peninsula.
NDP MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads Maurine Karagianis was at the office opening in Sidney. She said issues such as a lack of affordable housing contribute to rising levels of poverty in B.C. — especially when it comes to the working poor.
“Poverty has risen to high levels,” she said. “It’s a big issue and housing is one of the concerns at the core of that.”
Holman said his top issue in this riding will be affordable housing, as well as public access to better transit services between the east and west sides of the Peninsula.
Holman has been a long-time challenger in the riding, held for more than 12 years by B.C.Liberal Murray Coell, who is retiring from provincial politics this year. Coell’s replacement for the B.C. Liberal Party is Stephen Roberts. Roberts opens a campaign office in Sidney on Saturday, April 13 at 9813 Third Street.
The third challenger in the riding is former Central Saanich municipal councillor Adam Olsen, who is running for the B.C. Green Party.