FALL RIVER: Anthony Edmonds isn’t about to let the fact he’s young or representing an underdog party labelled by many simply as “tree huggers” hold him back.
The Wellington resident is proud and ready to contest the seat for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank waving the Nova Scotia Green Party colours.
He knows he’s in an uphill battle against candidates from more widely known parties, including Liberal incumbent Bill Horne; PC Dan McNaughton; and Trevor Sanipass of the NDP.
He has a vision for how he would like to improve the community of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank. He also has the fact that there are no party lines with the Green Party. In other words, he can vote on the side of his constituents.
None of the candidates knew ahead of time what questions they would be asked.
Laker: “How can you improve the riding? How will your platform to do that for the riding?”
Edmonds: “I think there are a lot of things that we can do out here. We have a great asset in this district, which is the airport obviously, and the developments at the Aerotech Park. There’s so much going on there, there’s so many opportunities for people to work there.
“I think that really feeds into the core question, not to get to far ahead of you, because that’s where the quarry site is, and that’s a really lost opportunity where there could be more high tech aerospace jobs and growth that way and so much better and more sustainable for the community than resource extraction, which will employ practically no one.
“I think that’s something to focus on at least in terms of not approving that quarry.
“For the longer term, for the Green Party generally our platform is built on building new sustainable industries. As you can see across Grand Lake, there are new windmills going up, there’s jobs putting those up and jobs maintaining them. We need more wind power, more solar power, more of those things because those are the big growing industries right now. We need to be on the crest of that wave and not left in the dust. In that way there are a lot of opportunities for us out here and the province as a while.”
Laker: (Reader Question) “What is your plan to extend water service to the residential areas that are not included in the current project?”
Edmonds: “It’s something very interesting. Halifax Water is governed municipally, so directly there’s not really much the province can do except through funding from subsidies they can encourage these things.
“Another key part of the Green Party platform is food security, including drinkable water security. I think in terms, besides the umbrella issues of avoiding industries that are going to cause run off and poison our drinking water and things like that, setting that aside, it is really important that we try to make sure everyone has clean, drinkable water. If the quality of well water is going to decline, obviously that’s going to mean necessarily extending municipal water service.
“In areas that it is needed, it needs to be done and that’s something worth investing in. Infrastructure investments pay huge dividends in the long run and those are the things we should be investing in as a province and not trying to woo businesses to come here from abroad. If you build it they will come.
“If you have solid infrastructure, an educated work force, Nova Scotians are smart and adaptable, entrepreneurial and will make industry here. We need infrastructure and that is where our tax dollars should be focused 100 per cent.”
Laker: (Reader Question) “Bill 75 is still pretty fresh in our minds. What are your plans on repealing it?”
Edmonds: “This is a huge, huge issue this election. It’s kind of a no-brainer on Bill 75. It was hugely unpopular and just, in terms of how to resolve that situation in a grand scheme; it’s so complex I don’t think we’d have time in this interview on it. I’m certainly no expert on it, but in terms of Bill 75 it definitely needs to be repealed.
“As an interim solution until a contract can be made, I think the important thing is going to be more transparency in the process, the public needs to be more aware of the processes that are happening, and there should be fewer or ideally no closed door meetings between the union representatives and the province. It’s something we all have a stake in and deserve to know.”
Laker: (Reader Question) “What are the candidates’ views on the need for seniors housing in the riding? How do they think the needs are best addressed?”
Edmonds: “I think that question is aimed at a particular development of the Fall River Road, if I had to guess (he said as he smiles). I’ve spoken to a few people about this, and obviously there’s mixed views. If the infrastructure can support it, and that’s not something that I can speak to right now.
“If it is viable then I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t go through because I think it would be an asset to the community, especially if transit services are extended through to service that area. That would be really great for residents of complexes in that area. It’ll bring jobs to the area. I think that’s something that people often overlook is that there’s lots of work in long-term care; and we have a hugely aging population in N.S. so the spending on long-term care is going to be necessarily high, but the flip side of that is there will be a lot of sustainable long-term jobs for workers and Registered Nurses to provide care of those facilities.
“By moving these facilities out of the downtown area, to areas like this, it could make for more green opportunities like active transportation, effective transit, and less congestion on our roads and highways.
“The other thing that’s really good to do is get rid of this really stark divide between where you go to work and where you live. It’s more convenient and better for the environment.
“This is a beautiful community, and if I was a senior I would love to live here. It’s exciting in that way. I’m in favour of a senior’s complex in this area.”
Laker: (Reader question) “Since the Aerotech/Hwy 2 connector is approved financially, how come it’s going to take four years to be complete. There are plenty of companies out there that could have this done within a year or so. What are the candidates plans to speed this process up?”
Edmonds: “I’ll start by saying and I’m sure everyone in this community is aware it is so desperately needed. It’s one of those other green things you don’t think about. Cars idling on an off ramp, that’s terrible for the environment. Really, we need to address that. That connector is a fantastic thing.
“The connector affects me very personally, because I live right in Wellington where the connector is going in. I work at the airport. That would cut my commute by two-thirds. I could take a bicycle if it was bicycle accessible.
“In terms of the schedule of things, from my understanding and it’s interesting as people selling it as a “if you elect me, you’ll get this” thing. I’m pretty sure it’s been in the works for a long time. So I don’t think that was totally ingenious.
“Leaving that aside, I expect the schedule was laid out based on available funding, resources, and different priorities. It obviously stings seeing the dire need for it to think that it’s lower priority than something else. Without the list of priorities laid out in front of me, I can’t really say, but I will say just another reason why we should not be twinning highways. This is a place where roadwork is desperately needed, other places not so much.
“I think our government’s priorities are a little bit skewed. There should be less picking projects based on votes and constituencies and territories, and there should be a lot more based on actual need.
“I would say the good people at TIR (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal) might make it slightly a higher priority, and I’m speculating here, if not for political reasons. And I think that really speaks to the state of politics in Nova Scotia. We’re in a bad place and we need political change in this province.”
Laker: (Reader Question) “There are many university students that come home for the summer. What are your goals for providing work for them in the community of Fall River? How will you keep them engaged in their community?”
Edmonds: “That’s a really great question, and not one that I expected to be asked. I’m really glad you did because it’s a really important point.
“Seasonal work for students is an interesting issue because it’s so transient. I would suggest, and the last thing you would expect to hear from a centrist party, is we need fewer regulatory obstacles to hiring workers short-term. By removing red tape and cutting out the bureaucratic problems around that and streamlining programs that already exist for people in those situations.
“I think we can make that more streamline and effective.
“As for our community in particular, I haven’t thought of the industries that employ students here, but I do know there is a pretty good force of unskilled labour hitting the ground at the airport. As that expands, it’ll likely be good for that demographic.
“I admittedly do not have a specific plan for that issue.”
Laker: “What should people know about you that they don’t know?”
Edmonds: “I grew up mostly on the East Coast, spending a lot of time in Waverley where my father grew up. My parents live there now. That community is very close to me. I now live in Wellington with my fiancée. We’re getting married this August and I’m very much looking forward to that. I was educated at Dalhousie University.
“I got into politics I think more of a necessity than anything else. I saw a lack of leadership in our government, and a lack of accountability and I felt that really needed to be addressed. Someone’s got to do it, and here I am trying to do my very best.”