Chemainus businessman Chris Istace is officially in the running as the BC Green Party candidate for Nanaimo-North Cowichan in the Oct. 24 provincial election.
Istace, 46, was confirmed as the Greens’ hopeful in the riding following a campaign launch at Waterwheel Park in Chemainus Sunday alongside BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau.
“We are thrilled to have a strong, local and engaged person like Chris as our candidate for the BC Greens in Nanaimo-North Cowichan,” noted Furstenau. “Chris brings a diverse background, and political experience, as a local business owner, community advocate and former local government member. Chris’ enthusiasm and love for our communities and our neighbours has been well-documented in his local travels. He has inspired many with his photography and teachings.”
“I am excited to be the BC Greens candidate for North Cowichan-Nanaimo,” remarked Istace. “Our communities give us such hope. As a small business owner, I know the struggles families are facing now. I know how the uncertainty weighs on them and that’s part of what has inspired me to run in this election. Together I know we can overcome this adversity and come out as a stronger, more sustainable and cohesive community.”
Istace is pleased to be part of Furstenau’s team.
“She has such a calm confidence, inspiring demeanour about her,” he said. “She gets to the point.
“She knows how to stand up for things that are right even in the face of such adversity.”
Istace and wife Judy came to Chemainus from Saskatchewan coming up to seven years ago this fall. They have a son Brandon, 21, and daughter Jaiden, 19.
“I went to the throne speeches and budgets up there and connected with the MLAs while I was there,” he indicated.
Istace previously spent 21 years in the oil and gas industry that ultimately led to operations management and technical sales.
“Our life changed coming this way. I kind of refocused.”
Istace served two terms as a city councillor in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
He’s always been passionate about community involvement, serving on the board of directors for the Chemainus Business Improvement Association – including the presidency – and the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society for the past five years.
His interest in politics has continued since moving to Chemainus and following Municipality of North Cowichan matters closely.
“I’m always at council meetings and engaging,” said Istace.
For more than 18 years, he’s been a small business owner as well as a writer and photographer in the tourism field while mentoring with the Alpine Club of Canada, Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC and Island Mountain Ramblers.
Istace’s priorities for Nanaimo-North Cowichan include developing affordable housing for the riding.
“We’re actively seeing people struggling with wages and being able to afford to live here,” he said. “How can we make housing attainable so that everyone can live here and enjoy it, not just those with the privilege and the means.”
Istace is also looking to take action on the opioid crisis and increase mental health services to respond to the crisis.
On the economy, he’s prioritizing local businesses and supporting the forest industry.
“We need to focus on being sustainable on a Vancouver Island level and a B.C. level,” Istace said.
As he hits the campaign trail to bring positive changes to the communities within Nanaimo-North Cowichan, Istace realizes campaigning is going to be quite different, but is anxious to reach out to people in the riding to hear about their thoughts, concerns and solutions.
“Our goal is lots of advertising, really connect people with social media, videos,” he said.
Istace also believes with COVID, it’s perhaps best to meet with people outdoors in their own comfort zones where space isn’t an issue at various distanced public events.
He had strong feelings initially about the election call by Premier John Horgan because of the cooperation brought about by the arrangement between the NDP and the Greens.
“We need stability, it’s unfortunate calling it now,” Istace conceded. “It seems government had been working well to get through this. It shows that coalition government can work. The people of B.C. come first, not politics.”
But with the election a reality, “it’s about focusing forward and being positive,” he added.
– with a file from Cole Schisler, Ladysmith Chronicle.