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Election candidate profile: Consultation, wells among issues: NDP candidate

Vance Buchwald, from Nordegg, longs for an accountable government that takes public consultation seriously
NDP candidate Vance Buchwald. Submitted photo

SUNDRE - Vance Buchwald, the Alberta NDP’s candidate for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, longs for an accountable government that takes public consultation seriously.

Born in Edmonton, Buchwald’s career as an animal biologist first involved working for an environmental consultant prior to taking a position with the provincial government’s fisheries management department that spanned three decades. He retired in 2017 and settled in Nordegg.

A growing frustration with both the former and current UCP leadership’s top-down approach to governing was primarily what motivated him to run for public office.

“They just make decisions and we need to live with it,” he told the Albertan on May 2 at the Sundre Community Centre minutes before a roundtable discussion with more than a dozen residents.

Adding insult to injury, the government has also “changed a lot of legislation so that the public interest is no longer a priority,” he said, adding a change toward responsible government that is held accountable is needed.

There’s also plenty of concern over the growing number of orphan and abandoned wells, which on average increases annually by about 5,000, he said.

“The reclamation that’s being done is not enough to reduce the number of abandoned wells,” he said, adding the count is already at 170,000. “So, it’s going to be hard to get a handle on that.”

He also cited health-care funding – or lack thereof – as a main issue in the region. Offering a breakdown of financial figures he said were obtained through a request for information, Buchwald said that during the period from 2008-2018, Alberta Health Services Central Zone received about $107 million in health-care infrastructure funding, amounting to about $220 per person. That’s a stark contrast compared with $1,633 for Calgary; $1,118 for Edmonton; $1,513 for the South Zone; and $2,086 for the logistically more complicated North Zone, he said.

“That’s why the Sundre hospital is in the condition that it’s in and other hospitals throughout Central Alberta,” he said, adding Central Zone seems to get forgotten as a result of its geographic location between Edmonton and Calgary.

And if the Red Deer hospital were properly equipped, the facility could for example accommodate more complicated cardiac procedures and by extension reduce a local patient’s chances of enduring an even longer and rougher ambulance ride to another centre.

Education, social services, and the environment also come up among people’s top concerns, he said.


Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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