Shirley Falstead is taking a second crack at running for Castlegar city council after finishing third in last year’s by-election.
Falstead says her motivations to seek elected office are the same as what drives her to volunteer for the Red Cross and serve on the Rota Villa board.
“I think there’s a gap on city council my skills can fill,” she says. “I feel I can make a difference with my background in reading financial statements and preparing and evaluating business plans.”
Falstead has over 20 years of business experience, including a owning a market garden and research company. She also spent four years on the board of Heritage Credit Union, and served on the boards of a health centre and women’s shelter in Saskatchewan.
She moved to Castlegar seven years ago to be closer to family, and says it’s a beautiful place to live, assuming you can find a home. Affordable housing is the city’s chief issue, she says.
“The need is so immense. I’ve been talking recently to elderly women who are a rent increase away from living in their cars. I’ve actually met someone living in their car. I talked to a lady just last week who spent last winter in a camper in someone’s yard. That’s wrong.”
Falstead says the city has been slow to address the problem. Part of the solution, she says, lies in finding developers for city-owned properties. She attended a conference sponsored by BC Housing where she met developers who have built affordable housing elsewhere.
“It can be done,” she says. “I don’t know why it hasn’t been [here].”
Most of Falstead’s career was spent in Indigenous communities, where she says housing was always an issue. She worked on trying to find ways to make urban housing affordable.
Falstead says the city could also use a walk-in clinic to relieve its busy emergency room, and longer hours for urgent and primary care.
In preparing to run for council, Falstead says she has spoken to current councillors and to residents generally, hearing anger about the Brandson Park decision and Sahlstrom Road closure.