City council by-election candidate Antoinette Halberstadt - in her own words

By antoinette
August 22nd, 2013

Since I’m competing with a couple of Castlegar pedigrees, let me begin by confessing that my earliest engagement in Castlegar was in the ‘80s, at which time I was behind bars here. That was in an Amnesty International event with Sally Williams, Mila and George Richards, and Bud and Ann Godderis.

At that time and for 22 years I was a Winlaw resident, later living in Revelstoke for 11 years to further pursue ambulance work, at which time I was also a successful Revelstoke City Councillor. I retired last year after 26 years of caregiving through my paramedic vocation, returning ‘home’ to the Kootenays in June of 2012 to be in Castlegar with my son Adrian, his wife and my two grandchildren soon after the baby was born.

They’d been thrilled that the Waneta Expansion Project had enabled them to move back home from the coast, employing Adrian as a journeyman cement mason. For me this was also a more personal reward for those great years participating in the creation of The Columbia Basin Trust with Mayor Audrey Moore, Corky Evans, Ed Conroy, Chuck Chatten, Wally Penner, and thousands of Basin residents. The Trust has borne much fruit, the partnerships in power generation being some of them, and I hope Castlegar Council and all of us will treasure and guard this unique institution that is ours.

I was one of the founding members of Winlaw Volunteer Fire Department where I learned to drive the fire trucks, and then later as the ambulance Unit Chief I worked closely with Valley fire departments in the first ever round of disaster planning.

In my Winlaw days our current mayor Lawrence Chernoff — himself a paramedic back then — sometimes worked with us when more ambulances were needed up the Valley.

I led the Winlaw Ambulance crew as their Unit Chief for about 6 of those years, engaging a great deal with the community.

My favourite community liaison project was when we invented an innovative hands-on exercise at Winlaw Elementary School, with the full support of principal Kere MacGregor who is now Twin Rivers’ vice principal. That project resulted in a young child taking amazing command in a medical emergency that she and her mother had come across, for which feat Kere helped us stage a grand little award ceremony.

My small business, “Antoinette’s Gourmet Dip”, was launched from Winlaw in 1989. Its popular Kootenay products – now called Antoinette’s Saltspring and Chili dips — are still in great demand 24 years later, and in fact are right here in our Kootenay Market!

I’m delighted with the caring community and ever-blossoming quality of life offered by Castlegar’s societies and committed individuals, and would like to further cooperate with them all as a city councillor, on behalf of everyone from business owners to workers, seniors to newborns, and helping to bring as-yet-unheard fresh voices to the table.

While immersed in fulltime grandmothering for my first year here, I greatly appreciated the enrichment of Sculpture Walk, participating in Kootenay Family Place programs, CBAL’s Strongstart at Blueberry and Robson schools, and Kindergym at the old Kinnaird school, not to mention local amenities such as “the train station” and Zuckerburg Island, Kinsmen, Kinnaird and Millenium Parks including its new exercise equipment. I’ve lost count of how many times we had to “trip trap over the bridge” with the troll lying in wait under it at the Artfarm, and the first time we did so it was great to be able to pop right over to the library to read The Three Billygoats Gruff. And now the old Castle Theatre is starting to fill another niche for families and others, and the Friends of Castlegar Skatepark are certainly flying high.

Now that our youngest baby is on his feet, enabling me to “grow up and move out of my kids’ basement”, I’ve had time on my hands to prepare to exercise my other skills again, looking forward to broader engagement in Castlegar. As a respected local leader said when I announced my intentions to run, “Your vast experiences in different sectors gives a well rounded perspective that is always needed at a Council table.” and “The fact you have a background in small business, the public sector, health care and numerous volunteer work in the environmental movement and others is a real bonus.”

About City Councilloring in Revelstoke: My election grew out of leadership in the grassroots “Revelstoke Renters’ Voice” society during a serious housing crisis, and from volunteering in many other groups including the local environmental society. During my very successful term I forged a productive relationship with both councillors and staff, and the citizens were happy indeed with how I empowered them, was unafraid of asking hard questions, and improved Council transparency.

Because I’d made an impression, a newspaper editor wrote a special article when I announced I wouldn’t be running again: “How was the only female city councillor’s experience at the council table?” That article, and testimonials from staff, a councillor and many from the public who wrote at that time of my retirement about my integrity, respectfulness, hard work, compassion, etc., is here in the Elect Antoinette Halberstadt website: http://electantoinette.weebly.com/council-experience.html )

Now I’d love to bring the balance of woman councillors up to THREE, which could be dynamite!

Since my return to Castlegar I’ve participated in the Columbia Basin Trust’s recent Environmental Strategic Plan workshop, the lovely local IdleNoMore group, and joined the so-welcoming Doukhobors and Friends for Peace Choir to sing at the ‘Gathering of Eagles’ convergence at the Brilliant Cultural Centre.

It was my productive term as a Revelstoke City Councillor that equipped me to help local Citizens for a Pesticide-free Castlegar and Area, doing what I love to do and which I’ve done since I was an Anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa and Namibia in my late teens and early 20’s, namely helping people to have their voices heard.

For readers who want a more personal peek, I invite you to this page of my election campaign website http://electantoinette.weebly.com/antoinettes-roots.html for a sampling of my creative writing about my South African experiences that also illustrates my longtime passion for human rights and democracy.

If elected, my pledge is to work hard, on YOUR behalf, to:

1. Advance democratic process and transparency,
creating more user-friendly community engagement with Council,
empowering citizens to more easily participate in shaping Castlegar’s future.

2. Enhance Council and City departments’ ability to be a service to all citizens, upholding and advancing everyone’s Quality of Life.

3. Support sustainable and sustaining Economic Development, with a focus on diversification.
I believe that — as in the ecosystems of which we are a part — diversity is key to resilience. This includes downtown revitalization and encouraging innovative young enterprises.

(According to the Chamber of commerce and other residents, one of our community’s needs at present is the supply of moderately-priced basic clothing for seniors and children. How to attract that, while having a preference for ‘smallmart’ rather than falling for the allure of Big Box stores that would decimate small businesses while racing to the bottom regarding wage rates, working conditions and community character? )

I’m told I am a proactive person who can contribute and elicit fresh ideas for this already-vibrant town: from a history of political engagement from age 18 in South Africa, to community leadership and service in the Slocan Valley including during harsh polarized times, to advocating for the public as a Constituency Assistant to MLA Corky Evans, to a recent productive and successful 3-year term as a Revelstoke City Councillor, to helping to move people’s wishes for a safe, healthy, cosmetic-pesticide-free Castlegar to the fore for debate, I can use my experience for best solutions and positive results.

For those Castlegar readers who are on Facebook, I also look forward to your insights, questions and suggestions, via my FB page http://electantoinette.weebly.com/council-experience.html

Thank you for considering voting for me, and wholehearted thanks to The Source for opening doors to dialogue!

Antoinette Halberstadt


Categories: GeneralOp/EdPolitics


8°C Few Clouds

Other News Stories