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This article was published 9/8/2019 (234 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When voters in River Heights head to the polls this September, the area’s Green Party candidate is hoping they’ll make a bold choice.
Nathan Zahn, 40, is running for MLA in River Heights, a seat held by former Manitoba Liberal Party leader Jon Gerrard since 1999.
"The opportunity was there for the Green Party to make some serious inroads," Zahn said. "I thought it might be a great chance to put some pressure on the current incumbent, to really push forward some more of the Green Party initiatives, and also looking at the political situation — the NDP had a very small number of votes in the last election — the Conservatives and Liberals are the two contenders.
"I thought it might be a chance to be a viable option for people looking for an organization or party focused on environmental issues in particular."
Zahn is the founder of the Winnipeg-based non-profit Science First and currently serves as the executive director. The organization promotes and advocates for evidence based policy on environmental matters. He is also a long time member of the Green Party of Manitoba and ran for the party in West Kildonan-Garden City in 2007, and is the founder and director of the Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition of Technology, Innovation, and Creativity. The father of one currently lives in North Kildonan after calling River Heights home for 15 years.
When deciding where to run, Zahn said he selected River Heights for its values and believes the Green Party’s platform will resonate with residents.
"None of the parties have been ambitious enough on things like climate change or Lake Winnipeg, so I thought that River Heights would be a great place to engage with people who have the time and interest to take in those issues," Zahn said.
Zahn said the Green Party would support needed upgrades to the City of Winnipeg’s water treatment facilities and be more determined on environmental issues and policy.
"I think that people are, from my conversations at the door, wanting to see more bold plans on reducing carbon emissions, to help Lake Winnipeg, and looking at child care support and family support," he said.
The Green Party of Manitoba’s platform was officially launched on Aug. 9 by leader James Beddome and of the party’s campaign promises, Zahn said the Green approach to public transit has his full support.
"Free transit: I think that is a great idea," Zahn said. "Society can afford it and I think that it would be great for ridership, to reduce people driving cars, and the costs according to the platform are quite manageable to be split between the City and the province."
Of concern to folks in River Heights is quality, accessible home care and hospice service, Zahn said, adding the Green Party is prepared to provide more funding for those programs. Another bold promise the Greens are making includes removing the school tax from annual property tax bills, removing the authority of school divisions to set tax rates, and collecting funds for public education through personal income tax.
"That’s going to be a gigantic one for people and it’s to make sure that all divisions are funded relatively equally," Zahn said.
Also running in River Heights are Jonathan Niemczak for the NDP, Jon Gerrard for the Manitoba Liberal Party, and Susan Boulter for the Progressive Conservatives.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.