Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok had a lot to share with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board on Sept. 14.
First elected in 2017, Clovechok’s riding is as big as Switzerland and still growing. He will add roughly 5,000 new constituents to the current voting population of 32,000 when he acquires part of rural Cranbrook.
“I’m a pretty non-partisan MLA in the sense that when you’re in Victoria you can get a lot of things done for your constituents,” he said. “I bang on the desk once in a while in the house, but I try to build relationships and you all know as much as I the importance of relationships.”
Clovechok paid high praise to CSRD Electoral Area A Director Karen Cathcart, noting their great working relationship in dealing with many issues.
“She is outstanding and works incredibly hard for her constituents,” he said.
Clovechok pointed out he has also been working with Golden Mayor Ron Oszust on the Kicking Horse portion of the Trans-Canada Highway redevelopment project, which is projected to be completed sometime in November.
“The project is on time but $151 million over budget,” he said, noting that when traffic on Hwy 95 was an issue, he was able to convince Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to keep two RCMP traffic members in the area rather than sending them to Cranbrook as planned.
In response to the many animal injuries in the area, Clovechok said he convinced the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to cut roadside grass and shrubberies 10 metres beyond where it was.
“I worked closely with Ron on that to help save animals,” he said.
Clovechok proved to be an advocate for Oszust and his efforts to make sure the courthouse that was destroyed by fire on March 13 is rebuilt in Golden.
“When Mayor Oszust was not getting anywhere, I met with Attorney General Niki Sharma and things started happen,” he said. “They will keep a courthouse in Golden.”
By far, the most calls the MLA receives from Golden and area relate to healthcare.
“People can’t find a doctor or see specialists as constituents are not being given access to Calgary anymore,” he said. “We have 80-year-olds driving across the Rogers Pass for a 20-minute oncology appointment.”
In the Revelstoke area, Clovechok presented a petition with more than 1,300 signatures asking the province for an interim moratorium on all new commercial recreational development within a 20-kilometre radius of the centre of Revelstoke boundary until a backcountry recreation access plan of the area within the Revelstoke Timber Supply Area and the Columbia Block of the Cascadia Timber Supply Area is completed.
Clovechok told CSRD directors he also worked with Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz on the issue of the high gas prices.
Affordability is another huge issue, with daily calls to his riding offices.
“One young guy called mein tears. He has a really good job, a wife and kids and was gonna go poach an animal because he can’t feed his family,” Clovechok said. “We talked him off that ledge and got him some help, but that’s the kind of things are people are facing.”
Another subject Clovechok touched on was the difficulty in finding housing, an issue complicated by the rise of Air BnBs. He also took issue with the lengthy time it takes to get building permits, both on the provincial and municipal side.
Also ridiculous, he said is that one Parsons resident has applied to divide his property into four parcels, one for himself and one each for his three children.Even though the property has been logged and is a former woodlot, he will have to pay $30,000 for archeological studies.
“Water is a huge issue and I’m working with Living Lakes Canada and looking at their research over five years,” he said, noting aquifers in his riding, especially the Columbia Valley, have dropped drastically, something that has to be dealt with as the Columbia River Treaty is being re-negotiated. “I have never seen Columbia so low.”
Clovechok again stressed the critical importance of attending meetings in Victoria.
He said a meeting with Health Minister Adrian Dix, who was not aware of the free Angel Flight program, resulted in a $150,000 for a two-year pilot project.
“I wanted to reiterate the importance of relationships with higher levels of government,” he said, applauding regional district directors for the hard work they do. “I truly appreciate what you do and I can’t speak enough to say how important the relationships are and that we have to work together to take issues to higher levels of government.”
In response to questions from Electoral Area C Marty Gibbons and Electoral Area E Rhona Martin, Clovechok said he is an advocate for the forest industry, including the development of new forest policy and the need to expand value-added opportunities.