Wow, where did 2018 go? It has been an eventful, interesting, and productive year for Columbia River-Revelstoke. My goal throughout has been to represent all of my constituents’ interests and needs both here at home, and in the legislature in Victoria. Both of our offices and staff have been working hard at my side to accomplish some notable achievements. This has been possible because of the feedback and engagement from you, our constituents and neighbours. Our offices deal daily with health care issues, transportation issues, environmental issues, affordable housing issues and road issues to mention but a few. All are important and below are some examples of the work that is ongoing.
Working alongside my rural MLA colleagues we continue the fight for a comprehensive strategy that will deal with Wildlife Management Issues and Backcountry Closures. Our focus is on the fact that Rural BC is facing more pressure than ever before. We need backcountry access, healthy and sustainable wildlife populations, and a healthy economy that can support families. In short, we need balance. To achieve these goals B.C. needs a process that enables public consultation and input. I am proud to say that I have been a part of the ongoing creation of the Columbia Valley Recreation Access Management Plan. The meetings lead by Radium Hot Springs Mayor (Clara Reinhardt) and RDEK Area ‘G’ Director (Gerry Wilkie) around the development of this plan have been collaborative and successful; this process has brought together a large group of stakeholders with different ideas and needs who are working towards the same outcome. This has been truly rewarding for me as your MLA, and I applaud all parties involved for leading the way. I am excited for what will come in the New Year.
2018 was also the worst year in BC’s history for Wildfires. I had the opportunity to work closely with the Mayor and Fire Chief in Kimberley on the evacuation alert and evacuation order of the Saint Mary Lake area due to the Meachen Creek fire. I saw first-hand the brevity of the conditions and the hard work that was done by those on the front lines. The work is not complete, and currently, I am working to assist our communities with addressing future fire interface work through the CRIP (Community Resiliency Investment Program) and FireSmart programs. Our communities are surrounded by forests, and we must continue our vigilance when it comes to planning for the future by finding the most effective ways to manage and prevent these Wildfires.
Columbia River Treaty
2018 marked the beginning of the negotiations between Canada, B.C., and the United States regarding the Columbia River Treaty. This historical renegotiation will modernize the treaty. I was able to bring the Treaty Team to our headwater communities so that your voices could be heard and documented. As Her Majesty’s Official Opposition Critic for all things Columbia River, I will continue to keep all of our communities informed on the progress of the negotiations as they continue.
Trans Canada Hwy
2018 continued to present Highway Safety issues. Three Valley Gap: Working closely with the citizens of Revelstoke and surrounding communities we took on the Three Valley Gap issue. I personally implored the Premier to do something with this treacherous stretch of the highway. Armed with a stack of letters (we have about 1,000 letters) and pictures of a Constituent’s car that was completely wrecked by a TVG boulder, the Premier was shocked and agreed that the area needed to be addressed. I am happy to report that our efforts did not go unrewarded. The pilot project ‘Rock Wall Attenuator System’ resulted, and today is now 90% complete, as well as the rock block wall being 100% complete at TVG. Credit goes to the citizens who spearheaded and participated in taking action, and together we moved the dial. Kicking Horse Canyon: Improvements are still on track for 2019. This is the most expensive highway project in Canadian history. With a cost of $450 million for 4.8km, you can bet this will be quite the construction marvel. Tender bids should be completed by the latter half of 2019, and if everything runs smoothly, construction could start by the early winter/late fall of 2019.
Medical and Passenger Transportation
After the demise of Greyhound, our offices have seen an increase in calls and emails from Constituents concerned with the lack of options for themselves and their loved ones. We have had meetings around passenger and medical transportation in the CRR with various groups, businesses, and individuals. Together with my staff, I am actively working with those affected communities to explore local solutions. I am putting pressure on this Government and the Minister of Transportation to address our rural transportation needs. Greyhound was an easy, safe, affordable solution. It will not be an easy feat for companies to bring the same level of transportation to our riding and province, but I continue to provide support in any way I can.
The people of BC spoke loud and clear; our current First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system will remain. Here in CRR, over 57 per cent voted to keep FPTP. Although I am thrilled with the outcome, I also recognize that over 40 per cent in CRR voted for some kind of change. I have already reached out to and m et with some PR advocates in our riding to explore ways we can address their concerns. As your MLA it is my duty to represent all voices which I have worked hard to do. As I said from the beginning, I was never opposed to looking at electoral reform. I did, however, object to the rigged, underhanded, and confusing way the BCNDP presented it to British Columbians, in hopes of appeasing the Green Party to maintain power. The 15 million dollars that was spent on this referendum is shameful, given the many needs in rural ridings like affordable housing, medical transportation for seniors, wildlife management, and the lack of qualified staff for our region’s daycares. Together we move forward.
It has been a true honour to represent the hard-working people from Columbia River – Revelstoke. We have not always agreed on some of the issues, but we have found a way to work together to accomplish some significant achievements.
May you and your family be happy, healthy and prosperous in 2019. We are so fortunate to live in this part of the world and I am working hard on your behalf to preserve the lifestyle that we enjoy.