As we move into 2015, my to-do list already seems to be getting longer and longer. There are many projects in every corner of the constituency. Some new, some ongoing, however all are equally important.
We will see work commence on the Lakehill Walkway in Kaleden along with involvement from the school to look at ways to make it safer for the children to cross Lakehill and walk along the side of the roads to school.
I am confident that the Hedley Cemetery will finally come under the umbrella of the Cemetery Society, this important piece of history will be cleaned up and restored to the people of Hedley.
The Town of Midway is working with volunteers in Rock Creek continuing the work on improving fire protection for all the people in the rural area. This is a great example of communities coming together and sharing resources to benefit residents in the area. I would like to thank the Mayor of Midway and the Fire Chief for their ongoing support for this project.
There are also issues that affect the entire constituency. The two-tiered system of electrical billing by Fortis continues to raise questions to the actual benefits of this system, versus the negative impacts on those who are captive to only electricity for all their needs. My office has been an active participant in meetings with the BC Utilities Comission and Fortis for the past year, and we continue to raise this on behalf of all constituents. This remains a top priority for us for 2015, and all these issues are just a sample of the many projects my office is involved in.
The recent re-allocations of hunting tags for resident hunters versus guide outfitters has prompted many emails expressing dismay of this change. This is of course not just a local issue, but concerns hunters across the province. I am a supporter of the B.C. Wildlife Federation and admire the efforts of volunteers who spend their time and energy working on programs to educate the public, in particular for youth. Our office will continue to forward all your concerns to the Minister and I will advocate on behalf of my constituents.
The threat of destructive invasive mussels getting into our waterways is being acted upon locally, provincially and hopefully at the federal level. Our MP’s are pushing their colleagues in Ottawa and the provincial government will also be announcing some programs this spring. This issue requires a coordinated national response.
I also expect a resolution to the issue of how best to preserve and protect the sensitive environment of the South Okanagan. The Minister and staff are consulting with all the stakeholders and will be bringing possible solutions to the discussion table later this spring. I appreciate the spirit of co-operation that was demonstrated at the last round of meetings and I am confident that there will be ideas coming forward that can be supported by all.
And, of course, there is the snow! When it happens all at once we are taken by surprise, but it is wonderful when neighbours step up to help each other. Many thanks to all who helped someone else during this snow event. We are fortunate here in rural B.C. to live amongst so many caring and generous neighbours.
Heavy snowfalls are especially difficult for people with mobility issues and can keep them from getting out of their homes for basic needs like milk and bread. It could be several days before sidewalks and side streets are cleared enough for those using scooters or other mobility equipment to be able to go out. Please check on those who may have extra problems as a result of the snow. There are still a few weeks of winter left, and we could certainly have more snow until spring.
Thanks to Mike Stiles and his great article in the Osoyoos Times about the challenges of day-to-day living when you use a wheelchair to get around in the community. I welcome his input and advice on how we can all do a better job in making our communities more user friendly for all who have accessibility challenges.
The Legislature will resume sitting on Feb. 10, which means I will soon begin my weekly commute once again. I find it is often a benefit to be in Victoria with access to all the Ministers and staff every day in pursuing specific issues for the Boundary-Similkameen. And I know my staff in the Oliver office will continue to work hard on your behalf while I am out of town.
Our government’s focus this year will continue to work on growing the economy, supporting businesses who create opportunities and new jobs for British Columbians, helping find the right fit for those who are under-employed and controlling the debt. Government does not fund social programs, you, the taxpayers do. The healthier our economy, more funding will be available to those who need assistance.
I am looking forward to a busy and productive year.
Linda Larson is the MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.