Stilwell: Housing issues echo throughout constituency tour

"Residents in our communities continue to be affected by the opioid crisis"

By Michelle Stilwell

MLA for Parksville-Qualicum

It’s been an absolute pleasure to have a coffee with constituents and hear what’s top-of-mind during my five-stop summer constituency tour concluding last month.

While I often engage with my constituents over the phone or in my office, this was a chance for me to visit the communities I represent, meet with constituents and see what’s new, such as the beautiful Lantzville bus stop. I’ve had one-on-one conversations and group discussions and heard a range of pressing issues, including addiction, housing and forestry.

Sadly, residents in our communities continue to be affected by the opioid crisis.

It is critical that communities receive support from all levels of government to properly tackle this crisis. We need the NDP government to do more to fund a continuum of care and especially recovery treatment. I have been working with community groups to access provincial funding and even reached out to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to invite her to see first-hand the needs of this area.

Homelessness and supportive housing were top of mind for many who came to talk with me.

Whether it’s mental health, addictions or homelessness that have led people to seek supportive housing, they are there for a reason and we must ensure there are resources to help them out of the cycle.

Working together with community partners, I helped the previous government to fund and approve supportive housing in Parksville. On July 30, Orca Place officially opened.

The 52-unit building will help people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, find a place to call their own, including 24/7 supports to help them address different areas of their lives.

I will continue to hold this NDP government to account to ensure those supports are fully-funded in the best interest of our community.

I also heard about housing on my tour, including the need for seniors housing in Lantzville.

I am always available to help local government and community groups access provincial funding and grants to address needs like housing. We need to ensure municipalities and the Province are working towards increasing the supply of affordable housing for not only young families entering the market, but also for our seniors.

Finally, our forestry sector in B.C. is in crisis, with our local community experiencing it first-hand through the Western Forest Products Duke Point Mill temporary shutdown.

The BC Liberals have unveiled a five-point recovery plan for British Columbia’s struggling forestry sector which has already seen 119 weeks of operational downtime announced as well as seven permanent and indefinite closures this year.

I will continue to advocate for swift action from John Horgan alongside my caucus members across the Province.

Thank you again to everyone who came out for the coffee tour. Please continue to keep me informed about the issues that matter to you by contacting me at my office at 250-248-2625 or at Michelle.Stilwell.MLA@leg.bc.ca.

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