Wednesday, May 29, 2024
May 29, 2024

MLA column: Colleagues join community meetings

April column from ADAM OLSEN

Saanich North and the Islands MLA

In the W̱SÁNEĆ 13-moon calendar, mid-February to mid-March is the WEXES (frog) moon. It is a time of sacredness and purification, and the time to gather food and medicine. The days grow longer, and the sunshine begins to warm the earth.

The frog, as witness and messenger, awakens from hibernation and announces the coming spring, the sacred season of plenty. This is the exciting time of re-birth and renewal.

It is in this spirit that I renewed in-person public engagement by hosting six community meetings across the riding. I invited my local government colleagues from the Capital Regional District and Islands Trust to join the conversation as we work closely on cross-jurisdictional issues.

We heard how each community is unique, and also the many similarities in the challenges facing the Southern Gulf Islands. They include all forms of transportation, suitable and affordable housing, and access to primary and urgent healthcare. Another similarity is the hundreds of incredible volunteers and administrators who dedicate countless hours for critical non-profit societies.

March 17 was a busy day in Ganges when we arrived. The day started with meetings with constituents to discuss primary health care delivery and clean energy production, followed by our regular monthly Salish Sea Trails Network meeting, and increased financial support for the local abattoir.

I am thankful that both CRD director Gary Holman and Islands Trust trustee Laura Patrick joined the discussion at Fulford Community Hall. I extend the invitation to my local government colleagues because so much of our advocacy requires the collaboration of all the elected representatives.

The first issue we were asked about is an excellent example of the ongoing cross-jurisdictional issues we face in our riding. Specifically, the increasing use of anchorage sites for bulk carrier ships awaiting their cargo at the Vancouver port, and more generally the regulation and enforcement of the marine environment. Your elected officials at all levels continue to strongly voice concerns to Transport Canada about the lack of environmental and social impacts of the anchorages.

A constituent asked about the now infamous Bill 36: Health Professions and Occupations Act. I shared that I feel passing that law by time limiting and closing the debate was a mistake. With more than 600 clauses, rushing it through the legislature has created more questions than the health minister has given answers. Unfortunately, my support of the BC NDP’s process served to further undermine trust and confidence in the government. It was an important learning lesson for me, and I will not be taking part in votes where the government unnecessarily limits the debate.

We discussed the availability of affordable housing, an issue that is challenging in all communities in my riding. The conversation centred on BC Housing’s Drake Road project, the Seabreeze, homelessness, belonging, well-being and the need for a range of housing options available in the community.

It was wonderful to connect with so many people who are passionate about their community. While each community in Saanich North and the Islands is unique, in each community we learned about how elected officials and governments can be more effective in our advocacy, and we heard about frustrations with bureaucratic, administrative and multi-jurisdictional gridlock.

We are committed to working together to represent Salt Spring Island. If you have questions, concerns, ideas, or opportunities please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 250-655-5600 or email Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca.

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