Last Wednesday I finished my Ride-the-Riding trip, eight days of cycling through the south Okanagan, Boundary Country, and the West Kootenay. I did this last year as well, and it was a great success on three fronts. First, it let me move through the riding slowly, stopping for breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner in cafes and pubs in communities of all sizes where I could meet anyone who wanted to have a chat. Second, it highlighted the many hiking and biking trails that are such an asset to our region. And finally, it gave me some much-needed exercise before heading back to Ottawa in mid-September—when they say parliament sits, they mean it!
So, what did I hear? Many people wanted to talk about Donald Trump and the situation south of the border. How should we be negotiating NAFTA and softwood lumber with an administration that seems to change its mind every morning at 3 a.m.? Others wanted to know my thoughts on the NDP leadership race that has been quietly simmering through the summer and is now coming to the surface as voting begins on September 18th. For the record, I would be happy to serve under any of the four candidates and have not yet made my decision as to who I will support on the first ballot.
Several mayors, councillors and regional district directors came out to events along the way, and it was good to meet with them again and talk about issues affecting the region. I was particularly happy to meet up with Doug McMynn, the new mayor of Midway, since we hadn’t met face-to-face before.
At a big pancake breakfast at Big White I talked to local business owners about that community, which has challenges not faced by other others in the region. One of their big concerns is to simply have a postal code assigned to the mountain, since now they are lumped in with rural Kelowna. I’ve been working on that issue since getting elected and I think we’re close to a solution. We left Big White just before the Joe Rich fire closed the road—and wildfires were of course another topic that dominated conversations throughout the tour.
Naturally, when I was cycling with locals along the trails, I heard of the issues around trail creation, maintenance and management. Events at Midway and Grand Forks during my trip celebrated some of the improvements to the trail, especially the new surface between Grand Forks and Christina Lake. One of the primary trail issues is in the south Okanagan, where many are advocating for a trail that would follow the old railbed along the west side of Vaseux Lake, allowing cyclists to travel off-highway from Okanagan Lake all the way to Osoyoos.
I finished the ride on the beautiful Slocan River Rail Trail. My bicycle odometer clicked over 519 kilometers at the end of the line, a long ride through some of the most beautiful country on the continent, and some of the friendliest people in the country. We are so fortunate to live in this place!
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at Richard.Cannings@parl.gc.ca.