After such a cool Spring the heat we are now experiencing is a bit of a shock and a reminder of how quickly we can move from a flooding situation to a potential deadly fire season. It is even more of a worry as so many people have taken up camping in our unregulated areas and unfortunately, not everyone treats our environment with care. Garbage left in our forests creates an additional fire hazard and a danger to the health of our wildlife. Please be extra aware of all the potential problems if you choose to go ‘ off the grid’ and be respectful of others and our environment.
The volume of visitors we are experiencing is a mixed blessing for the entire Okanagan, Boundary and Similkameen. Our Tourism Industry desperately needs the numbers of visitors that are here just to continue to survive as businesses, and also, to continue to employ the large numbers of local people who depend on those jobs. With the extra visitors around I have made it a habit to wear a mask whenever I am inside where there are people not in my bubble, and I continue to social distance where possible and wash my hands.
And yet we are all concerned at the rising numbers of Covid cases and the impact another lock down would have on our economy and our mental health. It is extremely unfortunate that our population under the age of 40 does not understand the seriousness of this virus. This group is used to socializing in larger numbers with many people who are not close friends but are part of a larger collective that meet at bars and other social gathering places as part of their normal lifestyle. I think we all can understand the difficulty in changing these patterns but it is extremely important to the health of our entire community that everyone make an effort to social distance and follow all the health guidelines.
The Legislature completed a six week hybrid sitting on Aug 14th with the Premiers Estimates which is really an opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition to question the Premier directly on issues of concern to all British Columbians. There are always lots of questions and traditionally not a lot of answers, this year was no different. Topics such as an Economic Recovery Plan ( which other Provinces have but BC doesn’t) , the escalating OPIOD crisis, the warehousing of the homeless in motels without supports that is destroying the surrounding Businesses, the costs of strata and ICBC insurance, and the uncertainty of just what School is going to look like for the fall, just to name a few.
I have a daughter who is trying to work and yet has two young children who need an education also. How do parents hold down a job when they have no idea of whether there will be only one day, or two days,or five days a week, that kids will be in School. The Minister of Education is now leaving all the decisions up to each individual School District to come up with a plan, and I am sure no two districts will be the same. The BC Government continues to hide behind Dr. Henry to make all the decisions as it relates to every aspect of our economic recovery while in every other Province the elected government is taking responsibility and putting out concrete plans to move forward to reboot their economies. And Daycare is still an issue for many parents trying to get back to work. It will be a difficult and uncertain September, not just for the parents but also for our hard working School Trustees, Teachers, School District Staff and all the people who work inside our school system. Please be patient.
Another aspect of concern for this Riding is staffing our Ski Resorts this winter. Big White normally hires 1200 workers for the season, many who normally come from Australia and New Zealand and with the resurgence of Covid 19 “down under” this is another very serious economic issue facing our Communities. Apex and Mt Baldy as well as numerous other Ski Hills around our Province are also caught in this situation – where are the employees going to come from this winter?
Over the next few weeks I will be on the road in my Riding trying to catch up with Communities on issues that have had to take a back seat to Covid for the last 6 months. UBCM is traditionally held the last two weeks in Sept but like most organizations the Executive will be working on plans to help Municipal and Regional Governments connect to the Ministries with their concerns. It will be virtual and unfortunately will not have the same success rate on resolving issues as meeting face to face has done in the past. We will all make the best of it.
My Office is open to the Public, Tues, Wed and Thursday from 10-2. If you cannot connect with us during that time please phone 250-498-5122 and we will return your call and arrange a face to face meeting if necessary.