Thursday, November 10, 2016

You are invited - Saturday Nov. 26!


Dear Friends,

It is my privilege to invite you and your family to: I Watersheds, 5:30pm-9:00pm on Saturday November 26 at the Cordova Bay United Church, 813 Claremont Ave.

This is an evening to: Celebrate those who restore and protect our precious watersheds!
Highlights to expect:
  • Working watershed models;
  • More than a dozen local non-profit exhibitors;
  • A “locavore” dinner (we are sourcing fresh food ingredients from close by);
  • Live music (recording artists and prohibition-era Jazz band, the Capital Syncopators);
  • Fun and educational activities for children (the event is designed to be for all ages);
  • A photo-booth; and
  • A celebratory certificate presentation for volunteer community leaders.  
Tickets are only $10. Seating is limited: please contact my office at your earliest convenience to reserve your place (if you have not done so already). Tickets can be picked-up Mon-Thurs, 9:30am-2:00pm at the Constituency Office, 4085 Quadra St.

The event is sponsored by my Constituency Office as well as the Peninsula Streams Society, Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society and the Cordova Bay United Church. With special thanks to the Capital Regional District and the District of Saanich. Warm Regards,
MLA Lana Popham
Warm regards, Lana

Lana Popham
Member of the BC Legislative Assembly for Saanich South
P: 250.479.4154 | | F: 250.479.4176  |  4085 Quadra, Victoria BC V8X 1K5
lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca  | facebook  |  saanichsouth.ca






Click here for the facebook event page.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Community Gaming Grants Simplified

Dear Friends,

Along with my colleagues MLAs Rob Fleming and Carole James, I am hosting a free seminar on how to access funding from BC's Community Gaming Grant programme.

The event takes place this Friday, October 21, from 2:30pm-4:30pm at the Burnside Gorge Community Centre (471 Cecelia Road).

The seminar will be given by David Sheach, Executive Director of the BC Association of Charitable Gaming. Also helping to organize this event is CharityWorks, the Capital Region Charitable Gaming Association.

The purpose of this event is to assist the many eligible non-profit groups on the south Island. Gaming grants are available to "non-profit organizations which provide programs or services of direct benefit to the broader community." Grant funds can be used to cover operational costs such as wages, utility costs or facility rentals. They can also be used for other purposes such as to rent or purchase equipment required for delivering the program or service.

This seminar will be of value to anyone active in a non-profit organization who wants to learn more about how to best access Community Gaming Grants. Please feel free to share this announcement with your own contacts.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to admin@charityworks.ca.

Warm Regards,

Lana

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

Monday, October 17, 2016

Diesel spill in Bella Bella

For Immediate Release
Oct. 17, 2016

Statement from B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan
Clark government fails to demand and deliver “world-class” oil spill response for B.C. coast
 ​

VICTORIA— New Democrat leader John Horgan issued the following statement on the grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart and associated fuel spill:

“The Nathan E. Stewart tugboat disaster proves that our oil-spill response capacity is woefully inadequate. B.C. needs better spill response capacity, whether the federal government tries to push new pipelines through B.C. or not.

"Christy Clark could have demanded better spill response on our coast from Ottawa years ago. She could have run a B.C.-led environmental review on Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, but instead she accepted the flawed Harper government process, refusing to use the leverage she had to protect our coast until she was ordered to do an environmental review by the courts.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Saanich News: Communities struggle to deal with affordable housing crisis

OPINION - MLA Report 
by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, October 12 2016
In the last few months I have spoken to hundreds of people about their ambitions and concerns. One issue that keeps coming up with increasing urgency is the cost of living – the affordability crisis.
MSP premiums, big increases in BC Hydro and ICBC rates, new costs for supplies for children at school – the list goes on and on. Nowhere is this crisis worse than when it comes to finding and keeping a decent place to live.
Constituents reach out to my office almost every day asking me urgently to help them find affordable housing.
So it is no surprise that the just-released 2016 Vital Signs report by the Victoria Foundation cited housing and homelessness as the most important issue to residents in the Capital Region. Cost of living was the top issue last year.
The lack of affordable housing affects people of all ages. Approximately 20 per cent of seniors are renters and many more live on a fixed income. The cost of living and housing is not fixed, however, creating a vise of poverty for too many elderly people. It is a vise that tightens as they age and become more vulnerable. It is also a crisis for young people. Up to 10,000 UVic students need housing with the start of each school year and face a market that has a vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent. That is the lowest rate in the country.
The situation is extremely dire for low-income people of all ages. People working full time at B.C.’s poverty-level minimum wage ($10.85 an hour) would need to spend half of their total income just to pay the rent for an average-priced bachelor apartment, if they were lucky enough to find one. If you are unable to work and trying to make do with social assistance the situation becomes close to impossible. It is as unsurprising as it is unacceptable that we saw a tent city rise this summer in the province’s capital.
It is important to remember three points.
First, this is a long-standing social challenge happening in large part because the provincial government has failed to advance solutions despite holding the reins of power for more than 15 years. Until very recently they even denied there was a problem at all.
Second, [BC Liberal government housing] promises are predicated on revenue from taxing the housing bubble. But this revenue is unreliable. This unexpected windfall is also being used to “balance” the budget and cover other promises as we enter the “silly season” of politics. British Columbia estimates it will bring in  $2.2 billion this year from taxes on the sale of property. This housing tax revenue would generate more than the revenue from forestry, mining and energy combined. If -- or more likely when -- this bubble collapses, the government’s house-of-cards budget will come tumbling down with it.
Third, now that we are in the final lap of this government’s term we would be naïve to take their recent housing funding promises at face value. Believing they will fulfil their promises to build housing is like believing their promises at this time four years ago that liquefied natural gas was a pot of gold that would provide billions of dollars in tax revenue and make B.C. debt free. (Reality check: B.C.’s debt is higher than ever at $66 billion and their grandiose LNG promises have evaporated into thin air.)
The B.C. Liberal government finally clued in to the extent of the problem this summer. They responded by rushing through slapdash and inadequate legislation in a very short ‘emergency’ summer session. (They then cancelled the traditional fall session when we could have thoughtfully debated this matter.)
The Official Opposition has been demanding action on this issue for years and has put out many thoughtful and well-researched strategies to address it.
For example, in terms of addressing skyrocketing housing prices, we have proposed measures to close the loopholes used by property speculators, advanced the view that those who come to this province to live and work should not be faced with a punitive tax when they buy a home, and proposed increasing that tax on property purchasers who don’t pay income tax in the province.
The Official Opposition also continues to reach out widely to hear the views of experts and B.C. residents as to what should be done. For example, yesterday my MLA colleagues David Eby, Rob Fleming, Carole James and I held a town hall on this subject: we brought housing experts Marika Albert and Jake Fry to Saanich for a public forum to discuss the problem and the solutions with our community.
Affordability including affordable housing is profoundly important to our shared quality of life. I will continue to work on this file and I welcome your feedback.
Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Seniors & Medical Cannabis

MLA Lana Popham invites you to:
Seniors and Medical Cannabis
Does medical cannabis have proven medical benefits for seniors? If so when should it be considered? How should it be used? Is it even legal? Find out the answers to these questions and pose your own. 

When: 3:30pm-5:00pm, Friday October 14th 2016
Where: Douglas Fir Room, Saanich Commonwealth Place, 4636 Elk Lake Dr.

With Guest speaker: Dr. Rob Sealey, MD

Dr. Sealey is one of Canada’s top practicing medical experts on the use of Medical Cannabis. He is also a Physician with a full-service family practice in Victoria.

Dr. Sealey is an active member of Physicians for Medicinal Cannabis, the International Cannabinoid Research Society and the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine. He has been involved in both clinical and research aspects of Medical Cannabis since 2001. Dr. Sealey frequently gives talks across North America to his MD peers and the general public on best practices for the clinical use of Medical Cannabis.

The event is one in a series of free informational sessions and community gatherings organized by the Community Office of MLA Lana Popham. Previous topics include: climate change, traffic safety, wild salmon, public access to the Saanich Observatory, promoting cultural knowledge with the Royal BC Museum, commemorating the Komagata Maru, benefits of buying local, food security, smart urban growth and improving fairness in taxation.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Housing {un}affordability


Are you concerned about the un-affordability of housing in our community?

Let's build momentum to tackle this problem!

Join me and other local MLAs for a Community Town Hall! October 11, 6:30-8:00pm at Reynolds School (3963 Borden Rd.). We'll have a panel discussion and an open Q&A. (And snacks too!)

I'm very pleased to share that the panel will include MLA David Eby and housing expert Marika Albert. (Other panellists to be announced.)

On the agenda are the challenges and opportunities we face when it comes to the cost of housing on the south Island.

MLA Eby is the Spokesperson for Housing for the Opposition New Democrats in the BC Legislature. He is very knowledgeable and articulate about these issues and has a lot to say about how we could improve the situation.

Ms. Albert is the Executive Director of the Community Social Planning Council. She has done extensive research on housing affordability and was formerly a Research Analyst at BC Stats and a research Associate for the McCreary Centre Society.

Hope to see you there!

Lana

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Premier Clark breaks election promise, reduces youth drug treatment beds

Despite Premier Christy Clark’s assurances that ‘good progress’ is being made helping British Columbians with substance abuse issues, New Democrats have revealed that treatment spaces for youth fell by 25 per cent in the last two years, said New Democrat Leader John Horgan.

“The premier said the right things when she promised 500 new addiction treatment spaces in the 2013 election campaign, but now we know that not only has she missed her own deadline, but she has actually reduced addiction treatment spaces for youth over the past three years while the overdose epidemic was growing,” said Horgan.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Premier Clark failing to address escalating fentanyl crisis

Fentanyl overdoses are projected to claim a record number of lives in British Columbia this year, but the BC Liberal government has failed to provide adequate, accessible pathways to treatment for people and families desperately seeking mental health and addiction services, said New Democrat leader John Horgan.

“We’ve been watching this deadly spike in fentanyl use and fatal overdoses since 2013, yet addiction services and access to treatment beds have not kept pace with the crisis,” Horgan said. “Where has the Clark government been for the past two years? Why is our provincial government unable to meet the needs of people and families desperate to find help when it comes to opioid addiction?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Peter Gary - May his memory continue to inspire

Dr. Peter Gary,  2006.
Screenshot from "Glimpses of Heaven",
a documentary by Michael Dayan.
Source: www.michaeldayan.com

Dear Friends,

As the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Saanich South, I would like to acknowledge with sadness the death of Dr. Peter Gary. There are many people mourning today and I wish them comfort at this most difficult time. Special condolences to his widow, Ms Judy Esrin, his son and the many others who loved him deeply.

Dr. Gary lived a remarkable life in his 93 years. As an adult he worked as a musician and composer. His extraordinary talent led him to be accepted for studies at the same academy attended by Bartok and Kodaly. He had a Ph.D in Musicology from the Sorbonne and conducted orchestras in France and Germany. He also worked in the film industry in Hollywood, and as what we would today call a Music Therapist. He taught at the University of California and at UVIC. 

Many of us know of Dr. Gary because of what he experienced before this illustrious career. He was born in Poland 1924 and was raised in Hungary. Showing great promise in music, Dr. Gary began studying piano at the age of 5. 

By the mid 1930s, however, his life and that of so many others, was ripped apart as anti-Semitism worsened horribly in Europe with the rise of Nazism in Germany. 

On Christmas Eve, 1941, when he was 17, he and his mother and many other Jews were taken at gun-point to a ravine where they were stripped, lined up and machine-gunned. Dr. Gary's mother was immediately hit and soon died. She saved his life by falling on top of him. In the end he was one of only four people who escaped the ravine alive. He made it to the Warsaw Ghetto but was eventually captured and spent years of horror and terror in three different Nazi death camps. When he was finally liberated by the British he was 21 years old and weighed less than 76 pounds.

We know these personal and shocking details of his life because Dr. Gary shared them with us. He was dedicated to remembering the Holocaust. In fact, Dr. Gary helped found the Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society. Over the years he spoke to more than 60,000 people -- mostly young people -- about his experiences and what he learned from them. He taught people to learn from the mistakes of the past and to embrace -- not fear or hate -- people who are different. We owe Dr. Gary a great moral debt for his willingness to share his experiences with our young people. I also want to recognise that he inspired many by showing that it is possible to regain feelings of joy and hope even after the most painful and cruel experiences imaginable.


Dr. Gary was very well known in this Constituency and around the world because of his enthusiasm, passion and warmth. He will be greatly missed but the impact of his good work will last for generations to come. May his memory continue to inspire us all.

MLA Lana Popham

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Saanich News: Local office promotes local artists

OPINION/MLA Report by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, September 14 2016

Saanich is home to many talented artists, both famous and little-known. Their work creates meaning and joy in our lives. They are part of the larger Arts and Culture sector in B.C., which is a major economic engine, responsible for approximately three per cent of the province’s gross domestic product.

From a political perspective, I must point out that the current B.C. government ranks dead last among all provinces when it comes to supporting the arts. We can do better than that!

However, I am proud to say that British Columbians rank at the top or near the top among provinces when it comes to attending and volunteering for arts and cultural events and donating to arts and cultural organizations.

I see this love of arts and culture very clearly among the people in the constituency of Saanich South. That is why over the last seven years I have opened up my community office to showcase the art of more than a dozen individuals who live in this constituency.

This includes the folk-art of Dennis Jacques, the metal monotypes of Jenn Whitford-Robins and acrylic impressionistic paintings by Peter Van Giesen.

Showcasing sculptures, books and pottery was made possible this year by the generous help of Saanich resident Pat Brown, who constructed plinths and shelving. This has enabled us to display three-dimensional art such as the sculptures of Illarion Gallant and the pottery of the Nancy Alexander.

At the moment my office is presenting the artwork of Dr. Kris Tangri. I met Dr. Tangri at his home this summer while door-knocking and by chance learned about his interesting life as a scientist and artist. Dr. Tangri has worked and travelled in more than 40 countries. His art reflects this broad experience and depicts warm expanses, bright colours and engaging textures and patterns. It has been shown in galleries and private collections everywhere from Bombay and Barcelona to New York and Vancouver.

I’m very pleased he has agreed to show it in Saanich. The art can be viewed at my community office, 4085 Quadra St., during regular hours, Monday to Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Next Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., there will be a special showing with the artist in attendance. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

It is a privilege to use my community office to share with you all the artwork of residents who live in this constituency. I am always looking for artists to showcase in the future and encourage anyone who lives in the constituency and would like the opportunity to contact my office at 250-479-4154.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/opinion/393288961.html

 Postscript:

I would like to thank and acknowledge the following artists who have shared their art with the community at the Saanich South Constituency Office over the last seven years.

  • Dennis Jaques, 2010
  • Elizabeth Caulton, 2011
  • Marti Mussell, 2012
  • Jenn Whitford-Robins, 2012
  • Jan Dong, 2013
  • Margo Cooper, 2013
  • Sandra Levy, 2013
  • Peter Van Giesen, 2014
  • Marcia Perkins, 2014
  • Ilarion Gallant, 2015
  • Twyla Rusnak, 2015
  • Nancy Alexander, 2016
  • Kris Tangri, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Eid Saeed!

To all my Muslim friends and constituents:
May every year bring you good health! May you enjoy and celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha! I wish you and your family the very best in the spirit of kindness and friendship. Eid Mubarak!
I would also like to share a message from my friend and colleague, Opposition Leader MLA John Horgan:
“On behalf of the New Democrat caucus, we extend our whole-hearted and warmest greetings to the Muslim community as another Eid al-Adha celebration approaches. All British Columbians who practice the Islamic faith look forward to this holy occasion, and we wish all who celebrate a most wonderful Eid Mubarak.,”
Warm regards,
Lana
MLA Popham

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Saanich News: Action needed to preserve Saanich lakes

OPINION/MLA Report: by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, August 17 2016


Did you know that Elk and Beaver lakes are dying?

The danger is already evident: blooms of noxious cyanobacteria are now common. The resulting algae is poisonous to humans. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in recent years the lakes have been regularly closed to swimmers because of high levels of toxins. This water can make people very sick and is potentially lethal for dogs. In fact, a water advisory by the Capital Regional District has been in place for weeks warning the public not to swim in Beaver Lake. The health of fish and other organisms in the lake is decreasing and harmful aquatic weeds are spreading rapidly.

If we don’t act, the lakes will eventually become a slimy, weed-infested swamp unfit for human contact.

Elk and Beaver lakes, as we know them today, were created in the 1870s by the construction of a dam in order to provide drinking water to Victoria. The nutrient-rich marsh land which was flooded in the process, as well as pollution in the years that followed, has led to a severe excess of phosphorous in the water. Although the pollution has mostly stopped, there is now enough phosphorous concentrated in the lakes to eventually choke out almost all life.

And yet right now this is the most popular natural place in the region. I don’t need to convince you how wonderful this spot is. Every year hundreds of thousands of us visit these lakes and the surrounding regional park. The lakes are used extensively by swimmers, rowers and fishers. Many of us also love to relax on the beach, picnic in the park or attend events like Saanich’s annual Strawberry Festival. Other popular activities include wind-surfing, canoeing, radio yacht racing, water-skiing and sailing. The surrounding trails are also used by walkers, runners, cyclists and horse-riders.

We all share a responsibility to protect these lakes for our children and future generations.

I am pleased to write that excellent work is already underway. As the MLA for Saanich South, I want to publicly acknowledge the remarkable contributions made by members of the Victoria Golden Rods and Reels Fishing and Social Club, Peninsula Streams Society and the Colquitz Coalition, the Environmental Law Centre at UVic, the BC Lake Stewardship Society and the rowing community. Special mention is needed for the herculean efforts made by Mick Collins, Robert McConnell, Rick Nordin. Thank you all. You have our enduring gratitude.

The CRD is also strengthening their efforts to address this issue. They’ve hired a project co-ordinator and are working intensively to develop an action plan in the next year. Options under consideration at this early stage include: adding a binding agent to capture the phosphorous, aeration and/or dredging. The CRD has also recently purchased a weed harvester to manage the aquatic vegetation.

Can the lakes be saved? Yes. The question now under intense study is how that can best be accomplished. Excellent background information is available at colquitzcoalition.com. I am confident we will have remediation options to consider by mid 2017.

I look forward to working with community groups and all levels of government to make sure appropriate actions are taken in a timely, cost-effective and efficient manner. The public expects and deserves no less than that.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/opinion/390237351.html

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer Star Parties!

What happens at a Star Party? 

My favourite part is that super-keen and knowledgeable volunteers with the Royal Astronomical Society set up their telescopes and share the stars with you. 


On most nights there are also tours of the awesome Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. 


There are also Astronomy lectures and presentations and displays from the Centre of the Universe. 


Some nights there is even music! 


And thanks to the hard work of volunteers with the Royal Astronomical Society and the great folks at the National Research Council, it is free! 


Tickets are limited and are reserved well in advance so you need to be on the ball to go!


Tickets are available for reservation eight days before the event, starting at 1pm on Fridays. They seem to be all snapped up within a few days. (The August 6th date is already sold out) But there are two more opportunities, the 13th and 20th. 


Tickets for August 13 are available starting at 1pm on August 5.

Tickets for August 20 are available starting at 1pm on August 12.

Click here for more information and to reserve tickets.

A huge THANK YOU to the many RASC-Victoria volunteers and the National Research Council for sharing with us the wonder and science of the cosmos!


Hope to see you there!!! -Lana


PS. These events are very close to my heart as I worked all out to restore public access to the Saanich Observatory in 2013 and 2014. More info on that is here: http://saanichobservatory.blogspot.ca

Saanich News: Reaching out to constituents on the doorstep

OPINION/MLA Report: by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, July 31 2016

Over the last two months I’ve devoted a significant amount of my time to one of my favourite jobs as an MLA – reaching out to constituents.

Armed with newsletters and aided by many dedicated volunteers, my team and I have been door knocking all over Saanich South. Door knocking is something that I love doing throughout my term as MLA and particularly in the summer (the Legislature isn’t usually in session and as a result I have more time to spend in my constituency).

Many people ask me what the goal of an outreach project like this is. The answer is simple: it’s about connecting with people and hearing what issues matter most to them.

For this outreach project my office created a survey about provincial affairs – such as affordable housing and climate change – in order to gain insight about the most pressing issues for residents.

There were variations among neighbourhoods. For example, in Glanford, 90 per cent of the people we spoke with identified weaknesses in public education as a top concern. In Cordova Bay, 79 per cent of people raised issues with our health care system as what most requires action, and in Broadmead improving food security was cited by 86 per cent as a key issue they wanted improved.

We knocked on over 3,500 doors and spoke to hundreds of people. I am so pleased to share with you all that there was a recurring theme holding together almost every opinion and perspective we heard: the importance of our shared well-being. Issues such as climate change and housing unaffordability came up over and over again and in every corner of the constituency. People want change that improves our shared quality of life.

One final thought: although I’ve talked to lots of you already and I plan to do more door-knocking in August, I know many of you will be away or unable to chat when I arrive unannounced. So feel free to contact me with any feedback you may have whatsoever. I set my priorities by what I hear from constituents. You could even answer our survey over the phone if you like. My number is 250-479-4154 and my office is at 4085 Quadra St., just north of McKenzie Avenue. My website is www.saanichsouth.ca. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/opinion/388705481.html

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Saanich News: A commitment to agriculture

OPINION/MLA Report: by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, July 20 2016

If you want to prepare a delicious meal you are well advised to consult a cookbook. I was reminded of this common sense recently when reviewing plans put out by the Ministry of Agriculture.

I’ve watched with great frustration over the past eight years as the Ministry of Agriculture has become a shell of what it once was. Many involved in agriculture agree that core ingredients are missing.

There used to be a Legislative Standing Committee for Agriculture that worked in a non-partisan way with farmers and experts across the province to generate new ideas and strong policy. The B.C. Liberals axed that back in 2001. I’ve been calling for it to be reinstated since I was first elected in 2009 but the current government prefers to listen to itself.

In response I created my own non-partisan Committee for Agriculture made up of six MLAs, including an independent legislator. We’ve travelled throughout B.C. holding public meetings, with more meetings planned for the future. We’ve listened carefully to hundreds of good ideas. We released our first report last year and are working on another for release before the end of this year. (Visit www.bcagcom.ca for more information.)

The most important part of any long-term food security plan is to protect the land which is best for crops and livestock. Regrettably, the most impactful thing done by the current government with respect to farming is to pass a law which severely compromised the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). They followed that up by firing the chair of the Agricultural Land Commission who had an extensive background in farming and a demonstrated commitment to strengthening agriculture in the province.

Recently the largest exclusion of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve in B.C.’s history was done in contravention of the law and in secrecy with zero public debate. In the push to create the Site C dam, more than 4,000 hectares of farmland was removed from the ALR by the stroke of a pen. This land is among the most fertile and potentially productive farmland in B,C. It could feed one million people in perpetuity. The government intends to flood it, destroying its agricultural potential forever.

Another indispensable part of an agricultural plan is having policies to promote farming. I am calling for a provincial procurement policy that would increase the amount of B.C. food purchased by B.C. public institutions. For example, if we created a policy that required just a fraction of food purchased for B.C. hospitals and long-term care facilities to be grown and processed in B.C. we would create a stable domestic agricultural economy and ensure B.C. has more food security in times of crisis. This single change would be the largest shift in agricultural policy in B.C. since the ALR was established. The money we would use is money we are already spending. In the Lower Mainland we spend $50 million on hospital meals alone. This change would have a massive multiplier effect, incenting food production and processing all over the province.

This type of policy is being used in other jurisdictions and it’s successful. Why do we not have that type of progressive policy in B.C.? The minister of agriculture doesn’t support it: he argues we shouldn’t dictate purchasing policy to hospitals. The public shouldn’t direct public institutions through policy? That makes no sense. Our tax dollars are currently spent to purchase out-of-province and out-of-county food products. Why would we not keep some of that in our province?

We are not going to strengthen agriculture in B.C. if we don’t restore the Ministry of Agriculture to a place of importance in the B.C. government. We need a commitment to long-term strategies that are resilient to global challenges like climate change and international instability. We can protect farmland, strengthen farming and ensure a local food supply, we just need the right recipe.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/community/387343681.html

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer Update

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

I’m writing to update you about my work as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Saanich South.

My volunteer team and I have knocked on more than 3,000 doors in the last six weeks. I’ve done this kind of community outreach every summer since first being elected. I love it! By the end of the summer I will have worn out a couple pairs of shoes but I will also have a deep understanding of what is going on in the constituency and where people want me to put my energy.

In addition to my regular MLA work, I’ve also taken on a bi-weekly column in the Saanich News. Here are links to the articles I’ve written so far:
I know there are many fun activities happening this summer but I can't resist giving a plug for one: Summer Star Parties at the Saanich Observatory! (These events are very close to my heart as I worked all out to restore public access to the Saanich Observatory in 2013 and 2014.) What happens at a Star Party? My favourite part is that super-keen and knowledgeable volunteers with the Royal Astronomical Society set up their telescopes and share the stars with you. On most nights there are also tours of the awesome Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO). There are also Astronomy lectures and presentations and displays at the Centre of the Universe. Some nights there is even music! And thanks to the hard work of many volunteers and the great folks at the National Research Council, it is free! But tickets are limited and sell out well in advance so you need to be on the ball to go. Tickets are available for free reservation one week before the event. So this Friday (tomorrow) tickets will be available for the next Star Party, on July 23rd. There are parties on July 30th and August 6th, 13th and 20th. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets.

In addition to my work in the constituency I am also very active in my duties as the Official Opposition Spokesperson for Agriculture and Food. Here are three examples.
1. As one of the leaders in the effort to stop Site C, last weekend I travelled to the Peace River to speak at a large rally of local farmers, residents, indigenous people and environmentalists.  If it isn’t stopped, this unneeded BC Liberal project will cost taxpayers at least eight billion dollars (expect the planned 28% rate increase to your BC Hydro bill to continue or increase if Site C goes forward); it will also permanently destroy more than 4000 hectares of BC’s best farmland, land that could feed a million people. The First Nations in the area are also strongly against the project and they are challenging it in court. (More information on perspective on Site C is available here.)
 
2. I continue to Chair the Opposition Standing Committee for Agriculture and Food. We’ve held six public meetings across the province, most recently in Cranbrook and Kelowna. This non-partisan Committee of six MLAs has heard from dozens of farmers and food-industry people across BC to gather the best ideas on how agricultural production can be increased and made more sustainable. We already tabled one report in the Legislature and will do another one before the end of the year. (Visit www.bcagcom.ca for more information.)

3. A few years ago I was working throughout the Cariboo and started to hear about a crazy situation. A UK based corporation was purchasing ALR land and using it to “green wash” their company by planting trees on farmland. This doesn’t sound so bad until you realize what was actually going on.

Planting trees really meant putting barbed wire fences up around hundreds of hectares to keep the community out, putting “no trespassing” signs up at entrance gates, taking down infrastructure to reduce property taxes, installing video surveillance equipment on trees, cutting rows and rows of huge trenches into beautiful ranch and range land making it dangerous for livestock and wildlife and destroying it for future farming, spraying herbicides from the air to control weeds for the newly planted trees with no regards for neighbouring farms that had livestock like sheep, failing to address natural fuel (grass) building up in the fields that are known to be forest fire hazards, etc., etc., etc.

I met with residents from Quesnel to Vanderhoof on this issue. I held two public meeting where residents could tell their stories. I arranged for the Standing Committee for Agriculture and Food to be in Williams Lake so residents had an opportunity to present their story to more MLAs. I brought the issue into the legislature in Question period and during any debates. So what happened?

First, BC Liberal Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick denied there was a problem. He mocked my calls for immediate action and downplayed the extent of the problem by thousands of hectares. Finally, the numbers of hectares became undeniably apparent and he had to admit there was a serious problem but he again mocked my calls for changes in legislation to control the problem and said the Agricultural Land Commission had the tools they needed to address the situation.

At this point public awareness on the issue had grown to the point where the UK company had to come to BC to try and control the bad publicity. They met with local officials and tried to come to a truce.

Minister Letnick claimed he met with this corporation and they “promised” not to continue this practice. The minister basically allowed a foreign corporation to decide our BC land use policy with a lick and a promise……that was good enough for the Minister.

I’ve been told recently that the tree planting activity is continuing regardless. I haven’t done any site visits myself but I will be travelling into the Cariboo again soon to verify this information as soon as possible.

Last week the BC Liberal government very quietly noted they would change regulations so that the ALC would have a new tool to possibly control a situation like this.

Let’s review the actions over a couple of years from the Minister of Agriculture shall we?
1. He denied there was a problem for months and months.
2. He down-played the situation and officially mocked my concern in the legislative chamber.
3. Next he became informed and expressed ‘shock’ at the extent of the problem.
4. He pushed back and said the Agricultural Land Commission had the tools to deal with the problem so don’t worry about it.
5. Next he met with, and allowed a foreign corporation to decide ALR land use policy.
6. Yesterday, he finally made a half-step to address the problem by giving the ALC a tool they can use to try and control this from happening again.

There is no reason to believe the BC government is serious about addressing this problem or that the change introduced this week will be an effective deterrent. This government has demonstrated over and over again that it will cash out the long-term value of the Agricultural Land Reserve for its own short-term political advantage. Background on this issue is available here.

Thanks for reading! To find out more about my work please visit my website, www.saanichsouth.ca. I’m also active on facebook and Instagram.

As always, if you require assistance with matters related to the provincial government please contact me. I’m here when you need me.

Lana

Lana Popham
Member of the BC Legislative Assembly for Saanich South
P: 250.479.4154 | | F: 250.479.4176  |  4085 Quadra, Victoria BC V8X 1K5
lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca  | facebook  |  saanichsouth.ca

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Saanich News: More must be done for struggling British Columbians

OPINION
Reprinted from the Saanich News, July 5 2016


Are you earning a low wage? Or living on a fixed income? Are you unable to work or unable to find a decent paying job? Are you struggling to get by or take care of your children and aged parents, or both at the same time?

If so I have a message for you: I’m your ally. I’m fighting for you.

As the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Saanich South, I hear from people almost every day who say the “game” is rigged against them. And in many ways it is. According to the Broadbent Institute, B.C. has the highest rate of wealth inequality in Canada. And it’s growing.

People who are struggling to take care of their most basic needs are suffering more and more.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Saanich News: Diversity of Maltby Lake is worth protecting

Gillian Harvey, left, Carmel Thomson, Patrick Brown
and MLA Lana Popham stand outside the B.C.
Supreme Court in February 2015.

Image Credit: Jane Brown Photo
OPINION
Reprinted from the Saanich News, June 21 2016

This week, I’m excited to introduce you to one of Saanich’s hidden gems: Maltby Lake.

Few are aware of this extraordinary place even though it’s in the heart of Saanich and just 10 kilometers from downtown Victoria. There is no place closer to the provincial capital that surpasses Maltby Lake in terms of ecological value or wild beauty.

Freshwater jellyfish and sponges have existed in the lake for thousands of years and the area is home to painted turtles, horned owls, beavers and many other local and even endangered species.

Not only is Maltby Lake phenomenally diverse but it also plays an important role in our regional waterway. The lake itself is filled with drinkable water continually recharged by multiple underground springs and it is at the headwaters of the Tod Creek Watershed – the second largest watershed in Saanich.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Constituency Report - Cooking Show!

Hi all,

For my Spring 2016 Constituency Report I decided to do something a little different... and more fun! Hope you like it. :) - Lana



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Saanich News: Risk of real estate bubble

OPINION
Reprinted from the Saanich News, June 7 2016

In the B.C Legislature, one of the most important obligations of the “official opposition” is to expose the failures of the governing party.
Currently that party is the B.C. Liberals, led by Premier Christy Clark. To be blunt, there are many failures that I could write about, but today I want to focus in on one that has the potential to seriously impact us right here in Saanich: the failure to adequately regulate the real estate market.
In Vancouver, this failure has taken on crisis proportions. Average house prices in the city are increasing more than 20 per cent a year.
Currently a modest detached house in Vancouver routinely sells for well over a million dollars. This is a real estate bubble and it has been created and is being perpetuated in part by a lack of regulations in the real estate industry and, in particular, a lack of control on foreign cash pouring into the market
The negative consequences are very significant. Real estate bubbles can burst and create devastating economic consequences that reverberate throughout the economy. And even if that worst-case scenario doesn’t happen there are many other harms to consider: property taxes increased to match the speculative value; dangerously high debt loads for new homebuyers; and young adults or those of modest means being completely priced out of the market.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Saanich News: Island residents need better access to family doctors

OPINION
Reprinted from the Saanich News, May 24 2016

This week I’d like to talk about an issue that affects us all: the lack of access to family doctors.
A family doctor is one of the best tools at your disposal when caring for the health of you and your loved ones. Regular check-ups performed by a general practitioner can catch many problems while they are still easily treatable. A family doctor will know both you and your medical history personally; this significant advantage is not available at walk-in clinics. A family doctor is a great first resource should trouble arise. They can refer you to specialists, ensure continuity of care and identify urgent or serious conditions.
And yet there are many people who desperately want and need a family doctor, but cannot find one. Currently there are 57 unfilled permanent family doctor positions available on Vancouver Island alone.
The current provincial government has repeatedly promised to address this problem. And they have repeatedly broken those promises.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bill 24 and the ongoing fight to protect the Agricultural Land Reserve


Dear Friends,

Over the last two weeks I’ve received over a hundred emails from people across the province who are outraged about Bill 24 and demanding that everything possible be done to stop it from becoming law.

I regret to share with you that Bill 24 – a piece of legislation designed by the BC Liberals to weaken the Agricultural Land Commission and gut protections in the Agricultural Land Reserve – was passed into law two years ago.

A 2014 open-letter penned by the indomitable Corky Evans somehow gained a second life last month on the internet and is inspiring a lot of people to write.

I really appreciate the input – the passion shown reminds me how important the ALR is to the people of British Columbia.

Please know that I worked very hard with my colleagues in the Official Opposition, and with farmers and farmer-supporters all over the province to try and stop it.

As the images to the right show, this campaign took on a life of its own under the hashtags #KillBill24 and #Farmers4ALR.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

MLA Lana Popham introduces the BC Local Food Act


Dear Friends, today I stood in the BC Legislature to introduce a Bill named British Columbia Local Food Act, 2016. 

This legislation advances five initiatives that would benefit us all by strengthening the agricultural sector and farming communities throughout BC:

(1) Eliminate the two-tier ALR created by the current government by transferring all ALR areas currently categorized in zone 2 into zone 1 and eliminating the zone 2 designation.

(2) Establish a legislative standing committee on food and agriculture which will have a voice in determining the chair and other members of the Agricultural Land Commission.

(3) Mandate this committee to prepare, in consultation with the Agriculture Minister, a plan to increase local food production, marketing and processing. The plan would set targets and initiate policies to meet those targets, which would be reported annually to the Legislature.

(4) Implement a comprehensive strategy to increase how much local food is purchased by hospitals and other public institutions.

(5) Reintroduce the successful Buy BC program.

The BC Local Food Act defines many of the agricultural priorities and commitments of the Official Opposition. It would also undo a significant amount of the damage done by the current BC government. It would bring the voices of farmers back into the BC legislature, restore the ALR, increase agricultural production, strengthen food security, contribute to climate change goals, and develop a stable market within BC for BC-grown products.

Click here to read the Local Food Act.

Lana Popham
MLA Saanich South

More information on agriculture in BC is available at www.bcagcom.ca.


Saanich News: Saanich MLA still in touch with farming roots

by  Hugo Wong Reprinted from the Saanich News

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saanich News: Education requires renewed investment

Saanich resident Mona Malik with her two daughters
Yashel and Anayah Cheema, who are just beginning 
their public education in the Saanich School District
OPINION
Reprinted from the Saanich News, 10 May 2016.

Do you agree that all young British Columbians should have access to an excellent education?
I’m a parent with a child who is graduating high school next month after 12 years in the public education system. To be honest, “excellent” is not a word I can use to describe the totality of his experience, nor that of his peers.
And the statistics bear out that observation.
B.C. has dropped from the second-best funded education system in Canada to the second-worst. This has led to more kids crammed into the classroom. That makes it harder for teachers to teach and allows for very little individual attention. This year alone there was a 25 per cent increase in the number of classes with more than 30 students. Since 2002, B.C. has lost the equivalent of 3,500 full-time teachers.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Summer Star Parties are back!!!

Dear Saanich South,

I'm very excited to share the news that "Summer Star Parties" are back at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. All the details are on the poster below. These free events will "sell out" so be sure to reserve your tickets beforehand. They are available for reservation one week before the party date. -L.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Saanich News: It’s time for dialogue on assisted dying

OPINION
Reprinted from the Saanich News, April 26 2016

In this column I would like to write about a difficult and intimate subject of personal relevance to all of us: physician assisted dying.
This is a federal matter in part because helping someone commit suicide is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. But it is also a challenge that B.C. MLAs must address: medical care – up to and including our last breath – is a provincial responsibility.
And this is an issue that is especially important to us in Saanich. Approximately 10 per cent of Saanich residents are over 75 years old compared to an average of six per cent in the rest of B.C. and Canada. And in the next decade more than 45 per cent of the population of Saanich will be age 60 or older.