Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Saanich South Seed Bank and Exchange

Join me as I launch the opening of of my new seedbank in our community office!

BC has an active community of organic vegetable seed growers, small-scale seed companies, and seed libraries - all of which contribute to maintaining genetic diversity for BC agriculture. Chris Thoreau of FarmFolk CityFolk will present an overview of seed production in BC and explores the potential of a thriving organic seed sector for BC.

You are welcome to bring a package of seeds to exchange for another.

Hope to see(d) you there!


Monday, October 1, 2018

Monthly Micro-Actions: Think At the Sink

*MLA’s note* I’m so happy to introduce Laska Paré! Laska is one of our amazing constituents in Saanich South, and is also a monthly guest blogger on my website! She writes about tips on small changes we can make in our day-to-day lives to encourage us to live more sustainably. Read on below to find out more! -Lana  

As much as we’d like to believe our sinks are bottomless monster mouths; hungry to eat up anything and everything we feed them, they’re not and shouldn’t be used that way. The more food, fats, oils, grease and household hazardous waste we put down the drain or through the garbage disposal, the more impact they will have on our sewer lines, wastewater treatment systems, not to mention create environmental and public health hazards.


Maybe you’re reading this as you plunge your drain filled with last night’s spaghetti.. And there you stand, Drano in hand, ready to treat the buildup. STOP NOW and KEEP READING.


Did you know the active ingredient in Drano and other conventional drain cleaners is sodium hydroxide, otherwise known as caustic soda or lye? While the substance is not considered a pollutant, sodium hydroxide is an irritant that can burn skin and aggravate the nose, throat and respiratory airways[1].


A better option to putting chemicals down the drain would be to use a plunger, a drain snake (made from an old wire hanger) or a handful of baking soda mixed with a half cup of vinegar followed with boiling water, this typically does the trick!


Fighting the Impossible


Even top of the line strainers won’t stop every coffee ground or apple seed from going down the drain, but we need to do our best. Sinks are not trash cans and weren’t designed for this purpose. Clogged pipes and backed-up sewers are expensive repairs.  It doesn't matter how much hot water or Drano you pour down after it. Sooner or later it solidifies. Metro Vancouver residents spend $2 million every year to repair damage caused by grease. And that's not counting the costs to individual homeowners when their pipes get blocked.[2]


With the new Wastewater Treatment Project currently being built to serve the core municipalities of Saanich, Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, View Royal, Langford and Colwood, and the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, it’s important to start developing good habits NOW so we can keep the operations and maintenance costs low.


Micro-Actions For October


We all need to do our part to help keep the wastewater process running smoothly. The next time you’re at you’re sink THINK, and consider how you can apply these suggestions and support a smooth running system:


  • Scrape food residues from plates, pots & pans before washing
  • Never put coffee grounds, eggshells or kitty litter down the drain or toilet
  • Use your garbage disposal sparingly
  • Put fruit & vegetables peels in the ‘organics’ bin
  • Collect excess fats & oils in a jar. Once settled, scoop into organics bin.
  • Dispose of household hazardous waste at the Hartland Landfill, HHW Collection Centre. The materials are then packed into containers and transported to the lower mainland and sent to the appropriate facilities for treatment or disposal.





Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Addressing Homelessness in Saanich

People experiencing homelessness, including those who were living at the Regina Park encampment in Saanich, will have earlier access to safe shelter spaces in Victoria starting in October 2018.
Overnight shelter will be available every night, regardless of whether an extreme weather alert has been issued.

In response to the urgent need for shelter spaces in Saanich and Victoria, the Province has partnered with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre to provide expanded services... to make sure more people have a warm place to stay overnight.

Located at 231 Regina Ave. in Victoria, the 25-bed shelter will be open nightly from 9 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. from Oct. 1, 2018, until March 31, 2019. This is normally an extreme-weather shelter location, but is being opened early due to urgent need. The friendship centre will provide shuttle services from predetermined pick up points, meals, showers and access to laundry facilities on site.
BC Housing is working with other non-profit partners to expedite the opening of other winter shelters as soon as possible.

 Outreach teams will continue to help connect people experiencing homelessness with housing and support services, such as income assistance and mental health services.

Quick Facts:
To help address homelessness in B.C., the Province is partnering with 22 municipalities to build more than 2,000 modular homes with 24/7 support services.

Through the new Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund, an additional 2,500 new supportive homes will be delivered throughout the province. The District of Saanich has been offered funding through this program.

 The Province is currently developing a homelessness action plan informed by the results of the 2018 homeless counts, the comprehensive consultation on the Poverty Reduction Strategy and engagements with experts on homelessness from around British Columbia.

Learn More:

Read Homes for B.C., government’s 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians:

To learn more about the Province’s emergency shelter program, visit:…/homelessness-…/emergency-shelter-program

To see a map of permanent and temporary shelters in B.C., visit:

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

On behalf of my colleague Minister Selina Robinson, I am honored to announce today that affordable rental homes for seniors, adults with disabilities, and families are now under construction in Saanich. Thanks to a partnership between the Government of British Columbia and the Capital Region Housing Corporation.

Westview, located at 3816 Carey Rd, will provide 73 affordable rental homes for people in Saanich and the Capital Regional District. The four-storey building will contain 11 studio apartments, 38 one-bedroom apartments, 20 two-bedroom apartments and four three bedroom apartments.

I’m thrilled to have these homes break ground in Saanich. By investing in more affordable projects like Westview, our government is working hard so people can live and stay in their communities, close to family and where they work. Our government will continue working to fix problems and get results for people, to create a better future for everyone.

I know these homes will enrich the lives of those who live here, and the community for many years to come.

More information:

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Monthly Micro-Actions: No Excuse for Single-Use

Written by: Laska Pare

 According to Zero Waste Canada, coffee is the most common beverage after water for adults.[1] Whether you drink coffee, tea or a Triple-Venti-Half Sweet-Caramel Macchiato, most of it is served in single-use paper cups. We all want quality and crave convenience. But what about saving money, spending less and reducing landfill waste?

Did you know:
  • Disposable paper cups contain 5% polyurethane plastic, making composting and recycling of disposable cups extremely tricky
  • 70% of the world’s paper comes from diminishing forests, not from plantations or recycling
  • Very little recycled paper is used to make disposable cups due to health risk concerns
** “Did you know FACTS provided by ecoffee cup
A huge problem with “to go” is where the coffee cup is travelling and what we do with it when we no longer want it. Recycling across BC is dynamic and site specific, and this can lead to confusion and frustration when you're trying to do the right thing. The average number of steps someone will carry garbage is twelve paces[2]. As much as everyone would like to be an environmental steward, many consumers are unwilling to carry the cup until they find a recycling, composting or disposal options, and providing these options on city streets, in malls, at beaches, and in parks has a cost.
While most communities have “to go” options for take-out, not every community has the options to deal with the discards. But as consumers, it is the decisions we make that will make a difference.

Micro-Actions For September

No. 1: Support local businesses who offer green alternatives. Some local businesses in Greater Victoria offer low-impact, compostable cups.

No. 2: Many municipalities DO accept paper cups in the curbside recycling collection program as containers (not as paper). But it’s rare the discarded cup travels back to the consumer’s home to be placed in the recycling.

No. 3: Get a reusable mug! If we really want to avoid creating waste, we have to make conscious changes in our behaviours. Using a reusable mug is a great start and a micro way you can make a difference. In this video, which aired on Shaw TV earlier this year, I explore the single-use cup issue in Greater Victoria and talk about how you can contribute to a sustainable future.

As consumers, it is us who need to lead the way to reducing and reusing. Now realizing the impact of disposable cups we have to be the ones to create change.


Friday, August 31, 2018

It's the last day of August...

It's the last day of August which for me feels like the last day of Summer. This Summer has definitely had its challenges and it has also had absolute successes. I was incredibly fortunate over the past few months to travel in our province meeting with farmers and producers. Our agriculture sector always makes time to have a chat and to let me know what's going on.

We are now moving into the Fall which will see us head into the Legislature on October 1st and I'm really excited about the opportunities and work that is ahead!

Have I told you how thrilled I am to be your Minister of Agriculture?

Organic food and beverage products sold in B.C. must be certified

As of Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, people can buy British Columbia food products and beverages that are marketed as organic with more confidence, knowing that the products have been certified through an accredited provincial or federal program.

“People are more engaged then ever with how their food is grown and processed,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Requiring certification for the use of the term ‘organic’ for the sales of B.C. foods and beverages means producers... are able to offer British Columbians an increased level of certainty about the farming and processing practices of their products.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Joint statement on wildfires in BC

Federal Agriculture Minister MacAulay and I issued a joint statement on British Columbia wildfires on Friday.

I feel confident that Minister MacAulay and I will continue to work closely together as we support ranchers and farmers in the face of this challenging wildfire season.

From: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Statement
August 23, 2018 – Nanaimo, British Columbia – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, and Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia, Lana Popham, issued the following statement today in response to the British Columbia wildfires.
“The Governments of Canada and British Columbia are working closely together to ensure the safety of Canadians during this difficult time. In addition to other actions being taken by both our governments, officials are monitoring the wildfires and the potential impacts on farms.
“A suite of federal-provincial-territorial business risk management programs is available to help farmers manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm, including disaster situations. We encourage farmers to participate in these programs to help ensure they can access support during these difficult times.
“Having been farmers ourselves, our thoughts go out to the farm families who have been affected by the wildfires. In British Columbia and across Canada, our hardworking farmers are the backbone of our economy. We are committed to supporting them at this difficult time as they work hard to get their safe, high-quality products to our kitchen tables.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

Royal BC Museum Macabee Fossil Event

I had a lovely time speaking at the Royal BC Museums unveiling of a collection of Fossils donated by John Leahy and family. John was a teacher in Kamloops and his collection will now help spark an interest in future paleontologists. An amazing example of BC Heritage right here in Victoria! The Royal BC Museum has gratefully accepted this donation of the world's largest collection from the McAbee Fossil Beds. The collection is comprised of over 18,000 pieces.

What would your choice be for a “Provincial Fossil?” Vote now until the end of November!
Add your vote at

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Provincial State of Emergency Declared

Our government has declared a state of emergency to make sure we have all of the resources necessary to keep British Columbians safe.

With over 560 fires now burning, BC continues to experience heightened wildfire activity, and there are over 3300 personnel now supporting wildfire response efforts. My deepest gratitude and appreciation to everyone who is working to contain the wildfires and caring for those who have been affected.

To prepare your farm for emergencies, start here:

No matter where you are in the province, please remain vigilant – it’s imperative that we each do our part to prevent wildfires. Please click here to read the full news release from earlier today

Friday, August 10, 2018

Nuts about Hazelnuts!!

Many of you will know how much I've been chatting up hazelnut production in our Province over the past 10 years! This Summer I was able to launch a hazelnut revitalization project from my Ministry with hopes to relaunch an industry that has so much potential. 

Guess who noticed my enthusiasm? 

A company you will know as Ferrero who makes many sweet treats including Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Nutella and Kinder Surprise! Hazelnuts are very important to their operations and so today I met with Jorge Acevedo from Ferrero Luxembourg and Barb Yates who works for Ferrero as a Hazelnut Agronomist. Looking forward to our follow up meetings to come!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Report from Committee for Revitalizing the ALR and ALC Received!

I’m happy to share that the independent Minister’s Advisory Committee for Revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve and Agricultural Land Commission has submitted its interim report!

I’m so thankful to the members of the Advisory Committee for their hard work, and I’m looking forward to reviewing their recommendations. Committee members did significant work to engage British Columbians in the development of these recommendations, and this report is an important contribution to the conversation we’ve been having in our province to build a strong and resilient agricultural sector for generations to come.

The committee identified 13 recommendations for legislative and regulatory change, 4 recommendations for action to protect the ALR, and 14 key issues still under consideration for its final report.

The committee also submitted a second “what we heard” report that summarizes the findings from stakeholder meetings and public engagement that occurred over multiple months. You can access both documents by clicking here! 


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Great Times at Saanich Sunday Farmers' Market!

I had so much fun at the Saanich Sunday Farmers' Market this past weekend! Not only did I end up with a big bag of amazing produce and goods from the market (including the bag itself!) but we also passed out some #BuyBC swag as well! If you haven't been able to check it out this year there are still 3 more market days left this season - I highly recommend you stop by!


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Awesome News for Agricultural Innovation!

It was so awesome to be at Kwantlen Polytechnic University to announce one of the coolest things ever: a new research farm and seed lab!!

Our government is investing $670,000 to fund world-class research and innovation that will help local organic farmers grow sustainable and healthy food options for British Columbians to enjoy.

This funding will help farmers develop better seeds, crops and growing methods. More importantly, it will lead to more healthy, nutritious food that’s grown right here in BC and produced sustainably!

The research farm is going to be 8.1 hectares – bigger than 15 football fields put side-by-side! I truly can’t wait to see the amazing work comes out of this new facility.

For even more details you can visit the following link:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

New additions to our team!

So excited to update you with some new additions to our team! Many of you folks already know Maureen Rogers as one of my amazing Constituency Assistants, and I'm super happy to let you know that Ravi Parmar has joined our community office as a full-time Constituency Assistant as well!

Also pictured are Sam Godfrey (one of my amazing Ministerial Assistants) and Chris Wieczorek, my fantastic interim Executive Assistant. Whether it's constituency or ministerial work I'm so happy to have these guys (and so many more!) on my team!

Monthly Micro-Actions: Plastic Alternatives

*MLA’s note* I’m so happy to introduce Laska Paré! Laska is one of our amazing constituents in Saanich South, and is also a monthly guest blogger on my website! She writes about tips on small changes we can make in our day-to-day lives to encourage us to live more sustainably. Read on below to find out more! -Lana 

No one knows exactly how much plastic waste ends up in the ocean. A 2018 National Geographic article featured this estimate made by an engineering professor: somewhere between 5.3 million and 14 million tons each year just from coastal regions[1]. While that’s a distressing estimate, the fact is the problem persists and not every location has the infrastructure to recycle. And while recycling may seem commonplace, it is important to remember that the first R is to REDUCE.

“But I can only reuse my toothbrush for so long and this is a hygienic necessity that I can’t reduce or eliminate.” Of course, we don’t want you reusing your one toothbrush forever, so the question then becomes how can I REDUCE the waste that comes from the products I use?

Remember, just because we recycle doesn’t mean it makes it to the recycling station or gets turned into something new and useable. This is why we have to explore the opportunity to reduce everyday plastics, like toothbrushes!

Did you know a person may use 160 toothbrushes over their lifetime? And that’s just the result of 1 person using 1 instrument. There are over 7 billion people in the world, most of which brush their teeth with a typical plastic toothbrush. That’s 160 toothbrushes X 7,000 000 000 000 people totaling… Yikes!!

The good news is alternative solutions to plastic are popping up everywhere and are becoming more readily accessible.

Bamboo for the Win

Switching to a bamboo toothbrush means not only reducing plastic but utilizing a product made from the fastest growing plant on the planet. Bamboo is known to grow over 4 feet a DAY in the right conditions; as such, it’s considered a sustainable resource.

My journey to reduce plastic in my life began with a toothbrush realization I had while living in Hong Kong. In this video, which aired on Shaw TV earlier this year, I share details about my Zero Waste journey and highlight companies doing great work by offering plastic-free alternatives for consumers. 

Micro-Action For August

We’re addicted to plastic at a planetary scale, and solving the plastic problem will be incredibly challenging on a global level. We can, however, REDUCE our dependence on plastic at an individual level.

This month, when you go to the store to make a purchase consider if there’s a plastic free-alternative available. Thanks to Smartphones, you can do a quick Google search in the store and learn about the options available to you. 

Also, feel free to Email Us if you’d like to know of a plastic alternative to something you use every day! I’m happy to address reader feedback in my next blog.



Friday, July 27, 2018

A Coffee Break to Remember...

It’s been a really busy week – from representing our government at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region’s 2018 Summit in Spokane, Washington to touring farms and orchards around Oliver, BC – but I was so grateful to find a few moments to have coffee with the indomitable Corky Evans.

For those of you who don’t know, Corky served ten years as an MLA and held several different cabinet positions over his time in office… including as Minister of Agriculture!

And just in case you were wondering about what Agriculture Ministers do once they leave office, this is Corky processing garlic on his farm during our visit this morning! Even after a few years out of politics his passion for agriculture and our province’s food security is still as strong as ever.

Thanks for the chat, Corky.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

New Campsites for Parks Day!

Today is Canada’s Parks Day, and visitors to BC Parks and forestry recreation sites have an additional reason to celebrate: we’ve added 431 new campsites throughout the province!

Folks within Saanich South and from all around the province are certainly passionate about spending time in our world-class provincial parks. Our parks system – the third largest in North America, behind only the United States’ National Park Service and Parks Canada – receives an astounding 21 million visits a year!

The new campsites have been added in areas with the highest demand, which includes Vancouver Island. Along with the new campsites, existing facilities and infrastructure have also been upgraded in many campgrounds.

Still trying to plan a last-minute summer getaway? Of the 10,700 campsites BC Parks manages 55% are reservable, while the other 45% remain on a first-come, first-served basis! You can visit the BC Parks link below to find out more!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Loving Food and Reducing Waste!

Did you know that 47 percent of food waste in Canada happens at home?! Or that the average Canadian household throws out almost 140 kilograms of food per year, at a cost of more than $1,100? Or that Canada’s 2.2 million tons of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 2.1 million cars on the road?

Thankfully it’s not all bad news! The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the CRD, and other municipal, provincial and non-government partners across Canada have come together to support the Love Food Hate Waste Canada campaign!

The campaign offers super practical and easy tips for keeping and storing fresh food, using up existing ingredients, and planning better to avoid over-purchasing food.
What’s even better is this campaign has a demonstrated track record of success! Love Food Hate Waste is modelled on a similar campaign that ran in the UK. In its first five years across the pond, it helped to cut avoidable food waste by 21 percent – leading to savings for UK consumers of almost 22 billion dollars!!

I would definitely encourage you to check out the campaign’s website, which I’ve linked below! There’s a lot of great information, tips, and even recipes! Not only can you #BuyBC and support our amazing local farmers and producers – you can do it without excess food waste as well! 

To learn more, click here or visit 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fire Ban Starts Tomorrow

Just so you know: effective noon on July 18 (tomorrow!) open burning fires – including campfires – will be prohibited within the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction, which includes all of Vancouver Island.

This ban will help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety. High temperatures and no rain in the immediate forecast are both reasons the Coastal Fire Centre has implemented this ban.

Since April 1, 2018, 69% of wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre region have been human-caused. These fires are preventable and can divert critical firefighting resources away from natural occurring wildfires.

I know many folks have plans to take advantage of our province’s amazing natural beauty this summer – whether it’s going camping, planning a road trip, or just getting out to the beach these activities are always the best part of summer! No matter what you’ll be doing in the coming weeks it’s really important that everyone respects these prohibitions.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, you can call 1-800-663-5555 (toll free) or *5555 on your cell. I’ve also posted a link to news release with more information and a map of the areas currently under the fire ban – please feel free to share and spread the word.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Buy BC and British Columbian fairs: A Perfect Match!

The fair and exhibition season has definitely started all across BC and I couldn’t be more excited!

Not only are they tons of fun, but fairs and exhibitions connect British Columbians to all the amazing products being grown, raised, processed and produced in our province.

This year, I’m pleased that fairgoers will be encouraged to visit Buy BC-themed exhibits at participating fairs to learn more about the importance of supporting local producers and farmers.
Tom Harter, president of the BC Association of Agricultural Fairs and Exhibitions says “as more consumers become better connected to where their food comes from, this campaign will be a great platform to educate fairgoers on the important role agriculture plays in almost everything that goes on the dinner table.”

Fairgoers and exhibition attendees are encouraged to post photos on social media of the Buy BC-themed exhibits with the hashtags #BCFairs and #BuyBC. For a full list of participating fairs and exhibitions this year – which includes the Saanich Fair! – click here.

Friday, July 6, 2018

First Saanich Sunday Farmers' Market This Weekend!!

Amid all of the amazing events happening in and around Saanich South this weekend (Saanich Strawberry Festival, Victoria Pride Parade, and more!) I wanted to put in a reminder about the Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market!!

The first market of the season takes place this Sunday, July 8th. It runs every Sunday from 10 am – 2 pm at Braefoot Park, 1359 McKenzie Avenue.

In addition to the talented local musicians, there’s of course an all-star team of vendors and local food producers! Whether you’re looking for some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, baked goods, or maybe even some BC wine and cider there’s something for everyone at the market. Take some time to #BuyBC and #EatDrinkLocal - your taste buds will definitely thank you!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

How we can help

As the MLA for Saanich South, my job is to represent the 55,000 residents who call this beautiful region home in the BC Legislature. A really important piece of this work is my community office, located at 4243-260 Glanford Avenue. I often receive questions about what exactly my community office can help constituents with and so I’ve tried my best to set out an overview below!

In broad terms, my community office and the small but mighty team who work there can help residents of Saanich South who need assistance resolving issues related to the provincial government or issues related to branches of the provincial government.

We regularly help people with challenges relating to health care, education, small business, senior services, and housing and transportation. For instance, my office recently worked to resolve an issue for a constituent who was having problems with BC Hydro.

Our community office also regularly organizes public events that are free of charge and open to all residents, such as community open houses and panel discussions about important issues.

As well, our office has a boardroom that can accommodate up to 40 people! It’s available to community groups in Saanich South free of charge to use for meetings. If you or someone you know is interested in using this space, give our office a call at (250) 479 4154 or send an email to for more information.

I have included a more extensive list of the ways my community office can help below. One caveat is that our office’s mandate is to assist residents in the riding of Saanich South. If you’re unsure which riding you are in or who your provincial representative is, you can easily find out by clicking here and entering your postal code or doing a manual search.

Ways our office can help:

1. Provide information on locating government services and contact information

2. Assist in understanding provincial government policies and services and legislation and the impacts on the community

3. Assist in navigating through government bureaucracy

4. Ensure that due process is being followed

5. Attend community events and causes by promoting events and organization in the community through our website, newsletter and the community office

6. Provide congratulatory messages signed by the MLA for special birthdays, anniversaries and achievements

7. Provide government documents, legislation, discussion papers and other web-based forms if you don’t have Internet access

If you have any questions or are unsure if our office would be able to provide assistance, please get in touch! Our approach is non-partisan and solutions-oriented, and my staff will treat you with dignity and maintain your privacy.

All the contact information for my community office is available by clicking here. The office is open Monday to Thursday from 9-4, and on Fridays by appointment.

Cheers, Lana

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Monthly Micro-Action: BYOBAG

*MLA’s note* I’m so happy to introduce Laska Paré! Laska is one of our amazing constituents in Saanich South, and is also a monthly guest blogger on my website! She writes about tips on small changes we can make in our day-to-day lives to encourage us to live more sustainably. Read on below to find out more! -Lana 

July 1st and it’s finally here: Victoria's new bylaw banning businesses from providing single-use plastic bags at the checkout.

Did you know?

Each Victoria resident uses approximately 200 single-use plastic bags a year[1]. For a population of 85,000 (and growing!), this equates to 17 million plastic bags, making up more than 15% the waste at the Hartland landfill! And that’s just Victoria. Check out the June cover of National Geographic where they pose the ominous question, Planet or Plastic?

Like an iceberg looming on the horizon, plastic poses a threat in the unknown. What impact are plastics having on us, and our environment? What is the scale of the impact both now and in the future? How can we begin to untangle ourselves from our relationships with plastic, and will this be enough?

Part of understanding the plastic problem lies in understanding the ‘solutions’ that are currently available. One challenge is that while solutions do appear to exist, closer examination shows they aren’t necessarily effective at addressing the problem. “But this bag is biodegradable!” “Biodegradable” is often advertised on products or food packaging. By definition it means “to decay and become absorbed by the environment”. Do plastic bags biodegrade? Yes, they do break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic when exposed to sunlight and water. But they do not decompose into elements found in nature. No wonder people are confused. To most of us, “break down” sounds like a good thing. But what many of us may not realize is if the components are not from nature, they will only degrade so far and could become ingested by smaller life forms. But what many of us may not realize is that degraded plastic is still plastic, and once in the environment, this can have devastating results. For example, fish.

In 2015, the United Nations Environment Programme identified biodegradables as an “unrealistic solution” and concluded that “the label ‘biodegradable’ may actually encourage littering.”

Tackling the iceberg

We each have a role to play in reducing the burden of plastic on our planet. July 1st marks the first day of the new BYO Bag bylaw, which affects all businesses in the City of Victoria (for more information about the bylaw see here. Think of this as your first day with less plastic, and a great time to start your reduced-plastic frame of mind.

The City of Victoria has launched a contest seeking out creative and compelling ways to promote reusable shopping bags. Being the eco-warrior that I am, I took on the challenge and created a fun rap in support of the new bylaw. Check out my entry!

Micro-Action For July

Ditch the plastic and bring your own bag. Make it part of your daily routine to remember at least one reusable bag whenever you leave the house, and keep a spare (or two!) in the car and at work. Remember, incorporating one small change into your life and routine is how we all collectively tackle the proverbial plastic iceberg. Micro-actions are all about taking small steps toward meaningful goals.



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Congratulations to Serenity Farm!

It was such a privilege to attend Feeding Ourselves and Others at Serenity Farm's community open house!! Many of you have probably driven by hundreds of times and not even realized it… it’s located at 4575 Blenkinsop Road on the grounds of the Seven Oaks Facility.

At the farm participants and community volunteers work side-by-side to produce organic vegetables and fruit which are provided free to the participants and community agencies, as well as sold to the community. Between April and October last year working two days a week they grew 4000 lbs of produce… that’s incredible!

What you might not know is that Serenity Farm provides a therapeutic environment for marginalized people struggling with certain challenges. The most moving part of the open house was learning from the volunteers and participants about how much the farm meant to them and how much they have learned from each other – and about themselves – through this project. The passion and dedication every single person brought to the farm was extraordinary and truly inspiring.
The project is a true community effort, and the amount of people who keep it going are too many to name! The farm receives support from the John Howard Society, Island Health, United Way, Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Victoria Integrated Community Outreach Team and so, so many more. This project also wouldn’t have been possible without many individuals, including David Stott and Dave Johnson, as well as the participants and community volunteers and supporters.

It’s days like this that I love most… the sun is shining in beautiful Saanich South and people have gathered together to celebrate a program that benefits us all and improves our shared quality of life. And it’s even centered on farming! Congratulations again to everyone involved in making Serenity Farm such a success – I’m excited to see the amazing work continue!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Buy BC Back With Vengeance!

I was so happy over the weekend to announce at the Moss Street Market that the Buy BC program has officially been revived and is back with a vengeance! 

This popular marketing program was a game changer when it was first introduced over 16 years ago…but it was cancelled in the early 2000s.

Now, we’re relaunching BuyBC to connect more British Columbians with fabulous food, beverage and seafood products from here and across the province.

Agriculture and food production contributes so much to our society in terms of food security, economic activity and community strength.

I announced $2 million dollars per year for 3 years in support of cost-shared funding that is available not only to agricultural producers and processors, but also to relevant industry associations as well as fairs and markets within B.C.

As well, logo licensing agreements will be available for B.C. agriculture and seafood companies wishing to use the Buy BC logo to help consumers easily identify local products. 

More and more, British Columbians want to explore and taste what is grown and produced in B.C., and we’re helping provide the map to doing that by branding BC products with the Buy BC logo.
Our government is committed to doing more to help British Columbians understand the impact of their food choices. We want them to know that choosing to support local agriculture has positive impacts on B.C. farmers, fishermen, brewers and winemakers, to name a few, our health and also on our local economies.

When a consumer picks up a product with the Buy BC logo at their local grocery store or farmers market, the message will be clear!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wildflower Seeds Available!

My community office received a super exciting delivery today! At the Day of the Honey Bee a few weeks ago MLA Ravi Kahlon had his own special “pollinator blend” of seeds that help support our native and domestic pollinators, and I knew I had to get in on the act. You might say he “sowed the seed” for this idea!  

I can’t wait for members of the community to plant these all around Saanich South in the coming weeks and months! I’ll be handing out seed packets at events all over the community, including Cordova Bay Day this coming Saturday!

I’ll also save some seed packets to keep at my community office, located at 4243 Glanford Road (Unit 260). It’s open from 9-4, Monday to Thursday – stop by if you’re in the area and pick up a package to plant in your garden!  

Friday, June 15, 2018

Public Education Set To Benefit From New Investments

Personally, I’m a huge believer in our public education system. A strong public education system is a benefit to all of us, and one of the most meaningful investments we can make in our kids and in our future.

What’s more, public education doesn’t just start at kindergarten and stop at Grade 12. Our province’s pre-primary and post-secondary education systems also play an important role in ensuring our future generations are equipped with the skills they need to thrive.  

Our government is committed to supporting every part of our education system, and I’m proud of the work we’ve been doing. Just today, we announced that School District 63 in Saanich will receive nearly $200,000 this year for needed upgrades and new equipment in trades classrooms!

This investment will allow students to learn on the most up-to-date technology and provide early exposure to some of the most rewarding and in-demand careers in our province. This investment is just part of $3.5 million being distributed across the province and many school districts, including SD 61 in Victoria, are set to benefit as well.

We’ve also taken meaningful steps to support the pre-primary child care sector. As just one example, for the first time in the Province’s history child care providers will be able to access repair, replacement and relocation funds. Whereas providers previously had to pay out-of-pocket for repair and facility upgrades, they can now focus on providing the quality care that so many families need.
Finally, we’ve been continuing to support and work with our partners at the post-secondary level. My colleague, the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training been leading this file for our government.

Just two examples of the action we’ve taken includes a $1.5 million funding announcement to increase accessibility funding at 20 post-secondary institutions across the province.  This funding will ensure education and employment training is accessible and works for everyone.

A little closer to home, our government announced a new $2.25 million graduate-student scholarship fund at UVIC that will help spark innovation, economic growth, and research that benefits British Columbians throughout the province.

Summer vacation will soon be upon us, but that doesn't mean the work will stop! I'm excited to continue on the progress we've made, and can't wait to see how these investments will impact our education system for years to come.

My colleague, the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark, announcing new graduate funding at UVIC

Friday, June 8, 2018

Thank You For An Amazing Open House!

To all of you who came out to our Open House this past Tuesday, thank you! The event was a huge success – we had over 70 folks show up to say hi, check out the new office, enjoy some delicious local food, and talk about all that we’ve accomplished over the past ten months. It was fantastic to see so many new and familiar faces!

If you weren’t able to make it out, please feel free to stop by the new office at your convenience! We’re located at 4243 Glanford Avenue, Unit 260. It’s right between the Red Barn and the Bottle Depot. As a reminder, our community office is able to provide assistance on a wide range of matters relating to the provincial government and provincial government agencies.

One more reminder: our new office has an amazing boardroom that can hold up to 40 people! It’s available to community groups in Saanich South free of charge. To find out more, drop by or give my office a call at (250) 479 4154.


With Zac and Ryan, two amazing young men and Saanich South constituents