Thursday, February 2, 2017

Addictions should be treated with the same urgency as wildfires

John Horgan, Leader of the Official
Opposition in the BC Legislature
Thank you John Horgan, Leader of the Official Opposition, for speaking out about the overdose crisis. This is what compassion, clear-thinking and determination looks like.

January 31, 2017. Source: CBC.ca

OPINION, BCNDP Leader, John Horgan

Addictions should be treated withthe same urgency as wildfires

We lost 914 people to overdoses last year.

Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and partners were stolen away from those they loved. We need to work together on this issue. Think of wildfires. We never wait to check the budget before putting the fires out. We get at it right away.

When we’re in crisis, we need to come together and we need to address that crisis as a community. I know all British Columbians share my disappointment that the government has been slow to get this issue under control.

Right now, emergency responders are stretched to the breaking point. The response to the fentanyl crisis has largely rested on their shoulders, and the shoulders of community members. Without their heroic efforts, many more would have been lost.

Yet, nearly a year after the Christy Clark government branded the fentanyl crisis as a public health emergency, ambulances and naloxone remain one of the only responses available to stem the tide of deaths.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Statement regarding massacre at Quebec City Mosque

O'Hare International Airport Jan 30 2017
(Photo credit: Chicago Tribune)
Dear Constituents,

I would like to add my voice to the many Canadians who are expressing condolences, compassion and solidarity for our Muslim friends, family and neighbours at this difficult time. A massacre inside a Mosque in Quebec City - it is shocking to contemplate.

This is a moment for all good-hearted people to speak up for the values of diversity and inclusiveness. A moment to recommit ourselves to multiculturalism and respect for human rights. It is very inspiring to see this happening all over Canada.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Saanich News: Agriculture remains a priority ahead of election

MLA Report
By Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, January 17 2017

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my past work and share with you how I intend to move forward.
This will be my final MLA Report before the provincial election on May 9.
In the past 10 months I have contributed 18 columns to the Saanich News. I’ve written on a range of topics from the need to improve public education to the painful reality faced by people on a low income; from the economic and social benefits that would result from improved child care options for young families to protecting precious places like Elk/Beaver Lake and demanding meaningful action on climate change.
A huge thank you to the Saanich News for allowing me the opportunity to share my opinions directly with our community. This paper has done a public service by publishing regular “MLA Reports” - they give readers a convenient tool to assess the work of their elected representatives.
This spring marks my completion of eight years’ work as your MLA. In many ways it is an investment: you have invested your trust and your hard-earned tax-dollars in me.
In return I have poured all my energy into working for you. From my community office I’ve helped hundreds of people who are struggling or in crisis. I’ve organized and hosted dozens of community gatherings and public meetings on topics brought forward by residents. This work has led to tangible accomplishments such as improvements to the Pat Bay Highway and it has enlivened the community through public events such as the one I organized with the Royal B.C. Museum. Rarely-seen treasures from the museum’s collection were brought directly to Claremont secondary school and to a free public evening event.
In addition I have not shied away from taking up controversial issues on behalf of the community. This has included work on everything from fighting inadequate restrictions on sex offenders, to a forum on the medical use of cannabis, to public advocacy on the need for improved medical assistance in dying.
In the B.C. Legislature I have worked just as hard. As a member of the official opposition, I have drafted and introduced Bills and formal statements. I’ve held the premier and ministers to account for their failures and misdeeds during long debates and hostile question periods.
I’ve learned a huge amount in the official opposition. My colleagues and I have studied policy and proposed far-reaching plans and practical solutions for the challenges we face in B.C. But to bring this work to life we need to be in government.
As the opposition spokesperson for agriculture I have travelled to every corner of the province and met with hundreds of farmers and leaders in the BC food industry. After listening closely I developed a comprehensive plan for how we can strengthen agriculture in BC. But again, to turn these ideas into reality I need to be part of the government.
I want to put what I’ve learned and what you’ve invested in me over the past eight years to good use. That is why I’m sharing with you now that I intend to run for re-election. You will be the judge of my work and you will make the final decision about what to do with your investment in me.
But until the “Election Writ Drops” on April 11, I will continue happily on as the Member of B.C. legislature for Saanich South. It remains my privilege to assist you with provincial matters and represent you in the BC Legislature. I welcome your feedback.
You can reach me at 250-479-4154 or by email at lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca.
Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pedestrian Overpass of Pat Bay Hwy at Piedmont Ave?

Dear Saanich South,

A question: would you support improved access to Elk/Beaver Lake via a pedestrian/cycling overpass of the Pat Bay Hwy at the food of Piedmont Drive?

This proposal is supported by the Cordova Bay Residents Association and the Victoria City Rowing Club, among others. It is consistent with the Ministry of Transportation's Pat Bay Highway Corridor Plan. The improvement would include transit stops at both sides of the Hwy and would restrict vehicle access between Piedmont and the Hwy.

Your support is necessary to move such projects forward. Your questions and criticisms can help improve the plan - or send us back to the drawing board! Please share your opinions with an email to lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca or through this very short survey: https://goo.gl/forms/PVwmqq7Bm1iVXtBj2

The survey is open until Feb 28th. It will help me track responses and follow-up with interested folks. Thanks!

I am opening up the topic for discussion and to gauge public support of the concept. Lots more work would be done before formal plans would be brought forward for consideration. But in my view it is good to get the public's input at the start of the process rather than at the end. 


Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

ddd:)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Saanich News: Concerns remain over sewage plan

MLA REPORT
by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, December 20 2016

The long journey that our sewage treatment planning has taken in the CRD is all too familiar to most of us. 

The latest chapter began in September when a BC Liberal government Project Board and the CRD created another plan.

This was very similar to an earlier proposal and includes a regional sewage plant in Esquimalt that will treat the sewage, release liquids into the ocean and pump the remaining solids through a pipeline to Hartland Landfill in Saanich.

After this decision was made I received many emails and calls from constituents, most expressing frustration or outrage at different aspects of the plan. A majority of the people who contacted my office live in the Prospect Lake and Willis Point area. Their drinking water is from wells and a top concern I heard was that this plan puts their water supply at risk.

Residents in both communities asked me to help organize a public meeting. They wanted answers to their specific questions and they wanted their concerns addressed. They did not want a repeat of what has happened before: they are “consulted” after decisions have already been made.

I wrote to the Project board on October 6th proposing meeting dates for the end of November. I made it clear that the goal of this public meeting was to have an amicable and efficient Q&A session attended by CRD or Project Board representatives who could speak knowledgeably to the issues under discussion. To that end my Constituency Office was prepared assist in outreach, including collating questions that would be provided in advance of the meeting. We also offered to organize the public meeting and cover the costs.

On October 11th I received a response from the Project Board refusing my offer and informing me that they would be undergoing their own consultation process.

I replied expressing my disappointment that the Board wouldn’t entertain participating in a community meeting moderated by myself as the MLA for Saanich South and attended by the Willis Point Community Association and Prospect Lake District Community Association. I pointed out that affected communities have a reasonable expectation of being updated on plans at the beginning of such a process and that delays create unnecessary anxiety and are inconsistent with the principle of transparency. The community expects the opportunity to offer feedback and input before decisions are made rather than being informed after the fact and being presented with proposals that are in fact finalized.

I reiterated that this meeting was not intended to berate the CRD or rehash the past decade. I asked the Project Board Chair to reconsider her decision but to date I have not received a reply or response to my email. It has been over two months.

As the MLA for an area that will be significantly affected by this project I am troubled by the Project Board’s failure to fully and openly engage with residents and local resident associations. It is a warning sign that we are again advancing a sewage treatment plan that lacks local accountability and a social licence.


I again call on the Project Board to meet publicly with local residents and show good faith by answering their questions and addressing their concerns. I remain ready and willing to help facilitate this process.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

MSP Premiums

Dear Constituents, 

I'm pleased to share the position of the Official Opposition on MSP Premiums: they are not fair and should be eliminated.

It doesn’t make sense that a person making $42,000 a year pays the same amount as a person earning $400,000, or even $4 million. 
MSP premiums do not have any relation to the actual cost of health care and increases to MSP premiums are rising faster than increases in health spending and faster than inflation. 
Since Christy Clark became premier, she has increased MSP fees every single year – fees are up by 24 per cent in the last 5 years alone. 
Recently Christy Clark and her government announced that MSP premiums would stay at the current rate in 2017, cancelling their planned 4 per cent increase. But that doesn’t apply to more than 500,000 B.C. families without children at home that will see one of the largest ever medical services premium tax hikes on January 1st. 
Her ‘freeze’ on MSP for some British Columbians has come as no surprise – 2017 is an election year and she wants you to believe that she’s on your side. The real truth is that over half a million British Columbians will be paying more leaving her government to rake in an extra $46 million a year.  
Christy Clark thinks senior couples living on fixed incomes, and young people who are just starting their professional lives don’t deserve a break. She is not putting British Columbians first – and that is certainly the case when it comes to the unfair Medical Services Plan premiums. 
MSP premiums are another cost to B.C. families, especially those already struggling to make ends meet. The Official Opposition recognizes that the current system only benefits those at the top, and this needs to change.
All British Columbians should be treated fairly and MSP premiums should be eliminated.

Lana

Lana Popham
MLA, Saanich South

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Saanich News: Pipeline expansion endangers environment

MLA REPORT
by Lana Popham
Reprinted* from the Saanich News, December 6 2016

Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal government have failed to oppose Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project. Their inaction puts B.C.’s coast at risk and is not in the best interests of British Columbians.

I am categorically opposed to this project. It is too risky for the environment and the economy. In this I stand with many people, including B.C. NDP leader John Horgan, the majority of British Columbians and the First Nations over whose land these pipelines will travel.


I am working to empower British Columbians to build a forward-looking economy. One that gains strength from the labour and creativity of our residents and is powered by renewable energy and the sustainable use of our natural resources.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion takes us in exactly the opposite direction. It is a project that endangers our environment and our economy, worsens climate change and damages relations with First Nations.

If the B.C. and federal Liberals get their way, this project will lead to a pipeline that crosses more than 500 rivers in the Fraser Valley watershed and increases tanker traffic sevenfold. There would be more than 400 tankers every year passing right by our homes on the south Island. And remember these tankers would be carrying diluted bitumen, an oil so thick, viscous and crude that any major spill would be impossible to fully clean and would cause tremendous damage to wildlife, our life-giving watersheds and natural places like Cordova Bay and Cadboro Bay. This plan would mean that on average every day there would be 890,000 barrels of oil moving past our beaches and coastline. Every day. The ecology of our coast and the Salish Sea as a whole is simply too precious and vulnerable for us to continue down this path.

The small but terribly damaging diesel spill in Bella Bella in October was a reminder that the weather on the open water in the strait can make it impossible to clean up oil spills and that the consequences of even a small spill can be catastrophic for people living nearby.
The economic impact of a major oil spill on the shores of Vancouver or Victoria could be epochal, potentially decimating our tourism industry for years, and putting tens of thousands of people out of work. More than 300,000 jobs in B.C. depend directly on a healthy coast. Vancouver has estimated even trying to clean up a moderate spill would cost more than a billion dollars.


The Liberal’s Kinder Morgan plan is also completely irreconcilable with our climate change commitments. To start with, the diluted bitumen oil this pipeline will bring is from the Alberta tar sands, one of the most polluting sources of energy in Canada. Canada’s emissions have been rising since 2009. Adding new tar sands emissions will only exacerbate the enormous challenge we face with global warming.

Burning all the oil transported from an expanded Kinder Morgan Pipeline would add at least 75-100 million tonnes of climate-changing greenhouse gases into our atmosphere every year! As context, consider that in 2014 B.C. produced greenhouse gas emissions totalling 64 million tonnes.*

This is a moment of truth for us all. Kinder Morgan plans to begin construction of the pipeline this fall. We must demand the B.C. Liberals stop favouring the petro-corporations that line their pockets and start protecting our environment and the long-term interests of all British Columbians.


As the B.C. New Democratic Opposition Leader MLA John Horgan said this week: “British Columbians gave Christy Clark a chance to protect our coast and she chose to put wealthy donors before the well-being of local communities, First Nations and our coastal environment.”*

Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals have not stepped up to defend our coast. But the B.C. NDP opposition has, and we will continue to do so. Let’s demand a B.C. government that will defend our coast and advance a vibrant, forward-looking economy with good jobs and incomes.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.


Source:  http://www.saanichnews.com/community/404864486.html *Starred paragraphs were removed from print version for reasons of length but have been reproduced here.



Thursday, November 24, 2016

Saanich News: Watershed Event

OPINION - MLA REPORT
by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, November 23 2016

There are hundreds of people in our community who volunteer to improve our local environment. They often organize around a particular part of nature or natural life. It might be helping to restore a stream so salmon can once again use it to spawn, or to protect a forest stand that holds endangered wildlife and trees that are hundreds of years old. There are literally dozens of streams, rivers, bogs, wetlands, lakes and other natural places in Saanich that are cared for by our volunteering friends and neighbours.

It makes sense to focus in on specific parts of an ecosystem, it helps to set priorities and makes goals more achievable. But it also means that all these different individuals, societies, associations, volunteer groups and charities can feel separated or disconnected from each other.

To strengthen our interconnectedness and celebrate all the volunteers who work to restore and protect our precious watersheds, I am very pleased to invite you to a dinner and family-friendly event: I Watersheds! It will take place on Saturday November 26th at the Cordova Bay United Church, from 5:30-9:00pm.

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 watershed volunteer community leaders.

A “watershed” is a good way to think about our interconnectedness. Watersheds are physical spaces that hold, filter and move rainfall. They include streams, rivers, lakes, bogs and inlets. There are two watersheds that cover almost all of the Constituency of Saanich South, named after the Colquitz River and Tod Creek. Watersheds are all around us and essential to our health and well-being even if we sometimes take them for granted.

Watersheds are often called “arteries of the land,” that is how important they are!

Watersheds filter water so we can drink it; they recharge reservoirs and aquifers and are critical to our local farmers, they give life and nourishment to countless species of fish, birds, invertebrates and mammals; they hold together larger ecosystems and clean and refresh the water, soil and air that we and all beings require to survive and thrive. When appreciating the importance of sustainable watersheds in our communities, we must begin by acknowledging the great debt we owe to the Coast Salish people. They preserved the richness of the environment we live in today for thousands of years before colonization in the 19th century. There are five original First Nations of W̱SÁNEĆ (anglicized as “Saanich”): the Tsawout, Tsartlip, Tseycum, Malahat and Pauquachin Nations. As we work to restore watersheds from the impact of settlement and industrialization, we can look to the history and knowledge of the Saanich and Coast Salish peoples for insights and direction.

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.

Tickets are only $10 (and that includes dinner). Seating is limited: tickets can be picked-up Mon-Thurs, 9:30am-2:00pm at the Constituency Office, 4085 Quadra St. For more information call my office at 250 479 4154 or visit www.saanichsouth.ca.

Warm Regards,

MLA Lana Popham

Original article: http://www.saanichnews.com/community/402334505.html

SHAW TV: Constituency Report, Fall 2016

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.

Saanich News: Celebrating sustainable food

OPINION - MLA REPORT
by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, Nov 9, 2016

I’m very active on Facebook – but I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The technology can be complicated and distancing. And we all have our own expectations of privacy.
So for those of you who aren’t on Facebook, I would like to share a personal post and photograph that I put up on my birthday last week.
It will give you insight into a big part of what inspires and motivates me every day, and a little context for how I set my priorities as Opposition spokesperson for agriculture and food.
Today I turned 48 years old. Yikes. I was so very fortunate to have been given a gift to dine at Chez Pannise (in Berkeley, Calif.) this weekend.
This restaurant and owner,  Alice Waters,  have been in business since 1971, almost as long as I’ve been alive. It’s been a centre of a food revolution and the influence Ms. Waters has had over her lifetime is remarkable. The things Alice Waters has dedicated her life to fighting for are an inspiration for me and allow me to know that food is worth the fight.
The idea of sustainable, regional, fresh, nutritious food may seem like a luxury, even trendy to some, but in reality I think it’s the way our world works best.
Sustainably scaled production, respect for our environment, fair treatment of workers, fair prices for food, a community that is educated on eating seasonally, kids who know where their food comes from and how to prepare it, chefs who have relationships with their farmers, universal access to nutritious food, a health care system that uses food as medicine – it’s all part of a healthy, diversified economy.
I am passionate about all of this and have dedicated my life and career to trying to find a way forward to this reality at a provincial level in B.C. I stand strong with so many of you who are on the same quest.
So, at 48 years old, I am checking Chez Panisse off my bucket list, and in doing so I celebrate all you farmers, producers, processors, chefs, eaters, consumers, teachers and farmland protectors who feel the same way I do: that we can change the world by the way we eat.
I look forward to continuing this fight for the rest of my life.
Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Saanich News: B.C. child care costs must be more affordable

OPINION - MLA REPORT
By Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, October 25 2016

Anyone who has raised children knows it is very challenging. The first five years before kindergarten are especially demanding for parents as they try to give kids the full-time high-quality care they need while at the same time earn the money the family requires to get by. If you are a single parent or don’t have a lot of resources or family support this can become an almost impossible workload.
It is well accepted that strategic government investment in young children creates a lifetime of benefits not just for those children but also for the society and economy as a whole. Making sure children get a good start in life benefits us all.
Regrettably Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal government have a long history of failing children who need help. This painful fact is evident when it comes to affordable child care in B.C.
You don’t need to take my word for it. Even the B.C. Chamber of Commerce has called out the B.C. Liberal government on this issue, noting that child care costs in B.C. continue to increase year after year while the availability of the needed services is decreasing. In their 2016/2017 Policy and Position Manual, the chamber makes an economic argument: the government should invest in child care because the economy as a whole benefits with more people in the workforce. First Call, a child and youth advocacy coalition, estimates that every public dollar invested in child care generates a return of $2.54 to our economy and that investing in the child care sector has a bigger job multiplier effect than in any other sector.
In addition to these economic arguments, there are compelling moral reasons to invest in child care. As a society we have an obligation to take care of each other and especially the most vulnerable among us. All children in B.C. deserve a good start in life. It’s that simple. For those who are struggling on a low income, the lack of affordable child care creates a tremendous obstacle to finding and keeping employment. By helping children with affordable child care we help parents create a better life for themselves and their families.
Child care costs in this region are normally at least $800 month and often substantially more. It is no wonder then that after housing, child care is the second highest cost facing B.C. families. It is another concerning example of the affordability crisis in B.C.
The evidence of the B.C. Liberal government’s failure on this issue is clear. B.C. invests just $398 a year per regulated child care space. That is less than half the Canadian average of $838 a year.
For the last 15 years the B.C. Liberal government has demonstrated they can’t get this right. In 2001, as one of new government’s first acts, the B.C. Liberal government and then-deputy premier Christy Clark cancelled a universal childcare initiative launched by the previous B.C. New Democratic government in partnership with the federal government. In the 2002 budget, the B.C. Liberal government drastically reduced funding for child care. B.C.’s total public investment in regulated child care decreased by $16 million between 2009 and 2012 alone. We regularly hear promises and announcements but the problem has not been addressed.
I’m sometimes criticized for always criticizing the government. First off, calling the government out is an important part of my job as a member of the official opposition.  Secondly, the official opposition has and will continue to put forward many clear policies and proposals.
When it comes to the lack of affordable child-care, the official opposition is proposing a $10 a day child care program. Once fully implemented, parents will be able to secure a spot in a regulated child care program for $10 per day attended. The cost to the province would be offset in part by increased income and sales tax resulting from more parents in the workforce. Governing is about choices. The current government chooses to give an annual $250 million tax break to the top two per cent. The official opposition would use such funds to provide affordable and accessible child care that benefits everyone, especially the 20 per cent of British Columbian children who live in poverty.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/opinion/398256661.html?mobile=true

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