Friday, August 14, 2020

I love Cycling!

As you may know – I love to cycle! It’s a great way to clear my mind, strengthen my body, have some fun, get to where I need to be, and connect with my community without increasing my GHG footprint. I have been an avid cyclist since I was a kid tackling the hills of Quadra Island. 

With all these great benefit to cycling, it’s just no wonder that during COVID-19 we’ve seen bicycle sales skyrocket and bicycle repair shops with line-ups down the block. If ever there was a time for a clear mind, a sense of fun, a healthy body, and connection to community – it’s now. 

And lucky us – Saanich South is really one of the best places in the world to cycle. With both rural and urban destinations very accessible with our network of Lochside and Galloping Goose bike trails, there’s really no excuse to not be heading out for a short ride for ice cream, to work – or an epic weekend adventure to Leech Town! 

That’s why the programming this year of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (GVCC) is so welcome. 

The GVCC has been organizing recreational and themed rides for almost three decades. Understanding that getting out on your bike is a great way to get and stay healthy, the GVCC made sure to create new themed rides this summer. You can even win great prizes! 

Saanich South is part of a couple fun rides that are happening now until August 20th. Choose between a 43 km Lake Loop ride that takes you by the sea in Gordon Head, along the E&N, and meanders along the lakeside roads of Prospect and Elk Lakes. Or explore the diverse neighbourhoods of Highlands on a  Scavenger Hunt ride where you'll find the site of the Plaskett’s Star discovery and a tree stump with the face of an old man on it. 

To enter the GVCC contest send in your photos, stories and videos telling the GVCC about your ride by August 20th, 2020. Check out the GVCC’s website for all the rides, contest details and entry form. As always, remember to allow space for others to pass on trails and roads when necessary to maintain social-distancing. 

And have fun – it’s summer! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

UPDATE on Strawberry Vale School

As you know our beloved Strawberry Vale School endured a fire on July 11, devastating some of the school’s roof. I’m still very grateful that no one was hurt – and that the school can be repaired!

I’ve now heard back from the Ministry of Education that the repairs are well underway and will be complete in time for August 31 registration and school opening sometime later in September. This is great news!

Currently the cranes are onsite removing debris and the repairs have commenced. The final costs of repairing it are still undetermined.

Go to the school website for more information on school opening.

A huge shout-out to the construction crew for making the school opening on time a priority!

PS – Dan Wood, deputy fire chief with the Saanich Fire Department encourages everyone to check any of your cordless appliances as lithium batteries have a history of over-heating, depending on the manufacturer. While it’s not yet clear what started this fire – this sounds like great advice!  

Monday, August 10, 2020

Supporting Small Farms

Did you know that Saanich has almost 400 properties that have farm status? Many of our local farms are small, family-run operations that are favourite suppliers of fresh eggs, fruits, vegetables and flowers for so many of us in Saanich South. Each of our local farms plays a key role in creating a strong and resilient food system – as does our government.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for some B.C. farm operations, including smaller-scale farms that depend on roadside stands, farm markets and public interaction for sales revenue. That’s why the Government of British Columbia announced this week that they are waiving minimum income requirements for existing B.C. farm operations, allowing them to maintain their current property tax farm status for 2021.

Our government is committed to helping farmers farm. It's been a difficult year for many people, and this change is just one more example of how we are recognizing the challenges and supporting farmers. Without this action, a number of properties would have been in jeopardy of losing farm status for the 2021 tax year, significantly increasing the property tax burden on those farmers and farm families.

In order to be classified as a farm in British Columbia, properties must meet certain criteria, including generating a minimum amount of gross income from a qualifying agriculture use based on the size of the parcel of land. This minimum income requirement must be met every two years and there must be some income generated every year. BC Assessment sends out self-reporting income questionnaires and conducts intermittent inspections to determine whether a property should maintain its farm status for the upcoming tax year.

This approach aligns with the Province's COVID-19 Action Plan to support businesses through the pandemic, as well as government's commitment to encourage agricultural production.
We know that robust and healthy farm operations will play an important role as we restart our economy. We know that the people in Saanich look to their local farmers to put healthy food on their tables.

Thanks for making an extra effort to support our farmers! Buying local is a delicious way to support our economy!

Learn More:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture has additional COVID-19 response and restart information for the B.C. agriculture and seafood sector available HERE.  
  • For further information on farm class assessment, visit BC Assessment HERE.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sustainable. Affordable. Student Housing

Exciting times for our University – and for the region.
Last week Premier Horgan and Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training were at UVic to break ground on long-awaited – and needed – new student housing and dining hall.
This is part of B.C.'s first-ever student housing initiative - developed to help meet a significant and long-standing need of students – while relieving some of the pressure on rental housing throughout the region. Nearly 800 UVic students will be able to make themselves at home on-campus by 2022.
Why now? What’s changed?
For many years public post-secondary institutions were asking for the ability to borrow to construct student housing; the previous government never approved the request. Our government saw the good sense in what post-secondary institutions were asking and created a $450M student housing loan program.  This enables public post-secondary institutions to borrow funds directly from the Provincial Treasury and construct student housing. 
Allowing institutions to borrow directly from the Province keeps borrowing costs low and that translates into lower, more affordable rental rates for students. The loans are repaid over time to the Province with interest. This is a win for students, a win for our public institutions, and a win for British Columbians.
Our government has made this long sought-after solution happen!
The project includes two new buildings with 783 student homes plus a dining hall and multipurpose space that can be used for conferences. While the project replaces some existing beds, it represents a net increase of 621 homes – a 25% increase in housing on the UVic campus. The first building is scheduled to start construction in late summer 2020 with completion in spring 2022.
This groundbreaking is an important milestone in fulfilling our government's commitment to build 5,000 new student housing spaces across the province. The UVic project is state-of-the-art sustainable housing – the first on-campus housing to use the Passive House construction standard, the primary aim of which is to achieve exceptional energy efficiency. Construction meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold and Passive House standards - the most rigorous global building standards for sustainability and energy efficiency – supporting government's CleanBC initiative.
This project represents a 25% increase of student housing on campus. It will include a rejuvenated outdoor area that connects the new housing and dining hall to the centre of campus, student group and study spaces, communal social spaces, laundry facilities and secure indoor bicycle storage. Plus a 600-seat dining hall, commercial kitchen, small grocery and new coffee shop to replace Cadboro Commons and provide more food offerings with healthy options (it’s all about the food for me!)
This is the first major capital project at UVic since a new Campus Plan was completed in January 2016.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Saanich South Update

Dear Saanich South,

The last few days have seen an uptick in new cases of COVID-19. This is not a reason to panic, but it is a good reminder that our work to flatten the curve is not done. While we enjoy summer and return to some of our favourite activities, we need to heed the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry.
  • Keep groups and gatherings small, and avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • Maintain 2m (6ft) distance between yourself and those outside your bubble
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Wear a mask when you can’t maintain physical distance – such as in stores or on transit
  • Stay home and self-isolate whenever you feel sick – even if your symptoms are mild
Remember that the more people you socialize with, the higher your risk of being exposed to and spreading COVID-19. Be responsible and socialize safety.

As we near the end of the summer legislative session, your BC New Democrat government has made a lot of progress on planning our economic recovery. We are working to build our economy, and our province, back even better than it was before, so that everyone will have a good job and a more secure future. But that recovery can only keep moving forward if we all continue to be safe and follow Dr. Henry’s advice.

Yesterday we announced more support for local governments and transit systems, with up to one billion dollars available from the Province to match a contribution by the federal government. This funding will ensure people can access the important services they need throughout our restart and recovery.

This past week, we announced even more new child care spaces across the province, bringing the total number of spaces our government has created to 16,800. These spaces will be vital as parents return to work or school.

We also announced new funding for search and rescue groups, recognizing the important role they play in keeping British Columbians safe.

In the last week we’ve announced that construction or planning is underway for new or expanded schools in Smithers, West Sechelt, Vernon and Langford. We also implemented our vaping action plan, to protect kids and teen from the risks of vaping and nicotine addiction.

We have accomplished a lot together, and there is still so much more to do.

As always, if you have any questions or need any assistance with provincial supports, please reach out. My office is currently open via phone and email to support you. You can reach us at 250-479-4154 or 

Stay well,

COVID Resources:
  • For medical info, visit or call 811
  • For provincial supports and BC’s Restart Plan, visit, call 1-888-COVID-19 (1-888-268-4319) or text 604-630-0300
  • For employer guidelines on returning to work safely, visit WorkSafeBC
  • Take the self-assessment at
  • For seniors looking for additional support, or for those looking to support seniors, call 2-1-1 or visit

Monday, July 27, 2020

Digital Marketing Bootcamp

Did you know that Saanich’s top occupations are health care, social assistance, and public administration? This sets Saanich South apart from the rest of the province where retail plays the leading role as a job creator. Saanich also enjoys a higher-than-average number of young workers. But sadly we’re learning now that the 18-29 year-old workforce has been the hardest hit with job losses and changes due to COVID-19.

That’s why this new initiative is particularly exciting for the residents of Saanich South.
The BC Government in partnership with Alacrity Canada has developed a new virtual Digital Marketing Bootcamp that will give people and businesses the tools they need to move online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This innovative and timely boot camp will provide participants with a foundation in digital marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, analytics, content marketing and more. With this knowledge, they will have the opportunity to work in a range of digital marketing positions that are important for businesses that sell online.

Digital commerce is becoming more common for businesses of all sizes as well as for not-for-profits. The skills participants gain will benefit small and medium-sized businesses as they expand their sales strategies to include a larger online presence.

This course is based on a pilot program that took place in late 2019 and early 2020. Almost 45 people participated in the pilot program, with a job placement rate of 85%. It will provide people with the training they need to get jobs  and businesses with the skilled employees they need to adjust and grow as our world shifts to a new normal.

There are up to 500 spaces available in the Digital Marketing Bootcamp. The boot camp is open to businesses and employed and unemployed British Columbians of any age, with priority given to employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19.

The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness is contributing $250,000 to cover the tuition costs for up to 250 participants from registered B.C.-based small- and medium-sized businesses, with a limit of one participant per business.

The Digital Marketing Bootcamp has an educational value of $6,000. The course cost has been reduced to approximately $1,200, which may be further reduced as more participants register.
For eligible individuals who are underemployed or unemployed British Columbians, additional financial support may be available to reduce the cost of participation.

Registration is open until July 31, 2020, with the course starting on Aug. 4, 2020. The course will run for six weeks. To register, visit:

The Digital Market Bootcamp is one way that the B.C. government is making sure people and businesses have the support they need to restart and rebuild an economy that works for everyone.

To register for the Digital Marketing Bootcamp, ask questions or get more information on possible financial support, visit Alacrity Canada:

(cover photo by Igor Miske)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Canada’s first Chinese Canadian Museum

 (photo attribution: MARELBU)
What a delight it is to have the oldest Chinatown in Canada right here in Victoria and know that our government is honouring and preserving the knowledge of the contributions of Chinese Canadians – contributions that are essential to our province – past and present. I am very pleased to be able to announce this during Chinese Cultural Heritage Week, July 20-27.

The B.C. government announced this week that they have invested $10 million to establish the Chinese Canadian Museum – the first in Canada. This investment includes $2 million to complete the planning and development and $8 million for an endowment to provide ongoing support. The museum includes a provincial hub in Vancouver Chinatown, multiple regional hubs and spokes throughout B.C. – including Victoria, and an online portal and digital experiences for historical locations throughout the province.

At at a critical point in history for conversations about race, inequality and injustice in this province. As Premier John Horgan said, “There really couldn’t be a better time to come together to share the stories about how our province got to where it is – and to have conversations about where we want it to go.”

The newly formed, independent, non-profit Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia will lead development and operation of the museum. The inaugural board has 20 members with a range of expertise, skills and experience and includes representatives from both the provincial government and the City of Vancouver. Grace Wong, former senior advisor international, University of British Columbia Office of Provost and Vice‐President Academic, is the chair of the society.

To kick-off the museum experience, the Chinese Canadian Museum Society is launching a temporary exhibit in Vancouver Chinatown at 27 E Pender St. in August. A Seat at the Table explores the history of Chinese immigration and how the communities were able to stay vibrant and resilient through the food and restaurant culture they brought to British Columbia. The exhibit is a partnership with the City of Vancouver, University of British Columbia and Museum of Vancouver.

The society has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the newly formed Victoria Chinatown Museum Society to be the first regional hub and launch a pocket gallery in Fan Tan Alley with the support of the Royal BC Museum. The pocket gallery is anticipated to open in time for the recognition of Chinese Cultural Heritage Week, July 20-27, 2020.

The funding delivers on the B.C. government’s commitment to establish a Chinese Canadian museum. It also reflects the memorandum of understanding signed between the Province and the City of Vancouver to pursue United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site Designation for Vancouver Chinatown and recognizes its global significance as a site of ongoing cultural and historic value. Following a public engagement in 2019, the Province provided a $1-million grant to the City of Vancouver to support planning, including opening a project office and pocket gallery in Vancouver Chinatown.

Looking for something new to do this summer? Visit Victoria Chinatown and learn more about the history of the Chinese Canadian community - where it happened!

You can find out more about Chinese Canadian Museum HERE (video) and HERE.

Find out more about Victoria’s amazing Chinatown HERE.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Community Safety & Crime Prevention Awards

(cover image by Joey Nicrotra)
Hey Saanich South,

We’re looking for some local heroes!

Each year the Ministry of Public Safety & Emergency Services recognizes individuals, groups and programs that have made outstanding contributions to crime prevention and community safety with the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards. Saanich is one of the safest communities in North America, so clearly somebody is doing something pretty amazing here in Saanich South!

Each year the awards go to crime prevention practitioners that have gone above and beyond, making a lasting difference in our communities. They have made the effort to understand the community’s needs, brought people and resources together to tackle problems, and followed through until results were achieved.

The award categories are:
  • Award of Distinction: honours the extraordinary lifetime contribution and commitment.
  • Youth Leadership Award: recognizes police officers, youth, and others who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to working with youth or youth themselves who work, in their communities.
  • Restorative Justice Memorial Award: recognizes a community-based restorative justice group or individual that has demonstrated a commitment to innovated partnerships that have advanced the work of restorative justice and brought caring and respectful service to victims, offenders and their communities.
  • Crime Prevention & Community Safety Award: recognizes exemplary leadership through developing innovative projects and key activities or initiatives to promote safe communities.
  • Services to Victims Award: recognizes exemplary leadership in providing services and supports to victims.
Last year’s recipients included the manager of a Community Safety organization, a victims’ rights advocate, a community justice trainer and facilitator, a community resource office that works with youths that are at-risk of or involved in criminal and gang activity, and a RCMP officer that specializes in crime prevention, and drug enforcement at the neighbourhood level.

The nominations for the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards are reviewed by representatives from the provincial Safe Communities Working Group (SCWG) – a coalition of provincial partners together with the common goal of keeping the Province’s communities safe.
The nomination process is simple. You’re asked to speak to the individual or organization’s dedication, commitment, perseverance and contribution. It’s not a writing contest – just let them know how amazing you feel your nominee is and why. Go online to complete the form HERE.

Nominations close on July 31

The award-winners are announced during Crime Prevention Week, held during the first week of November.

If you know of a person, or an organization in Saanich South that you feel is making a valuable contribution to the safety of our community – consider nominating them for the award! The community will be better for the recognition!

Stay safe Saanich South!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Fire at Strawberry Vale Elementary

I am writing to acknowledge the concerns of many regarding the recent fire at the Strawberry Vale Elementary School. The good news is that no-one was hurt!

This school is an important part of our community. It is understandable that students, parents, teachers and everyone who is part of the school community will have questions about what happens next.

It will take time to assess the damage and develop a plan for the upcoming school year but please know that I have reached out to my colleague Rob Fleming, the Minister of Education, to make sure that the Ministry is engaged and a plan is developed as quickly as possible.

I can confirm that the Ministry of Education and the School District are working on short-term measures to support students and educators until the repairs are complete.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

I want to take a moment to thank the Saanich Fire Department for their brave and quick work on containing this fire, and for their ongoing commitment to keep our community safe.

Warm Regards,

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Royal BC Museum

Although this photo is a few years old, it’s one of my favourites!

My son and I attended a fundraiser for the Royal BC Museum and we had the great pleasure of visiting with CEO Jack Lohman.

I absolutely love this Museum and so I was very excited when we heard from Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare today that it’s going to be 1/2 price all Summer!

Here is the announcement:

People from around British Columbia will be able to enjoy the wonders of the Royal BC Museum for less this summer.

“Now that we’re into Phase 3, I am encouraging British Columbians to explore the sights and attractions our province has to offer,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “To give people a safe, affordable, family-centred experience, we’re providing half-price entry to the Royal BC Museum all summer.”

Beare announced the extension of half-price admission through Sept. 7, 2020, while visiting with her family. She said she was impressed with the many safety measures in place to protect visitors while they enjoy the museum’s galleries.

“We’re pleased to welcome visitors back as we continue to reopen in stages in the coming months,” said Jack Lohman, CEO, Royal BC Museum. “As British Columbians explore their province this summer, they can feel confident the Royal BC Museum will provide them with an engaging, safe museum experience.”

The Royal BC Museum is reopening in phases to ensure people’s health and safety:
June 19: Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Natural History gallery opened
Aug. 1: The First Peoples gallery also opens
Sept. 7: Becoming BC gallery (full museum) opens
Since reopening to the public on June 19, 2020, more than 3,500 people have visited the Royal BC Museum.
Quick Facts:
The Royal BC Museum has taken steps to protect people’s health, including:
changing its hours of operation, including closing on Wednesdays, for enhanced cleaning;
reserving the first hour daily (10 to 11 a.m.) for visits by seniors, vulnerable people and first responders;
booking tickets with timed entries to space out people in the galleries; and
installing new signage and pathways to allow for physical distancing and flow.

Learn more about the museum’s new protocols and how to get a timed ticket:

Friday, June 26, 2020

Carefully into Phase 3

This week Premier Horgan and Dr. Henry announced that B.C. is now moving carefully into Phase 3 of our Restart Plan. This is the result of a lot of hard work, dedication and patience by everyone as we have followed the advice of our Provincial Health Officer over the last several months. You can find out more about Phase 3 HERE.

As we restart and begin to rebuild our economy, we are making sure that people and businesses have the support they need. There are bound to be some challenges along the way, but we are committed to keeping people safe and healthy, and helping them get back to work.

MLAs returned to the Legislature this week – some virtually, and some in person – to continue working on B.C.’s economic recovery. On Monday, our government announced that the pandemic supports for children with special needs and youth aging out of care will continue throughout the summer until September 30. This will help families and youth through this time of transition.

On Wednesday, we extended the eligibility for the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers to now include people whose jobs were impacted by COVID-19 as early as March 1, an additional two weeks from the original date of March 15. More information about this benefit can be found HERE.

We know that even before the pandemic, the economy wasn’t working for everyone. Nobody wants to go back to that. As we rebuild B.C.’s economy, we are making sure that our “new normal” won’t leave anyone behind. We will make sure those who were hit hardest by the pandemic – including Indigenous people, new Canadians, women, young people, and people earning less than $30/hour – get the support and opportunities they need. Everyone deserves the chance to learn, work, and build a secure future.

British Columbians are invited to share their input as the Province continues to build a strong economic recovery that works for people. I encourage you to have your say. You have until July 21st to share your ideas on B.C.’s economic recovery. Find out more HERE.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with provincial supports, please reach out. My office is currently open via phone and email to support you. You can reach us at 250-479-4154 or

Stay well,

Thursday, May 7, 2020

BC Restarts

BC's Restart Plan

On Wednesday May 6, Premier Horgan announced BC's Restart Plan. The Plan lays out a series of steps that we will take together to protect people and ensure that our province can come back from COVID-19 stronger than before.

Follow this link to BC's Restart Plan.

For small businesses that are looking for guidance in preparing to re-open for business, you'll find that the Small Business BC website continues to be a valuable resource.

Thank you for all that you are doing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Our government is working very hard to meet the needs of British Columbians during this unprecedented time. Our priority continues to be to protect British Columbians and ensure our province is best positioned to effectively respond to the pandemic.

Follow this link to BC's COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information.

The COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information site is updated regularly. It is easy to navigate and it's comprehensive. You'll find the health tools and information that you need, as well as financial and economic supports, education updates and child care info, the latest orders and protocols from our Provincial Health Officer, and much more. 

In addition, follow this link to the Federal Government supports.

While our office is not open for in-person meetings as part of managing the COVID-19 virus, we will continue to provide services for constituents via phone and email Monday through Thursday 9 am to 4 pm.

Stay safe. We're all in this together.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

COVID-19 Supports

COVID-19 Response

Thank you for all that you are doing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Our government is working very hard to meet the needs of British Columbians during this unprecedented time. Our priority is to protect British Columbians and ensure our province is best positioned to effectively respond to the pandemic.

Follow this link to BC's COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information

The COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information site is updated regularly. It is easy to navigate and it's comprehensive. You'll find the health tools and information that you need, as well as financial and economic supports, education updates and child care info, the latest orders and protocols from our Provincial Health Officer, and much more. 

In addition, follow this link to the Federal Government supports.

While our office is not open for in-person meetings as part of managing the COVID-19 virus, we will continue to provide services for constituents via phone and email Monday through Thursday 9 am to 4 pm.

Stay safe. We're all in this together.

Monday, March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Staying Safe

COVID-19 Update
UPDATED: March 27, 2020.
The BC Provincial government's latest statements and updates can be found here:

You'll find COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information HERE

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Saanich South Community Office & COVID19

Dear Saanich South Constituents

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saanich South constituency office will be closed to the public Monday March 16th until the pandemic situation becomes more positive.
My amazing constituency staff will continue working to support Saanich South, and can be reached via email or phone 9am – 4pm, Monday through Thursday.
As you can imagine our office is quite busy at this time so please leave a message if we do not pick and we will call you back - Saanich South Constituency Office 250-479-4154
We are monitoring the situation closely and will use current advice for public health best practices as it becomes available. While this is not our preferred way to operate our constituency office, we must do what is best for the health of our staff and community.
If you feel like you are having symptoms and may have been exposed to COVID-19, please call HealthLink BC, 8-1-1 or for the deaf and hard of hearing, call 7-1-1 to arrange for safe testing. 
811 is available in 131 different languages upon request and should be the first place anyone concerned about symptoms or questions should go.
Heathlink BC is also a good online resource:…/coronavirus-disease-covid-19

Thank you so much for your understanding, we will get through this together.

Lana Popham
MLA Saanich South

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Affordable Child Care

Child Care in Saanich South
Last week I was thrilled to stand with colleagues Minister of Education, Rob Fleming and Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development at Cordova Bay Elementary School as we announced 420 new childcare spaces for Greater Victoria. A total of 109 spaces will be in Saanich South at Cordova Bay, Marigold and Lochside elementary schools – plus – Saanich Neighbourhood Place is adding 49 spaces to its child care facility.

Learn More:

To find child care your community, view the online CHILD CARE MAP

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Knowing Tod Inlet

NEW! LARGER VENUE: First Unitarian Church 5575 West Saanich Rd in the Sanctuary

Please not that Minister Popham sends her regrets for his wonderful event. 
She is not able to be in attendance as the legislature is sitting at this time.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sock Drive in Saanich South

Winter Socks for Everyone!
Last week was Groundhog Day – the day we turn to a rodent for weather wisdom. Marmots, groundhogs – same species so it makes sense for us to take Van Isle Violet's winter prediction over an east-coast rodent of another name. Sadly she decided that we will in fact enjoy another six-weeks of winter bliss. For the more science-minded among us, Environment Canada has been hinting about white stuff in our near future as well. Either way we are reminded that winter is still upon us, and sadly, its wrath is not over, not is it shared equally.

What more cold and wet means for some may be quite different than what it means to the more vulnerable members of our community. Warm, and dry can be a huge challenge for those that are living in the rough – and feet can be particularly vulnerable.

That's why we're once again asking the public to consider donating a pair – or four – of new,
adult socks. So that we might see that all of us are at lease somewhat warm and dry, until the spring takes over.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Saanich Star - Parminder Virk

There are many Saanich South stars in our incredible community. But one who shines especially bright, and who I want to tell you a bit more about, is the amazing Parminder Virk!

Parminder lives and breathes community service, and is absolutely committed to making our home a more inclusive and welcoming place for all who live here – including newcomers to Canada and to BC. 

Parminder is especially active in the Victoria Indo-Canadian Community, and her impact here is impressive. The founder of the Victoria Dian Punjabana Group, Parminder organizes countless events that bring our community closer together and celebrate the strength and diversity of our community. Just recently she was the driving force behind the Lohri Dinner and Dance at Commonwealth Place, which well over 250 people attended!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hardest Working MLA of the Year

What a great way to start 2020!

My sincerest gratitude to the Times Colonist’s readership for this award.  I’m so grateful to be recognized for my efforts in this way. 

Helping people is the top priority of this government, and of my community office. We are working hard to make life more affordable, more fair, and better for British Columbians.

Whether we’re tackling poverty, un-affordability, the housing crisis, affordable child care, climate change, or moving the dial on medical service wait times and finding primary care doctors – we are working hard.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Open House & Art Show

Thanks to everyone who made it through the sudden storm to come out to my Saanich South Holiday Open House! We had an amazing art show by Saanich South artist Chin Yuen and lots of delicious local treats! 
Thanks to my incredible team at the office Maureen RogersMichele Murphy and Chris Wieczorek for getting it all organized!
It was wonderful to have my office overflowing with so many friends!
We also had a sock drive and collected tons of socks that will be distributed to folks in need, living on the streets downtown.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Chin Yuen Art Show
Join me as we celebrate the changing season with hot apple cider and sweets surrounded by the amazing work of international award-winning Saanich South contemporary artist Chin Yuen.

Chin will be in attendance. 

Born in Malaysia, Chin studied in Singapore and England before moving to Canada for further education. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a Master of Arts from UVic. After graduation, Chin moved to Japan and Italy, where she taught English and Fine Arts for several years before returning home to Canada. Yuen continues to travel extensively for work and pleasure. She sees her diverse cultural exposures as an artistic asset that, combined with her love of imaginative inventions, inspires and shapes her creations.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Global Climate Strike
This Friday we will see youth and adults around the world take part in a Global Climate Strike. This will mark a moment in history where our fears of the future and our hope for change merge together in a united cry. These precious hours where people will unite will be a chance for many to use their voice to communicate with leaders around the world, and for others to stand in support of those voices.

I have been an environmentalist and an ardent food security champion most of my life. What has fuelled my work has been my deep belief that climate change will affect our food systems around the globe and my time and effort should be spent trying as hard as I can to support a sustainable food system here in B.C. in order to create some resiliency.  It’s not hard to see that agriculture is already being affected around the globe. Soils are eroding due to drought and misuse, crops are failing because of changing weather patterns, pests are migrating and threatening new areas of food production, and food insecurity is on the rise.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Alex and Jo Campbell Centre for Wellness and Health at Camosun College Interurban
This September I had the honour of officially opening the new Alex and Jo Campbell Centre for Wellness and Health at Camosun College Interurban as the MLA for Saanich South. I then stood shoulder-to-shoulder with an incredible team of visionary ribbon-cutters. I was so proud to be a part of it. The day also served as a great reminder to me of why it’s so important to believe in and support British Columbians all across our province.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

 Keating X Rd. Flyover Overpass
This month's announcement about a permanent fix to the dangerous left turn onto Keating Cross Road from the Pat Bay Highway is welcome news.

If you’ve lived in Saanich South for even a small amount of time, you know how essential the Pat Bay Highway is. It is our link to the ferries, the airport, many of our homes, and the businesses we cherish throughout the Saanich Peninsula – including the Keating Cross Road area. Because the Pat Bay Hwy is such a vital connector it is essential that it is safe and comfortable to navigate. But what I’ve heard from constituents time and again is that they did not feel safe making the left turn onto Keating Cross Road. They found crossing two oncoming traffic lanes from a dead stop nerve-wracking. Equally, cars travelling southbound need to be hyper-aware of cars who are trying to make the turn. I’ve heard from some constituents that they stopped going to local businesses on Keating Cross Road because they were afraid of the drive.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A driver's medical fitness plays a key role in a person's ability to navigate the roads safely – as well as the public’s safety. The primary tool used to assess whether a driver is medically fit to drive is the Driver’s Medical Examination Report (DMER). This report is completed by a physician or nurse practitioner providing information for RoadSafetyBC Driver Medical Fitness staff in their assessment of the severity, progression, treatment or effects of any medical condition(s) that the driver may have that could affect their fitness to drive.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Keeping' Seniors on the Move!
Edited July 29, 2019: We understand that with a driver's license can come a feeling of autonomy, independence, a certain freedom, and often great joy. It doesn't matter if you're 16, 46 or 86 - the feelings are so often the same. The difference is that at 46 - we take it for granted that we are fit and allowed to drive. Not-so-much at 16 or 86 though.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

BCTESG - $1200 Grant
Are you a parent or a guardian of a child born in 2006 – or 2010 or later?

Did you know that there’s a $1200 education savings grant available for kids between the ages of 6 and 9 years old (plus the 2006 kids)?

It’s true – and 40% of families aren’t taking advantage of it.

It’s called the BC Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) – and it could make a huge difference in your child’s life.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Old Growth Forests
One of the many things that connects me to my constituency is shared values and the passion that we have for issues that arise from those values. Saanich Southites are an informed, passionate and engaged constituency of people. It's why I feel at home here, it's why I connect with this community so deeply.

Many of our shared values are around equality, dignity and respect. Respect for each other, and for our earth.

It is with these shared values as guides that we, as government, create policies and make decisions that affect an entire province of families, and ultimately generations of people. It is these shared values that we hold dear in our approach to protecting biodiversity and managing our amazing old growth forests. Values that we must balance as we care for our earth and while we ensure that workers and communities are supported.

And, Saanich South, I have heard from many of you that you are concerned about this balance. I hear you when you say that you understand that we have an industry, communities and families that have been neglected for far too long and need our support, and, as well, I hear that you treasure our old-growth forests, as I do, and that we have a duty to protect the precious bio-regions that we are the custodians of.

I have heard you, and we're still listening.

Our government is working to protect much of the old growth on the Coast, in the Great Bear Rainforest and on Vancouver Island. On the Island there are about 520,000 hectares of old growth forests that will not be logged (the equivalent of over 1,700 Cathedral Groves). Our old growth forests are protected in parks and other protected areas, wildlife habitat areas and old growth management areas. Old growth management areas are designated specifically to protect the biodiversity found in old growth ecosystems.

The previous BC Liberal government cut the Forest Service, and allowed the export of raw logs to skyrocket. Part of our strategy includes increasing monitoring, modernizing management practices, and ensuring we are getting more value out of every log. The forest sector is vital to the economy of Vancouver Island, generating more than 24,000 direct jobs and $3.1 billion in gross domestic product. We have just seen several hundred workers lose their jobs in the Interior, in part due to lack of logs. A moratorium would ultimately lead to more job loss on Vancouver Island. Ending logging in all old growth forests on Vancouver Island would shut down the forest industry. Lumber from old growth trees is used to make value-added wood products, such as doors, mouldings, flooring, and decking. Products made from old-growth timber are valued for their strength (tight grain) and beauty.

We believe we can find a balance between protecting the health and sustainability of our forests, and ensuring a robust forest industry that supports good-paying jobs for people across BC.

BC Timber Sales has plans to log less than 900 hectares of old growth forests on Vancouver Island this year.  The estimate of 8,800 hectares released by Sierra Club is not accurate.  BC Timber Sales has published preliminary maps in areas they intend to log over the next 10 to 15 years.  These are NOT final cutblocks or timber sale licences. The actual areas to be logged will be much smaller as plans are developed.

In BC, we plant three trees for each one that is harvested - and young trees can often take up carbon faster than mature stands. Over time, companies will need to transition to second-growth stands, but that can’t happen overnight. To begin with, there is limited second-growth available on the island, and harvesting those stands too early would mean in the next decade or two we would be facing timber shortages again. A second consideration is that most mills on the island are set up to process larger logs. Re-tooling those mills to process smaller logs would be costly and can’t be done overnight.

We're working on it, and it takes time. 

While ensuring supply is one component of stabilizing the economic situation, our government is also looking at changes to practices that will make better use of materials. This could make hundreds of thousands or even millions of cubic metres of fibre available to small producers and pulp mills - creating and sustaining small producer jobs.The San Group has communicated its plan to build a new mill in the Port Alberni area, which would process second growth logs.

Achieving that balance is key.

Right now we are working on a new old growth strategy. Initial amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act passed in the spring. These amendments protect endangered plant communities from logging. Public engagement on a second set of changes to the act began in late May, with the amendments likely to be introduced in 2020.

Public Engagement

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is conducting a Review of the Private Managed Forest Land Program (also known as the Managed Forest Program). The review is one of several policy reforms announced as part of the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative.

The review will examine how well the Private Managed Forest Land Program is meeting its goals to:
  • encourage private landowners to manage their lands for long-term forest production, and 
  • encourage sustainable forest management practices, including the protection of key public environmental values.
Public participation was invited in a couple of ways - an online survey and written submissions. The opportunity for public comment ended in July. Input received from the engagement process is an important part of the ministry’s review of the program. To determine where the program is most effective, and if improvements are needed, the ministry wishes to understand the different views and concerns of all British Columbians. The ministry plans to develop recommendations for fall 2019.
We also reached out to the forest and range industry, communities and organizations for their feedback on how we improve legislation on sustainably managing our forests and rangelands.

The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) governs the sustainable management of B.C.’s public forest and range resources. It covers planning and practices that protect environmental resources and public safety, as well as public oversight and administrative fairness for those who hold rights to forest and range resources.

Together, the Act and its regulations are the foundation for competitive forest and ranching industries, partnerships with Indigenous peoples, and stability for forestry and ranching-dependent communities.
We want to improve the legislation to ensure it will continue to sustainably manage our forests and rangelands. Guiding principles for proposed changes include putting the resiliency of the land first, public trusts, reconciliation with Indigenous Nations, scientific knowledge as well as flexibility.

Forest and range industry, communities and organizations provided written comments through stakeholder submissions.  Feedback was be accepted through mid July, 2019. 

Feedback from the engagement process will inform changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations that are planned over the next two years. A What We Heard Report will summarize comments received and be publicly available in fall 2019. We will post a link to that report as it becomes available this fall.

Currently there is an open call for input on Interior Forest Renewal – Forest Policy Initiative. That consultation process closes October 11, 2019.  I invite you to visit the engagement site for more info on how to provide input on a plethora of government policy consultations: HERE.

Your government is trying to achieve a balance that works for all British Columbians - based on our shared values. We know there is still a lot of work to do, and we’re committed to moving forward and doing more to protect our old growth forests. 

Please stay engaged, informed, and in touch.

UPDATED: Aug 8, 2019

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

How does the Budget get put together? Is there an opportunity for input?

The answer to that is YES! 

And - this year that opportunity is earlier than it has been in the past.
Our government wants to make sure that we include the input that we'll receive from British Columbians when we're making the decisions that we need to make around Budget 2020 and to do so, we need to hear from you, earlier.

Here's how it works...

A parliamentary committee of the legislative assembly, called The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, annually invites British Columbians to share their priorities and ideas for the next provincial budget. This process is meant to ensure that the priorities of the people of BC are included in the decisions that this government makes around financial priorities.

While the consultation has in the past taken place in the fall, this year it will take place in the summer to enable the committee to deliver its report earlier in the budget process. As such, the process opened on Monday, June 3, 2019. 
"Every year, the committee hears diverse perspectives and suggestions on a number of topics," said Bob D'Eith, committee chair. "Moving the consultation to June will allow for more time to review and consider this input and the recommendations put forward by the committee."

There are many opportunities and ways to participate. All BCers are encouraged to take part and share their views on the issues affecting their families and communities. That's individual citizens - like you - or larger groups from schools, neighbourhoods, communities, causes or organizations.

British Columbians can provide their input in several ways - whatever is most convenient and comfortable. We want to make this an inclusive process. It is, after all, your Budget!

You can submit input by speaking with the committee in-person or via teleconference at a public hearing; by providing a written, audio or video submission; or simply by filling out an online survey. HERE is the link for submission info.

Public hearings are being held all over the province. The public hearing for the Capital Region will be held in Colwood  on Monday June 10, 2019 from 8:45 am - 4:00 pm in the City of Colwood Council Chambers at 3300 Wishart Road. 

Registration for public hearings is open now via the committee's website HERE

Teleconference opportunities and interpretive services can be requested by calling 250 356-2933 or 1 877 428-8337 (toll-free in B.C.).

The deadline for all input is Friday, June 28, 2019, at 5 p.m. (Pacific time). The committee intends to release its report in late July or early August.

The members of the committee are:
  • Bob D'Eith, MLA Maple Ridge-Mission (chair)
  • Dan Ashton, MLA Penticton (deputy chair)
  • Doug Clovechok, MLA Columbia River-Revelstoke
  • Rich Coleman, MLA Langley East
  • Mitzi Dean, MLA Esquimalt-Metchosin
  • Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA Courtenay-Comox
  • Nicholas Simons, MLA Powell River-Sunshine Coast
AND -  this is the first year that BC Government has multiple languages provided for 2020 budget consultation papers.  See HERE for non-English documents.

It's YOUR Budget - get involved and have your say!