Sunday, April 14, 2019

Celebrating Provincial Funding for the Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara!









I was so happy to join my Government colleagues Premier John Horgan, Minister Carole James, Minister Rob Fleming, Parliamentary Secretary MLA Ravi Kahlon and Parliamentary Secretary MLA Mitzi Dean at the temple today to be part of an announcement of a $1-million grant from the Province for accessibility and kitchen facility upgrades that will help the Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society (KDS) Gurdwara better serve people in Greater Victoria. 

“The historic Topaz Sikh Gurdwara is an important part of the Greater Victoria community and provides a welcoming place for people of all faiths,” said Premier John Horgan. “In the spirit of Vaisakhi and the Sikh practice of sewa, or selfless community service, this funding will allow the temple to make much-needed upgrades so that it can keep serving thousands of people each year.”

The KDS Gurdwara (temple) opened in 1912 in Victoria and is one of the two oldest operating Gurdwaras in North America. It requires upgrades to meet modern accessibility standards and the needs of a growing and aging community.

The gurdwara provides a place for people to gather for community celebrations and prayer services. It also serves vegetarian lunches to thousands of people of all religions, cultures and nationalities throughout the year. The temple is an important place for children and youth to connect with their culture and receive support from other members of the community, including the more than 300 seniors who attend the temple regularly.

“The Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society has been providing services to people in Greater Victoria for more than 100 years and we want to help them continue to reach out to everyone,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “The gurdwara is in dire need of upgrades to the facilities and this grant will improve accessibility and ensure it can continue to welcome people from Victoria and around the world.”
The provincial grant, distributed through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, will support accessibility and safety upgrades to the gurdwara’s kitchen, common areas, main entrances and outdoor decks.


Quick Facts:
In 2012, the KDS Gurdwara celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The gurdwara currently serves more than 600 meals, free of charge, to people in need in downtown Victoria each weekend.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing distributed end-of-year contingency grants for 2018-19 for infrastructure projects in four B.C. communities.
In order to access this one-time grant funding, eligible organizations submitted proposals detailing the scope of their project, budget breakdowns and how the funding would meet the needs of their community
B.C. is home to one of the largest Sikh populations outside India.

Saturday, April 13, 2019


Opening the 2019 Little League Season in Style 

It was a double header of opening days in Saanich South on Saturday!

The rain didn't stop Lakehill Ball from their 2019 opening ceremonies this morning as the park filled with excited players, families and fans – including me! 

But it's nit just great ball and community that make Lakehill such a great place to be. Tucked away on Ambassador Ave, Lakehill Ball Park is also home to a not-so-well keep burger secret – Chef Dave's Dugout Concession...which I declared the best concession in British Columbia! Just look at that menu! Sixty years of volunteering has kept this park thriving.
It was great to be invited to participate at the opening ceremonies again with Saanich Councillor Susan Brice! We have been opening Lakehill Baseball together for years. It was a great way to start a Saturday!




My next stop was Layritz Little League's season opener – with another excited crowd of fans! The rain started pelting down as Mayor Fred Haynes and I each threw opening pitches. I'm happy to say no children were injured!  

The excitement for the season couldn't be dampened by the weather, and neither could the excitement for 2020! 

Layritz will be hosting the Canadian National Championships in 2020 and it’s a pretty big deal! If you’re interested in getting involved or becoming a sponsor more info is available HERE.


DID YOU KNOW: The land for Layritz park was donated by Richard Layritz in 1953. He wanted it to be used specifically for kids to play. Decades later I'm pretty sure he would be super proud of how the community has embraced his dream.









Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Renovation this year? Check out the incentives for energy efficient home upgrades, as well as tax credits for home improvements for seniors and persons with disabilities.


Thinking Energy-efficiency?

Clean BC and Budget 2019 have brought in incremental support for increasing the energy-efficiency of BC homes.


EfficiencyBC is a new Provincial program offering financial incentives, information and support to help households and businesses save energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by switching to high-efficiency heating equipment and making building-envelope improvements. The $24M program is co-funded with the federal government under the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.

Examples of qualifying renovations or alterations:
  • Heat Pump and Electric Water Heaters*
  • Natural Gas Furnaces, Boilers, Fireplaces and Water Heaters
  • Windows and doors
  • Insulation

You'll find what incentives and support are available to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in new and existing homes and buildings at the following websites:

Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) funded programs:

Utility Energy Efficiency Programs
*Bonus! - Saanich is offering a Heat Pump Top-Up (Limited time-offer) Find out more HERE

Thinking Safety, Utility & Comfort?

The Home Renovation Tax Credit for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities can offer financial assistance to homeowners wanting to make their home more comfortable - and safe. The renovation assistance is intended to help seniors or persons with a disability improve access to the home or land, improve mobility and functions within the home or land, and reduce the risk of harm within the home or land. 

Examples of qualifying renovations or alterations:
  • Bathtubs – walk-in
  • Counters/cupboards – lowering existing ones
  • Counters/cupboards – installing adjustable ones
  • Door locks that are easy to operate
  • Doors that are widened for passage
  • Drawers and cupboards – touch-and-release
  • Flooring – non-slip or to allow the use of walkers or wheelchairs
  • General renovation costs – necessary to enable access for seniors or
    persons with disabilities to first-floor or secondary suites
  • Grab bars and related reinforcements around the toilet, tub and shower
  • Hand-held showers on adjustable rods or high-low mounting brackets
  • Hand rails in corridors
  • Lever handles on doors and taps, instead of knobs
  • Light fixtures throughout the home and exterior entrances
  • Light switches and electrical outlets placed in accessible locations
  • Lighting – motion-activated
  • Pull-out shelves under counter to enable work from a seated position
  • Showers – wheel-in
  • Sinks – alterations to allow use from a seated position
    (and insulation of any hot-water pipes)
  • Swing clear hinges on doors to widen doorways
  • Taps – hands-free
  • Taps – relocation to front or side for easier access
  • Toilets – raised
  • Wheelchair ramps, stair/wheelchair lifts and elevators
You can find all the details on the BC Government Website: HERE

Some restrictions apply to all grants, incentives and rebates. See the associated websites for full details. This post is meant as general information and not an offer of any kind.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Important Information on Vaccines

Immunize your kids! The goal is to immunize as many people as possible before the end of the school year. The purpose, ultimately, is to reach an immunization rate of 95% as recommended.
I admire very much the work my colleague Minister of Health Adrian Dix is doing on the immunization file. He is launching a measles immunization catch-up program to help B.C. families ensure their children are protected from measles.The program will run from April through June 2019.
"With outbreaks of measles occurring globally and here in B.C., we know we will see threats of further outbreaks and can be doing more to raise immunization rates," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "That is why we are launching a catch-up program to immunize children from kindergarten to Grade 12 who have not previously been immunized against measles and to provide a dose for those who may not have received both doses.
Health authorities will deliver the program. The program will be made available in schools to children (from kindergarten to Grade 12), public-health units, community health centres and mobile community clinics in select regions. The program will be delivered similarly with some regional variations. By offering it in schools, public-health units and community health centres, the catch-up program is designed to make it simpler and stress-free for parents to ensure their children are adequately protected from measles. Pharmacists will also be part of the efforts to increase immunization rates.
"Safeguarding the health and well-being of children, staff and teachers who come into our classrooms and their family members at home is one of our highest priorities," said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. "The K-12 education system plays a critical role in raising awareness of the importance of childhood vaccines and increasing immunization rates. We are continuing to work across government, and with our education and health community partners, to help curb preventable outbreaks and increase student safety."
For this catch-up campaign, the Province is initially purchasing $3 million in vaccine - the equivalent of a one year supply of vaccine.
The catch-up program is the first step in government's two-phase plan to educate people about the importance of immunization and help them become aware of their immunization status. Offering the measles immunization catch-up program now will also help prepare parents for the mandatory reporting of vaccination status, which is planned for the fall of 2019.


https://immunizebc.ca/?fbclid=IwAR3UENiZweVnUTRGvbLyDHpLlH4SheVnGJK-91ezjvsnr6TMlHZH_4APdf0

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Saanich Fire Department Unveils Centennial Truck!






In case you didn’t know, 2019 is Saanich Fire Department’s Centennial Year!!

100 years of keeping Saanich safe is definitely a legacy to be proud of and celebrate, and today the Department unveiled their Centennial Fire Engine to celebrate! As you can see, they’ve wrapped Engine No. 1 with photos from their first year of service, and on the other side are photos that are just
a bit more up-to-date!


I’m in Vancouver today to participate in the BC Tech Summit, but staff from my community office had a great time attending! Many thanks to Chief Burgess for his opening remarks and to Mayor Fred Haynes for his speech! I’m looking forward to celebrating this historic year at more upcoming events!



Monday, March 4, 2019

Claremont Musical Theatre Production starts soon!



Claremont High School’s Musical "The Addams Family" is opening on March 7th! The show runs nightly from March 7 – March 9, and again from March 13 – March 16 at 7 pm! There are also additional 1 pm matinees on March 9 and 16th! I know that everyone has been putting in a lot of work to make the production a success, and I’d encourage you to check it out if you can! Tickets are available by calling 250 658 6672.



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Government takes action to strengthen consumer protections


Today our government announced more measures to strengthen consumer protections and improve affordability for BC’s most financially vulnerable people.

Over the last few years, I’ve unfortunately heard from too many constituents who were living paycheque to paycheque, and who were sometimes forced to seek high-cost loans to pay for unexpected or emergency expenses. These loans from alternative lenders often came with terms and conditions that were almost impossible to meet, ensnaring folks in a negative feedback loop of debt payments and increasing interest charges.

Our government has already introduced tougher rules on payday loans and cheque-cashing fees, and the new regulatory framework announced today provides stronger protections and safeguards for folks using these services, including set limits on the total cost of borrowing, creating borrowers’ rights and remedies, and prohibiting certain fees and chargers. There’s also an educational component so folks can be more informed when they choose to borrow money.

More information about the proposed changes is available here: 

And for more info about borrowing money in general, click here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/borrowing-money

Friday, February 22, 2019

BC Ferry Rates Remain Frozen!


Great news today for folks who rely on BC Ferries to get to Vancouver, Gabriola, Salt Spring, or any number of other beautiful destinations in our province: fares will be frozen for the second year in a row!

This announcements builds on government's previous work to reduce fares on smaller routes by 15 percent, and to bring back the Monday-Thursday 100% discount for seniors last April.

And the good news keeps rolling in: the BC Government is also moving to increase service on 10 ferry routes that were cut in 2014, restoring 2,700 round-trip sailings this coming year!

The ship is definitely turning around thanks to government's action, and it's now going full steam ahead! In fact, the Province announced today that it will be amending the Coastal Ferry Act to ensure that the ferry model is putting people who rely on the service first.

More information is available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019TRAN0019-000257

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fun Activities for Family Day!


Pssst…. Family Day is coming up this Monday! Not sure how to spend the day? There are a bunch of amazing things in and around Saanich to take advantage of! The BC Government is funding free admission to one of my favourite places ever: The Royal BC Museum! AND they have a new Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit that just opened, and you can visit any time from 10 am to 5 pm! The Arts Centre at Cedar Hill Rec is also having a free Family Day Festival from 11 am to 3 pm with a wide variety of activities led by staff and guests from the Victoria art community! And for good measure, Saanich Commonwealth Place also has a bunch of activities, including fun swims from 10-12 and from 1-4 with a special family rate. No matter how you choose to spend the day I hope it’s filled with rest and relaxation!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Happy Year of the Pig!

It was bright, brisk and beautiful in downtown Victoria today!! I was joined by my colleagues Carole James, Rob Fleming and Mitzi Dean as we visited folks in Chinatown and celebrated the Year of the Pig at the Lion Dance Parade! Thanks to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and all the amazing volunteers for their work in putting this wonderful event on!







Monday, February 4, 2019

Monthly Micro-Action: Reuse, Repurpose and Get Your Craft On!

*MLA’s note* I’m so pleased to introduce Laska Paré - one of our amazing constituents in Saanich South, and a monthly guest blogger on my website. Laska provides tips on subtle changes we can make day-to-day to live more sustainably. Read on below to find out more! -Lana

I love crafting. It’s an opportunity to focus all my attention on a project in a quiet, contained environment and create a masterpiece! It’s also the perfect opportunity to get my imagination and inspiration pumps flowing without breaking a sweat. Though I do love a good workout, sometimes you just need to create something with your hands and feel really good about it.

When I started leaning into a zero-waste lifestyle, I became more conscious of a product’s life-cycle. While diverting material from the landfill is a good thing, I questioned some of the materials in my craft kit and was worried these materials were doing more harm to the environment and I would have to STOP crafting.

Cue sad emoji. ☹

Instead of seeing this as a set back, I decided to utilize my environmental awareness to come up with unique craft creations.

Turns out, there are a lot of materials I can use without producing waste, and here are a few suggestions:

1. Use materials found in nature like shells, seed pods, leaves, nuts, dried flowers and pebbles.

2. Use new materials that are made from nature like jute, cotton, cellophane, cardboard, metal and glass.

3. Reuse and repurpose materials obtained second-hand.

You’d be surprised how much of a rush you get out of finding something natural and turning it into something completely different that looks expensive. Behold my most recent creation, a Beachwood wreath!


Micro-Actions For February

Now it’s your turn to experiment! Both children and adults can benefit from crafting – science indicates there are numerous health and mental benefits – and collecting materials directly from nature is one way to do that. It also helps you avoid single-use packaging, which can be tricky when making purchases from a store.

The best news?

You don’t have to compromise your crafting passion or the environment’s health.

Laska

Friday, February 1, 2019

Tackling the Root Causes of Poverty


Recently, I’ve had conversations with my constituents in Saanich South about the causes of poverty in a province that’s as lucky as ours. After years of neglect under previous governments, it’s shocking to learn that our province has the second-worst poverty rate in Canada. And even sadder is that 20 percent of those living in poverty are children.

These are more than just numbers – they’re peoples lives.

Unfortunately, for sixteen years life got harder under the previous government. Housing prices skyrocketed, calls to raise welfare rates were ignored, and life became less affordable.

We're doing our level best to change that. Last fall, our New Democrat government passed historic legislation that set bold poverty reduction targets. We’ve taken significant action already to reduce poverty. We’ve announced record funding for affordable housing and childcare, have over 2,000 modular homes under construction, and cut MSP premiums in half.

We know that poverty can negatively impact health and education outcomes, creating a negative feedback loop that can be incredibly difficult to break. But by investing in children and their families, we’re working to break the cycle that keeps people impoverished from one generation to the next. When you invest in children, you lift up their entire family – and their future.

We know there’s more work to do. Our Poverty Reduction Strategy will be released in the coming weeks, and we’ve committed to reducing the overall poverty rate by 25 percent, and the child poverty rate by 50 percent, in the next five years.

For the first time, BC has targets and timelines in place to hold government accountable for reducing poverty. That’s a huge and important step forward. The work has only just begun, but I’m proud of the work our government is doing to create a more equitable province for all British Columbians.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Fantastic News for Fair PharmaCare!



One of the things I’ve heard too often from families is that needed prescriptions were going unfilled because Fair PharmaCare deductibles were too high. That’s why I’m proud that our government has made the first ever changes to Fair PharaCare deductibles and co-payments since the program was created 15 years ago!

This is a long-overdue step that will improve the lives and health of folks in Saanich South, and BCers across the province. We’re investing $105 million so that households earning up to $30,000 in net income no longer have a deductible, and households earning under $45,000 now have a lowered deductible as well. Deductibles are also completely eliminated for seniors born before 1940 with an annual net income up to $14,000.

Frankly, no one should have to make the decision between their family’s health and putting food on the table or buying school supplies. With these new changes families will save more throughout the year, so that they can focus on the things that really matter.  

To learn more about Fair PharmaCare – including the enrollment process, which is super easy! – visit the following link: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/who-we-cover/fair-pharmacare-plan

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Monthly Micro-Action: Plan Ahead

*MLA’s note* I’m so happy to introduce Laska Paré! Laska is one of our amazing constituents in Saanich South, and is also a monthly guest blogger on my website! She writes about tips on small changes we can make in our day-to-day lives to encourage us to live more sustainably. Read on below to find out more! -Lana  
I used to see carrying my recycling to the curb as an opportunity to look at my waste and consider alternatives. However, recently I’ve found myself noting how many things in the blue box aren’t mine. As a single woman living by herself, it was easy to say ‘no’ to unnecessary purchases. But now that I have a partner and a dog in the home, I find myself saying ‘yes’ to sales on chicken breasts, even if it includes more packaging.

#ZeroWasteFail

So my circumstances have changed and I’m no longer the only planeteer under my roof. But that doesn’t mean I can’t grow my squad! After all, we all need to do our part to keep the pale blue dot we call home healthy. 


In looking at my waste, I realized that no one person was to blame, and most of it was the result of poor planning.

I sat my family down and noted my waste observations and what we could do to reduce not only our waste but how we could save time and money.

We decided to do a meal plan and plan all our meals for the week.

The result?

Not only did this give us a clear outline of our week – allowing for more productive days and relaxing evenings after work – we saved money, we saved time (taking less trips to the grocery store) and could ensure each of our meals were wholesome and nourishing.

Micro-Actions For January

Plan ahead!

Even if your life isn’t conducive to the zero-waste lifestyle (yet), use the New Year as an opportunity get into the habit of planning ahead. Whether that means packing your lunch for work, building in more travel time if you choose to walk instead of drive, or making sure to pack reusable bags with you for the grocery – learning to anticipate your needs, and taking the time to do so will help you manage your time better and be more organized!

Laska

Monday, January 14, 2019

One of my favourite events of the New Year is coming up!

It's not all about chucking frozen salmon in a creek, but I'm not going to lie, that part is really fun!
It's a great experience and it's exceptionally important work!  
On Saturday January 26th, 2019 at 10:30 am the Mount Douglas Park Society is hosting it's seasonal salmon carcass transplant!    
Thanks to the Howard English Hatchery volunteers at Goldstream who will bring approximately 100 salmon carcasses - partially thawed! - which will be tossed into 
Douglas Creek. 
This transplant mimics the results of a large return of salmon to Douglas Creek. The carcasses will decompose into the aquatic ecosystem delivering marine derived nutrients to riparian vegetation and invertebrate populations thus setting up the system for productive trophic webs. 
Additionally, there will be transplanting of both Coho and chum fry!
Also Saanich Parks will have plants ready for riparian restoration planting. 
Wear rain gear, or old clothing, and rubber boots if you have them. they will supply cotton gloves. 
This is a great event for children, but the creek banks are muddy, slippery and steep and the creek can be dangerous at high flows.  Each child under 16 must be accompanied by their parents. 

Thanks to everyone for all of their hard work and commitment! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!



Wishing you, your family, and your friends a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019! I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will have in store for us! 

-Lana 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Holiday Open House a Huge Success!

I had an amazing time at our annual Holiday Open House last night!! Thanks so much to everyone who was able to take the time to join us, and best wishes to you and your family for great holiday season!

-Lana





Saturday, December 1, 2018

Monthly Mico-Action: Reflection

MLA's note: Laska is one of our fabulous Saanich South constituents, and she's also a guest blogger! Each month she provides a tip - or "micro-action" about how we can waste less and re-use more. Read on to find out what she has in store for this month! 
December is a great month for reflection; a time to measure progress throughout the year and check direction for the future; making sure you’re on course with what’s most important to you. It’s also a holiday season which typically means holiday traditions.

Traditions are important because they connect people to behaviors or beliefs with origins in the past. As sacred as traditions may seem, sometimes traditions can become stressful and one loses the sense of purpose behind them. But it’s the purpose that connects us, not the tradition. As we evolve so do our circumstances, our identities and our values, so naturally it's healthy to question the usefulness and purpose of rituals as we learn to be more environmentally friendly and support a sustainable existence for the long term.

Below are some traditional holiday rituals and suggestions for creating fresh new traditions that are simpler and more sustainable.

1. Keep the tradition of connection with family members and friends alive with digital holiday cards — no paper required. Send e-invites to your holiday parties and easily manage RSVPs. This option helps save trees, time and money.

2. Big family celebrations can be stressful enough without leaving stacks of dishes and linens to be done making disposal dishware seem like the best choice. I get it. But instead of looking at it as a chore, see cleaning up as another activity to do together as a family and coordinate it with music and dance. Why not load the dishwasher, put away clean items, or fold napkins to the sweet sounds of Michael Jackson. The kids will love it!

3. Gift wrapping. I know, this one can be tough. Especially if you enjoy coordinating the stickers, tags, ribbons and paper. I know I do! Enjoy the challenge of making beautiful packages from castoff materials. Brown paper with baker’s twine topped with a holly or twig is cheery, seasonal and compostable.

4. Conscious shopping. So many gifts out there are more packaging than they are gift, and the packaging is going to be thrown away. While Amazon is enticing (and convenient) consider supporting your local economy and buying a gift from a local retailer. And if you need to mail a gift to a friend or family member, a great option are e-gift certificates or actual gift certificates. They physically create zero or very little waste. Plus, the recipient can redeem them for something they truly want and will use.

Micro-Actions For December

Trying to keep to a zero waste lifestyle during the holidays can be challenging. But it’s important to remember that time spent with your loved ones making memories is the best gift so give yourself permission to just relax and enjoy the season.

I want to take a moment and say thank you for reading my posts and for considering ways to support a sustainable future through daily micro-actions. I hope I’ve provided useful information and tips on small changes you can make in your day-to-day lives so that you feel confident about our future.

Wishing you all a joyful holiday season and a waste-less New Year!


Friday, November 30, 2018

Community Office Holiday Open House!



I hope you'll be able to join my staff and I at our annual Holiday Open House! It's taking place on December 10 from 5-7 pm at my community office (4243 Glanford Avenue, Unit 260). I look forward to seeing you there!

-Lana 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Collecting Donations for Anawim House


My community office and Carole James' office are collecting donations for Victoria’s Anawim House! In case you’re not familiar, this amazing organization provides healthy meals, showers, laundry facilities, clothing and more to men and women in our region.

Donations will gratefully be accepted any time my community office is open – 9-4 Monday-Thursday! It’s located at 4243 Glanford Avenue, Unit 260

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Over 400 new child care spaces on the South Island!

Great news for families on the South Island: our government just announced 439 new licensed child care spaces that will be located at six elementary schools in SD 61!
These new spaces are just the first to be announced under the ChildCare BC New Spaces Fund, and will be delivered in partnership by the Greater Victoria School District and non-profit organizations! Several of the locations will also offer “wraparound” services including counselling, healthy food and clothing to support vulnerable families, and programming for francophone families and those who are new to Canada.

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018CFD0100-002287?fbclid=IwAR3Nrvq2Ws8eUnz79PM4dIqwrKRSGbjiqiP6ov7GXCdfjxkNsh9qkQbiJI8

Monday, November 26, 2018

BC Budget Remains on Track, Growth Stable

There’s always so much happening down at the Legislature, but here’s a piece of good news that shouldn’t be missed: BC is operating debt-free for the first time in more than 40 years!
Even as we’ve made record-level capital investments in affordable housing, schools and hospitals, the province’s debt-to-GDP ratio is at its lowest point since the 2008 financial crisis. Private sector economists are also projecting our province to lead Canada in GDP growth in 2019!

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-finance-minister-says-budget-on-track-1.4921215

Friday, November 23, 2018

Education Savings Week

Did you know that November 18-24 is Education Savings Week in BC?

Many folks that I talk to are surprised by the amount of funding that's available to help save for you, or your child's education! Here are just a few examples: 

Receive $1,200 toward a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for children between six and nine years old.

There are no additional fees or financial contributions needed to receive the $1,200 B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant through one of 56 banks or financial institutions in Canada. This allows parents and families who cannot currently afford to put money aside to start a RESP. Even the smallest investment can grow over time and make it easier to pursue post-secondary education and training.
Receive up to $2,000 to invest in a RESP
Eligible families with modest incomes can receive up to $2,000 for each child’s RESP from the Canada Learning Bond. There are no fees and parents can receive this grant without making any additional financial contributions: For more information, visit: http://Canada.Ca/education-savings 
Have personal RESP contributions matched by the Canadian government
The Canada Education Savings Grant will match parents' contributions up to a maximum of $7,200 per child: http://Canada.Ca/education-savings 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

ALR is for farming, not mega-homes or construction waste

When it comes to protecting farmland, the choice is obvious and the rationale is simple: the best farmland in our province should be used to grow food, not for mega-mansions and illegal garbage dumps.
Over the last 15 years, pressures on our farmland were allowed to grow, driving the cost of land out of reach for farmers, discouraging people from joining the profession and investing in food production, and allowing our valuable farmland to be damaged or lost, often permanently. We’re fixing that.
On Nov. 5, I introduced legislation that protects the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and makes it clear that farmland in the ALR is meant for farming. The legislation addresses mega-mansions and speculation in the ALR so farmers can get onto the land and bring it into production. It cracks down on dumping construction waste and fill to protect our valuable, arable soil, and it reinstates one zone for all ALR land in British Columbia to make it clear that the entire ALR benefits from the same strong protection.
The number of mansions and lifestyle estates on ALR land in urban areas has steadily increased in recent years, inflating farmland prices and preventing new, often younger farmers from growing food. In April 2018, it was reported that after a new mega mansion was built on a nearly 20 acre lot assessed at $85,000, it was sold for $9.2 million. That’s more than $465,000 per acre, putting that land far out of reach for farmers.
By setting a maximum house size of 500 square metres (approximately 5,400 square feet) throughout the ALR, our government is putting a stop to the speculation and building of mega-mansions on our most valuable farmland.
The change does not affect existing houses. Multi-generational farming families who live together and work their land will also still be able to build larger homes if needed through application to the ALC. Mega-mansions on the ALR were one of the main concerns we’ve heard from British Columbians expressed to an independent committee tasked with reviewing how we could revitalize the ALR and the ALC, and it is one on which the government is delivering.
British Columbians are also concerned about the illegal dumping of construction waste on the ALR. The damage of truckload after truckload of waste is often permanent, putting land out of production. This year alone, the ALC has dealt with 191 cases related to fill — 45% of all their compliance and enforcement files. Fill dumping can range from anywhere from eight truckloads to hundreds of thousands of truckloads on a single piece of land. At between $50 and $200 per truckload, you can see why some people find it more lucrative to farm fill rather than food.
Under the new bill, dumping construction waste and other damaging substances on farmland will be prohibited, with strong penalties and new tools for enforcement. New offences for illegal fill and soil removal have been created under the new act with maximum penalties of $1 million or six months imprisonment for a first offence.
The return to one zone throughout the ALR will result in all land in the reserve being protected equally, with one set of decision-making criteria focused on preserving the ALR and encouraging farming and ranching. Farmers who wish to supplement their income through non-farming activities on their land will still be able to apply to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to do so. British Columbians support this approach, and so do B.C. farmers, with both the B.C. Agriculture Council and family farms championing a one-zone system in which all land in the ALR receives the same protection.
There’s more work to come. This is all part of our government's ongoing commitment to revitalize the ALR and the ALC to protect farmland and farming in British Columbia. The old government allowed pressures on our farmland to grow.  For too long, people have used the ALR for mega-mansion estate-living and as illegal garbage dumps, but we're changing that.
Our government is making it clear that farmland in the ALR is for British Columbians who farm it and support prosperity in our communities, and whose hard work will let us all put fresh, local food on our tables for years to come.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Monthly Micro-Actions: The Last Plastic Straw


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

Some things in life have become the norm; being handed a paper receipt upon making a purchase or getting a plastic straw when you order a drink at a restaurant. But what are all of these ubiquitous norms leading too? Millions of gallons of oil and trees and billions of gallons of water being consumed.. And for what? A small piece of paper most people don’t want and a bendy plastic tube used for an average of 20 minutes (or less). Just because it’s become “the norm” doesn’t mean it’s free from major hidden consequences.

The Plastic Drinking Straw

Humans have been using “drinking tubes” for over 7,000 years[1].  In the 1880s, gentlemen sipped their whiskey through long tubes made of natural rye that lent a grassy flavor to whatever drink they plopped in. In the 1900’s when polio was rampant, soda fountains offered paper straws to prevent contact with shared glasses.[2] But then came the 1950’s. With the popularization of cars, the quick-meal revolution emerged which included the creation of low-cost disposable packaging: Long and behold the plastic straw was born!

Disposable plastic straws are not recyclable. One study published earlier this year estimated as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world's beaches[3], and none of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable. As a result, they accumulate, rather than decompose, in landfills or the natural environment.

The environment is not just one little piece of the world’s puzzle. It's what every single thing in our life depends upon!

Maybe you’ve heard of food vendors and restaurants offering compostable plastics, such as straws and cutlery.. Within the market of consumer plastics is the growing industry of bioplastics – plastics made from plant biomass, such as corn. As marketable as biodegradable and compostable plastics are, there’s often more to these claims than meets the eye. Consumers often mistakenly assume these plastics will decompose in a reasonable time frame but for this to happen the bioplastics require the ‘right’ environment for them to decompose, e.g. the infrastructure. As well, this solution assumes that all the bioplastics actually find their way to the industrial facility which is unlikely.

Biodegradable plastics don’t make all that much sense in a long-term context. Plastic is a complex, highly refined synthetic material — why create something that requires a significant amount of energy to manufacture, only to have it disappear forever into the soil? Seems like a large consumption of resources for a short-term gain.

Micro-Actions For November

We can all vote with how we choose to spend our dollars, but some companies will always have more dollars than you. I encourage you to vote with your voice! Ask for “no straw” wherever straws are served, and don’t be afraid to tell restaurants and bars you frequent to only serve straws upon request. Very likely, you’ve been hearing more and more about cities and companies banning plastic straws, and Vancouver is going to be the first major city in Canada to ban plastic straws[4]. This is because awareness of the wastefulness of plastic straws has increased thanks to people taking a stand and saying “no” to using plastic straws. While we wait for city hall to declare Victoria as the second city to ban plastic straws in Canada, Mayor Lisa Helps encourages citizens to take a ban in their own lives on single-use items because it’s pretty easy to do if you just give it a little bit of thought[5]. 




[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/11/the-amazing-history-and-the-strange-invention-of-the-bendy-straw/248923/
[2] http://blogs.worldwatch.org/plastic-straws-a-life-cycle/
[3] http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full
[4] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-vancouver-to-be-first-major-canadian-city-to-ban-plastic-straws/
[5] http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-eyes-ban-on-foam-containers-plastic-drinking-straws-1.23309405