Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Highway Safety: Sayward Road and the Pat Bay Highway

Please take a moment to fill out this survey - thank you!
If you do not see it below, you can access it by clicking here.




Sunday, April 25, 2010

One heck of a week!

Dear Saanich South,

I hope you are all well and are finding time to enjoy the weekend. Last week was super busy for me and I would like to share a few of the highlights with you.

But first: I'm pleased to invite you to join me in welcoming Alexandra Morton to Saanich on Saturday May the 8th.

Alex is a renowned biologist and a leading expert on BC salmon. She is completing a 500 km walk from the northern part of Vancouver island to Victoria in order to raise awareness about the need to improve fish farming practices in order to save our rapidly disappearing wild salmon stocks.

Click here to read a Globe and Mail article about her. And you can watch a very interesting news story about the walk on /A\ Channel by clicking here. The beautiful picture you see is a young Nimpkish Dancer during a ceremony this week at the start of Alex's walk.

My event takes place at 12:30pm on Saturday, May the 8th at my office, 4085 Quadra St. (.5 km North of Mackenzie). We will welcome Alex and the other walkers on the last day of their "migration". And then those who are able will join with her and walk the final six kilometers to downtown Victoria. A great way to get some exercise!

There will be a free barbecue salmon at 2pm at Centennial Square and rally at the Legislature at 4pm. Let’s make sure Sockeye are around for our grandchildren. Find out more at salmonaresacred.org

Ok, my week! Let me just start by saying I had a miserable cold the whole time! Anyway, I'm feeling better now and here is what I've been up to as your MLA....

I started the week off on Sunday with some fun: I attended a 5 km walk at Beaver Lake in support of families raising children with autism. I had a great time chatting and enjoying the passion of the crowd. What a dedicated group! Please check out my website, autismstories.ca, to read about the personal impact of cuts to intensive therapy for children with autism. You can connect with the local group working on this issue by visiting their facebook page.

After the walk, I went to the Sikh Temple on Topaz Street – it was Vasaki after all! Best wishes to all the celebrants. I enjoyed a wonderful meal in the Temple dining room. (This is a meal that is provided free every Sunday to everyone. It was delicious!)

On Monday, I started receiving more calls about booming cannons in the Blenkinsop Valley. It seems a local farm is firing off canons to scare away the Canadian Geese. They are eating the new foliage on a very large blueberry farms – this can severely damage and even kill new plants. However, the noise is also really upsetting a lot of their neighbours. If you are one of them, please visit my website, blenkinsopvalley.ca to register your complaint. I am collecting information to better understand what is happening and to look for opportunities to improve the situation.

Early in the week I met with colleagues and Ministry staff regarding a number of issues including significant legislative or regulatory changes to the way in which Veterinarians and Optometrists are regulated in B.C. The Veterinarians Act falls under my critic portfolio so I am preparing for debate by studying the proposed amendments to the act, section by section by section. It's very interesting!

In the House, I presented a Private Member’s Motion calling for a made-in-BC food security plan. You watch that by clicking here.

On Thursday, coughing and sniffling, I travelled to Vancouver for a 7 am breakfast meeting with real estate leaders about the ALR. It was a forum on topical issues confronting the commercial development industry. It was quite interesting to hear the tug of war between panel members. Did you know the Fraser Institute blames the ALR for unaffordable housing? And they think 'local food is a fad' and that the environmental and nutritional benefits of organic food are myths. Hmmmmm......

Speaking of the ALR! It was the ALR 37th birthday this week and I joined other supporters of agriculture in celebrating this milestone and calling for renewed vigilance to protect our precious and dwindling farmland.

After the breakfast, I rushed back to Victoria in time to speak at a tree-planting and memorial on Shelbourne Street. It was a moving experience as we grieved and acknowledged the loss to Canada of Myles Mansell and Lt. Richard Nuttal, both of whom are loved and remembered by many in Saanich. They died fighting in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2009, respectively. I attended the funeral of Lt. Andrew Nuttall back in December and was struck by the strength of his family. I was very fortunate to meet his mom and dad at the tree planting this week. They are wonderful people.

With my kleenex box in tow, I met mid-week with the Saanich School Board Trustees. They have to make some harsh budgeting decisions in the next ten days. After our meeting, I rose in the House and raised the issue of inadequate funding for our schools with the Minister of Education during Question Period. I believe we need to do a better job at working collaboratively with education professionals in the schools. At current budget levels our children will lose library hours and kids with special needs will lose important teaching aids. Music programs are even at risk. At this rate I wonder what will become of our public education system......

With my cold at a high point, I gave a half hour speech opposing the HST. (Not my most energetic performance!) I focused on my experience of the debate in the House and the impact of the HST in the Comox Valley and Quadra Island, where I grew up. You can watch that by clicking here. I will have another 30 minute opportunity to speak about the HST and will be focusing on the effects we will feel in Saanich South.

On Wednesday we also finalized a few details for a public forum on “Highway Safety at the intersection of Sayward Road and the Pat Bay highway". This event will take place June 15, 2010, 7-8:30pm at Cordova Bay Elementary School. All are welcome. More details to be announced. Please help me learn about your experiences at this dangerous intersection by taking a few minutes to complete my short survey.

On Wednesday I also taped my Constituency Report with Shaw TV. (It will air Saturday May 8 at 5:30 pm and Sunday May 9, at 3 pm.) Why so much TV action when I could barely breath is beyond me! But I think it turned out well and I was able to toss a salad "live" and talk about what is available from our local farms and gardens at this time of year. I have included the recipe I used on the show. You can look for these local ingredients at farmers markets starting now.

BC Spring Kale Salad
  • Bunch of Kale
  • Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 2 BC Apples
  • Handful Toasted BC Hazelnuts/Filberts
  • Cup of cubed local cheese (your choice)

Chop Kale finely in strips. De-stem and Chop Parsley. Cube apple. Cube Cheese. Toast nuts. Toss! Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Eat your kale it is good for you!

Thursday night after the session ended, I drank a strong coffee and drove to Campbell River. In the morning I met up with Fin Donnelly, a MP in New Westminster/Coquitlam/Port Moody. Fin is the Federal Aquaculture Critic. We were there to learn more about fish farms. This is the second such tour I have done in less than a year. We visited an open-net fish farm and a closed containment fish farm. I learned a lot!

Whew! So now it's the weekend and I'm feeling all better! And yes, this weekend I got a little down time with my family and even planted a few seeds in my garden.

Thanks for reading and please keep in touch!

Cheers, Lana

PS. I usually send this update out to my email list but because of a computer break-down, I can`t do that today. If you would share this with your friends and families I would be grateful. Thanks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Walk for Wild Salmon - May 8th

Hi,

Happy Earth Day!

You are invited to my office and gardens on Saturday May 8th at 12:30 pm for a welcoming celebration and walk for Alexandra Morton.

There will be refreshments, and those who choose will walk the final six kilometers along Quadra St with Alexandra to a barbecue salmon reception at Centennial Square at 2 pm and then a rally at the Legislature at 4pm.

Alexandra Morton is a powerful voice speaking out against industrial aquaculture and its harmful effects on wild salmon. For almost 30 years, she has studied the impact of fish farming on wild salmon and her research has been published in 17 journals. Last month she received an honourary doctorate from Simon Fraser University, and she is recognized internationally as an expert on BC's wild salmon. She recently won a lawsuit against the government, forcing the Federal government to live up to its constitutional duty to protect our waters and regulate fish farms. Her goal is ensure that our wild BC salmon does not end up like the destroyed Atlantic Cod stocks - but instead that the wild stocks are a vibrant part of a healthy ecosystem.

On May 8th, Alex will complete her walk from the top part of Vancouver island all the way to Victoria. Her goal is simple: “If we want wild salmon, British Columbians need to send government a very clear message: this nonsense is over, get salmon farms out of the ocean and let Canadians reinvent this industry on land.”




All the best,

Lana,

Lana Popham, MLA
Saanich South

RAIN OR SHINE

For more information, please visit saanichsouth.ca or salmonaresacred.org.

--


The Get Out Migration Begins
A people’s movement to protect the fish that built BC – wild salmon

(April 22, 2010, Sointula, BC)
 After 20 years of expressing concern to governments that won’t listen and have shielded Norwegian salmon farms from the laws of Canada, the public of British Columbia is taking to the streets to get industrial salmon farming out of the ocean and away from their wild salmon.

The Get Out Migration begins today with an evening send-off from the fishing village of Sointula. Tomorrow morning the Namgis First Nation will perform a ceremony at the Nimpkish River at 10am for the group walking into the mountains.

 “Get Out for Wild Salmon” released today on www.salmonaresacred.org org> shows Biologist Alexandra Morton leaving the Meetup River with the young wild salmon and the send off by the Broughton First Nation village Gwa'yasdams Village. “When International companies come in here and lay waste to our territory we have a problem with that,” said elected chief Bob Chamberlin.

Anissa Reed of Ocean Aura and one of the planners says, “people absolutely hold salmon sacred. The outpouring to the Get Out Migration of artwork, volunteers organizing awesome events in every town, offering us shelter in their homes is a demonstration of the attachment British Columbians have to wild salmon. We expect thousands to participate.”

“Government has ignored its own studies on salmon farming since 1989. This is exactly how we lost the food security, thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars that the North Atlantic cod brought to Canada.  “We in BC do not intend to play out this tragedy again,” says Alexandra Morton, “government must support the families dependant on this industry as it is removed from the ocean onto land.”

On April 16, 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) had to instruct DFO to lay charges against Norwegian fish farm company Marine Harvest, for unlawful possession of wild salmon and herring.  “This offence was reported to DFO last year, why did it require the DOJ to lay a straightforward charge?” asks Morton. “If we want wild salmon, British Columbians need to send government a very clear message this nonsense is over, get salmon farms out of the ocean and let Canadians reinvent this industry on land.”
 
The Get Out Migration has spread to other towns. For details http://www.salmonaresacred.org/itinerary



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Private Member's Motion in the Legislature: We need a food security plan for BC!

We need a made-in-B.C. food security plan right now.




Private Member's Motion, April 19, 2010.

If the video isn't available above, click here.

Private Members' Motions
FOOD SECURITY
AND PRODUCTION PLAN FOR B.C.
L. Popham: I move: 

Be it resolved that this House debate and discuss a made in BC food security and production plan.

What is a food security plan? A food security plan refers to the availability of food, one's access to it and a comprehensive plan to make sure these things are addressed. The necessity of having such a plan is becoming more crucial year by year, as we understand the effects of climate change on agricultural capacity around the world. 

In B.C. we have been neglecting our food security plan because we have had easy access to imported food. As a result, up to this point we have almost abandoned our potential for self-sufficiency. We are becoming more and more reliant on imports. 

The places we are importing from are regions that will be first affected by the devastating impacts of climate change. In fact, we see this happening already. We see California facing water shortages, the salinity issue. We see Florida wrestling with temperature fluctuations that destroy their crops. In other areas of the world we are seeing extreme weather as well. 

B.C. is not immune to climate change effects, but we have resilience, given our diverse topographies. This doesn't mean, however, that we have the luxury of sitting back and doing nothing. We should be taking the time to develop a made-in-B.C. food security and production plan. 

The government released a study in 2006 called B.C.'s Food Self-Reliance. The goal of this study was to get a perspective on total food production and food self-reliance using farm-gate production values. There was an interesting disclaimer at the beginning of this report which states that this "report is an information piece and does not necessarily represent current or future policy direction." 

It continues to establish that "the statistical data in the report is factual and will be used to develop benchmarks for further research and study." This disclaimer is relevant to my motion, because there is information in this report that leads me to question why the B.C. government is not fully committed to making sure B.C. has a food security plan in place. 

Sustainable B.C. is a vision of our province. As B.C. politicians, we need to be dedicated to building a sustainable society that nurtures us, and food security is a large part of that vision. Healthful food for consumers and increased local and provincial food self-sufficiency are essential for a sustainable society. This requires a protected agricultural land base, environmentally sustainable farm practices and economic viability for B.C. food producers. 

To produce a healthy diet for the projected B.C. population in 2025, B.C. farmers will need to have 2.78 million hectares in production, of which 281,000 will need access to irrigation. This means that to produce a healthy diet for B.C. in 2025, given existing production technology, the farmland with access to irrigation will have to increase by 92,000 hectares, or 49 percent over the 2005 levels. That's one of the undisputed facts from the report that this government released. 

Where should we look for leadership, and what ministry should we work with in order to make a food security plan a reality here in B.C.? We could look at our communities, we could look at our grass-roots organizations, and we could look at our consumers for leadership. They are demanding more priority be put on local food production. 

It seems we cannot look at the current government. This government fails to make food production a priority, even though they commissioned a study to prove it was critical for British Columbia. The budget for agriculture in B.C. has dropped year after year, and it's at a level now that I believe makes the Ministry of Agriculture ineffective. When we look at a massive decision in our province that we are facing right now — all decisions — we need to continually visit our food security situation as a province. A decision to take away most fertile land at a time when the facts tell us we need to add to our land base works against the idea of food security. 

When will food security be a priority? Sadly, food security around the world becomes important when food supplies are not secure and access to food is threatened. The B.C. government has an opportunity to plan for our future, and this should be a future where food security is not in doubt. We need a made-in-B.C. food security plan right now. 




Thursday, April 8, 2010

saanichservices.ca

As your Saanich South MLA, I am happy to introduce saanichservices.ca.

The goal of this website is to provide an easy to use and up-to-date list of contacts for the most commonly used services in our community.

I created this site because the dizzying variety of inquiries at my constituency office has demonstrated how difficult it is to find key numbers and addresses for federal, provincial, regional and local services. It can feel like a maze but it doesn't need to. On this site you will find the contact information that is most requested by Saanich residents.

It is a privilege to serve the people of Saanich South.

Kind regards,

Lana.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Community Ride on the Shelbourne Corridor!

Calling all Cyclists!

Join me for a fun community bike ride to celebrate cycling on the Shelbourne corridor!

Sunday April 11. Meet at Shelbourne and Cedar Hill X Road.

Depart: 11:00 am.

Cycle from Gordon Head Rec Centre to Shelbourne Plaza (Pear St.)

Slow pace, suitable for families and children.

Police will give us an escort and provide a rolling road closure!

The event continues until 2 pm and includes a bike rodeo and prizes such as a draw for a bike trailer!

Special thanks to the District of Saanich, Rider’s Cycles, UVIC and the Saanich Police.

Hope to see you there!

Lana

Friday, April 2, 2010

Loss of autism program is devastating

[Catherine: thank you for writing this personal and powerful statement. Lana.]


Parents helpless as children regress, thanks to government's decision
BY CATHERINE CLARK-TURNQUIST, SPECIAL TO TIMES COLONIST


April 2 2010
On the last day of Queen Alexandra's early intervention program for preschool-aged children with autism, a little boy gave me a spontaneous hug. He was about four years old, the same age as my son, and equally non-verbal. I'd noticed him before. He's a very cute child. I had never seen him make eye contact or touch anyone. I certainly hadn't imagined he'd ever noticed me. Yet here he was, squeezing my knees with an abandon that moved me to tears. He may not have been able to talk to me, but I felt as though I were hearing the quiet voice of the divine.

What is happening to these small, fragile voices now that Queen Alexandra's program closed its doors due to the decisions of Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak?

This is what's happening: Parents are watching helplessly as their children, who had just begun to speak (at age five), gradually slip back into grunting. Parents are gritting their teeth as children who had finally mastered toilet training are falling back into incontinence.
They're having to take time off work or quit altogether because their children have been asked to leave preschool due to aggressive anti-social behaviour -- behaviour that had been improving before Queen Alexandra's program closure.

Families are suffering because they cannot afford to pay private agencies for the treatment their children need. There is no longer a publicly funded option. Marriages are faltering as the financial and emotional stress grinds them relentlessly downward, day after discouraging day.

The siblings of these children are constantly starved for their parents' attention. Spouses have no time for each other. Daily life is so exhausting and overwhelming that even the laundry backlog can make them sit down and cry.
Any spare moment is often spent saying a silent prayer that somehow their children will find a way to cope with kindergarten in September. Never mind blossoming, thriving, making new friends and being happy. Just let them survive. Please God keep the bullies away.

Minister Polak and her cabinet colleagues know that these families are permanently pushed to the limit. They are fully aware that parents have precious little time to spare for political wrangling. They rely on this, waiting them out, wearing them down and hoping they'll get so tired they'll just go away.

We're still here.

Queen Alexandra and other centres around B.C. may have lost their early intensive autism treatment programs, but the fight is not over. We, the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends will continue to advocate for children with autism, those yet to be diagnosed and those still unborn.

Our commitment will outlast any cabinet stint or election cycle. Minister Polak may eventually wonder if dealing such a damaging blow to children and families was really worth saving a few dollars.

The adorable little boy who was so full of affection just a couple of months ago recently came to a reunion playdate at a park. He was unable to get out of the wagon his mom had brought him in, or to stop crying. He couldn't play with any of his former school friends. He simply couldn't cope with the social situation. It was heartbreaking.

Minister Polak is failing children in this province, supposedly in the name of deficit reduction. Where was she when government announced a new $145-million program to help homeowners outside Victoria and the Lower Mainland? Desperate parents this minister has abandoned will now be subsidizing owners of $2-million homes in Whistler. Compare this to her argument of "fairness" when she axed our children's treatment.

Responsible government MLAs, and they do exist, need to speak up quickly to help this government regain its moral compass and ability to govern.

Is your MLA speaking up? Phone or e-mail today and ask.
[Tell the Premier to fund EIBI now: gordon.campbell.mla@leg.bc.ca]

Catherine Clark-Turnquist is a Victoria mother of two boys, one of whom had been in the early intensive behavioural intervention program.
http://www.timescolonist.com/health/Comment+Loss+autism+program+devastating/2756096/story.htm

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Top Four Reasons I Oppose the HST

  • First, the HST will shift 1.9 billion dollars onto consumers and small businesses. The HST will increase the taxes on all sorts of things including funerals, hydro bills, restaurant meals, a cup of coffee, and a haircut. The list goes on and on and the cost to you will be significant. For those on a fixed or low income, this additional burden may be devastating. Everyone will have to pay the same tax, regardless of their income or  ability to pay. 
  • Second, the government does not have a mandate from the public for such a profound change to our tax system. During the last election, they promised not to introduce an HST. The HST is a betrayal of the public trust. In addition, the government has failed to convince the public that such a tax is necessary or hold a debate on taxation options. It defies common sense that what is now being touted by the government as the single biggest thing we can do to help the economy of BC, was not even on the radar of the government before the election. It is a question of trust and respect for the citizens of the province. 
  • Third, the HST is part of an agreement with the federal government that limits and restricts the province's ability to make its own taxation decisions. This is an important power that our MLAs should not sign away. 
  • Fourth, the HST is not grounded in the principles of sustainability. We need tax policy that addresses the environmental crisis we are in…and this tax fails that test. A government that raises taxes on green transportation choices like bicycles is a government travelling in the wrong direction.