Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Congratulations to Serenity Farm!

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Buy BC Back With Vengeance!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wildflower Seeds Available!

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

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

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Public Education Set To Benefit From New Investments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

Thank You For An Amazing Open House!

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

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

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


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

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Day of the Honey Bee a Big Success!

I was so, so excited to celebrate the Day of the Honey Bee this year! 
On May 29th the Legislature was really "buzzing" with activity. We had representatives of the BC Honey Producers Association, the Capital Region Beekeepers Association, Feed the Bees, members from 4-H British Columbia and local honey producers join us for an incredible afternoon. 
Almost everyone knows about the delicious honey that bees make, but did you also know that their role of pollinators is absolutely vital to our agricultural sector and environment? 

In fact, it's estimated that Honey Bees contribute an estimated $538 million to our provincial economy and $3.2 billion across Canada!

At the Day of the Honey Bee I was thrilled to announce BeeBC, a $100,000 program to support community-based research on bee health! Delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation, the fund will provide up to $100,000 over two years to support small-scale regional or community-based projects to research, explore, field-test and share information about best management practices associated with bee health. 

I'm happy to report that BeeBC is just the latest program that will support our beekeepers and pollinators. Our government has been steadily increasing support for the honey bee industry since summer 2017. Late last year, the Province signed on as a co-sponsor of a study to find solutions to the bee health problems of honeybee colonies involved in pollination, with a contribution of $25,000 to support that research. 

More recently, two new inspectors were added to the provincial apiculture team. These inspectors provide vital services to beekeepers throughout the province by testing hives for diseases, as well as performing outreach and educating beekeepers with the latest information.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it down to the Legislature to celebrate with us, I’ve included some photos from the day below!  

Friday, June 1, 2018

Monthly Micro-Action: The Power of (Dog) Waste

*MLA’s note*  Laska is one of our amazing constituents in Saanich South. This is the second of a series of guest blog posts to provide 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 

Laska and a four-legged friend!
What if I told you our future could rely on poop for energy? You heard me, poop!

There is no escaping the conclusion that fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are non-renewable and are mostly depended on for our energy needs. But they are limited in supply and will one day be depleted. In order to tackle the energy crisis, we need to seek out new sources of clean energy. That calls for a little innovation and rethinking the way we manage waste.

Your dog might seem like an unlikely source of renewable energy, but the facts are (1) dogs produce a lot of poo (2) it’s an unlimited, natural resource.

Turning poop to power is a way of the future and one I hope to bring to Greater Victoria through “The Power of Poo” campaign.

What’s this? you ask.

Over the past few months, I have partnered with Shaw TV to develop short videos on varied environmental protection topics. While researching content for my recent video feature, Paws & Poop, I Iearned how big the poo issue is in Greater Victoria and the lack of sustainable options available to pet owners. I started to learn about what other cities are doing to reduce the amount of poo sent to landfills. Some of the more innovative solutions include using dog poo to power streetlamps, and human sewage to power buses. Naturally, I thought: Why can’t we do this in Victoria?

Our city is known for its progressive lifestyle, thriving technology sector, abundant parkland, and some of the nation’s best educational intuitions. My goal for “The Power of Poo” campaign is to maximize the potential of waste diversion by producing something useful and build connections between the small changes we can make at the local level, and the impact of these changes on our local environment. Imagine if the streetlamps in parks across Greater Victoria were powered by bio-gas from dog poo? How satisfying would it be to recognize our furry friends as a source for clean energy?

Dog owner or not, everyone has a role to play in helping us shape a sustainable city. This month, I’m inviting you to consider the potential of dog droppings by signing “The Power of Poo” petition. The goal is to rally support to encourage municipalities across Greater Victoria to pilot waste-to-energy projects that turn dog poo into energy and divert this waste from the landfill.

Let’s work together and use this petition as an opportunity to make affordable change! While signing a petition might seem like a very small micro-action, collectively it will have an impact. If you’re keen to do more, spread the word by sharing the petition with your networks and join the discussion online. Together we will create cleaner parks and green spaces for all to enjoy, and hopefully reduce the likelihood of you stepping in dog poo.