Reflecting on the year 2023
Winter is a great season for staying cozy and taking some extra time to reflect on what is most important.
This month I’ve had a chance to reflect on 2023 and everything we accomplished for people, here in the Kootenays and across the province.
I wanted to share some of those reflections with you.
In 2023, we took steps to support those who are struggling the most with global inflation and the rising cost of living. We permanently increased the BC Family Benefit, which means eligible families are getting hundreds more each year to help with clothes, groceries, activities, and everything else that goes along with raising kids.
We also added an additional top-up for lower-income single parents.
We made several legislative changes this fall that will speed up the approval and building of new homes and suites. We also provided municipalities and regional districts with funding so they can update bylaws and processes to align with these new rules and approve more homes, faster.
We also took action to protect even more of our biodiversity and species at risk, while working towards lasting reconciliation.
First Nations have been stewards of the lands and waters since time immemorial. Our new Nature Agreement recognizes that Indigenous knowledge is critical as we work towards conserving 30% of B.C.’s land base by 2030. British Columbians can share their views on protecting our ecosystem as the draft Biodiversity and Ecosystem Framework is still accepting public comments until January 31.
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This year Premier David Eby, alongside our rural BC NDP MLAs, proudly announced a new vision for rural B.C., one where rural voices are always at the table when decisions about our communities are being made. We’re making it a priority to connect rural communities like ours, to the rest of the province in three key ways: digitally, with improved internet and cell coverage; physically, by investing in roads and ferries; and administratively, by making it possible for people to work for the government no matter where they live.
This includes important investments, like $2.5 million to conduct regional studies on expanding rural inter-city transportation, and $20 million to enhance medical-travel for people in rural and remote communities.
Our region is made up of vibrant and unique communities, and I would invite you to take a short trip with me as we highlight some exciting achievements for them this year.
In Kaslo, we opened the brand-new Penny Lane Apartments, providing ten homes for families, seniors, and individuals, including two homes that are accessible for people with disabilities. The provincial government provided funding towards the building and operations, but this project truly reflects the dedication of the Kaslo Housing Society who worked towards it for many years.
On the East Shore, I had the opportunity to meet with residents and hear their thoughts about the ferry service, and delivered their priorities for optimizing this important service to the Minister of Transportation.
In Nelson, I hosted the Attorney General, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General for meetings with community members and stakeholders. The Ministers had a chance to hear local perspectives on community safety and reducing harms for our neighbours who use drugs.
In Salmo, we opened a new facility that will divert thousands of tons of food and yard waste from the landfill and process it into garden soil. This locally-grown climate solution will reduce our collective carbon footprint, while also helping to green our gardens.
And in the Creston Valley, we helped protect and create jobs in farming, food production and manufacturing, by helping three local, family-run businesses to expand. I look forward to seeing JH Huscroft, Pippin Point, and Blue Canoe Orchards continue to grow and contribute to our thriving communities.
This is only a sample of all the work I am so grateful to be a part of. There is more to do, and in 2024 our government will continue to take action on the things that matter most, including improving health care and investing in transportation, so people in our communities can better access the services they need.