The Legislature will resume sitting in Victoria on October 1st. As this is a continuation of the spring session there will be no Ceremonial Speech from the Throne.
There are many issues that will be debated between now and December but I am sure the Cannabis legalization on October 17th will be number one on everyone’s minds. There has been a lot of discussion and it was top of mind for all the Municipalities at the UBCM this September. At this time only one store has been approved to start on October 17th and that is a Government store in Kamloops. The licensing process is similar to starting up a liquor outlet- it is slow with many legal hurdles. Each community will have the ability to decide location and numbers and some have already passed resolutions to govern these new businesses. This is a learning curve unlike anything local or provincial governments has ever experienced before.
And this leads the conversation into policing. I attended meetings with many of my communities at UBCM and the issue of not enough police presence was of concern to all of them. The South Okanagan has experienced a rise in theft from properties and vehicles this summer. The numbers of people who came out in Oliver for the Crime Forum shows how many people have been impacted by crime and also how much they care for their community. The first ask is always for more RCMP. The entire province is short of officers but rural communities seem to suffer the most.
There is no overnight solution that will produce fully-trained police for our communities fast enough. Recruitment is difficult, and not enough officers are being trained to fill the need. No, a community cannot hire fully-trained police officers to fill the void for two reasons:
- there aren’t any, and
- all police in rural BC are supplied by contract between the Province of BC and the Federal Government. If we want more police the current contract will need to be refunded and rewritten. Currently, communities under 5000 in population pay 30% of the real costs of policing.
At 5001 in population that figure becomes 70%. Some communities have opted to begin lifting taxes towards that goal knowing that in the next census there will be a major hit to local taxes- a 10% tax hike will only pay for one police officer.
All of the communities and Regional Districts I represent used their time at the UBCM conference to get their local concerns in front of Ministers and Staff in a respectful way- there is nothing better than talking face to face with those that can help solve some of their local issues.
Finally, as was raised again at the UBCM, switching our clocks twice a year has become a topic that just won’t go away, despite this governments attempt to ignore it. Twice I have introduced a Private Members Bill to stop the time shift. The consensus is to keep Daylight savings time all year round. I will adjust the Bill to reflect that wish and put it back on the floor of the Legislature this fall.
Happy Wine Harvest!
Linda Larson, MLA, Boundary-Similkameen