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Simons: Schools and emergency housing funding on the way

Simons: Schools and emergency housing funding on the way

The BC government is fulfilling its commitment to make education a priority again. On top of adding more teachers to get back to smaller class sizes, some $3.5 million will be going directly into school upgrade projects for the Sunshine Coast and Powell River School Districts.

On the lower part of the Coast, this will pay for mechanical upgrades at Cedar Grove Elementary and Roberts Creek Elementary. The school district’s overall routine maintenance budget has also been increased.

Meanwhile, BC Housing has announced a proposal to provide housing in Sechelt for people on the Coast experiencing homelessness. The project would see a building with 40 new units of modular, prefab housing – not shipping containers – each with a bathroom and kitchen. It would be built on provincially owned land at Hightide Avenue and Lamprey Lane.

RainCity Housing would operate the building and provide staff on-site 24/7 to ensure residents are supported and the property is well maintained.

The goal is to have this building ready for use in about one year’s time. Our communities welcome this timely initiative by BC’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The minister of finance has now provided details on how the new BC speculation tax will work. The tax – which will be one-half of one percent for BC residents who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents – will help make housing more affordable and available. And, it will only go after speculators who are driving up prices in overheated markets by leaving homes vacant.

In any case, homes in our riding of Powell River-Sunshine Coast will not be subject to the tax.

The visit by Adrian Dix to the Sunshine Coast last month marked the first time we’ve seen a BC Health Minister in these parts in many years. The minister took some heat from people unhappy with the Vancouver Coastal Health contract with Trellis for a new long-term seniors’ residential care centre. I know not everyone was prepared to be convinced that it’s a good solution to replace Shorncliffe and Totem Lodge. But it does appear to be the solution we are legally obliged to go with. The advances Minister Dix was able to win for current employees over the previous conditions is a good thing.

And a final good news reminder, if you haven’t noticed, as the BC government has followed through on another promise: BC Ferries fares have been reduced by 15 per cent.

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