Gong syi fa tsai – happy year of the Horse! Readers may be well into the celebration of the Lunar New Year, a highlight of which is the Annual Asian New Year Celebration, marked February 8 this year in the West Van part of the riding, thanks to the efforts of 70 or more volunteers with whom I work to create this festival of music, dance, and great cuisine.
That same community spirit filled the room January 14, when over 75 community leaders met in Britannia Beach to discuss the future of Howe Sound. Participants included MLAs Jordan Sturdy and Nicholas Simons, representatives from half a dozen local governments, and other members of the public. The four-hour meeting led to three conclusions.
Firstly, it’s clearer than ever that we need a long-term plan that will embrace aspects of tourism, other industry, and the environment to ensure that decision-makers balance competing interests in an informed manner with a multi-generational perspective. The importance of such a plan in our riding is obvious, given the vital nature of Howe Sound to so many of our constituents, not to mention the tourists and visitors who flock to our area. The process involved in creating such a long-term plan may sound intimidating, but I take confidence, given the keen interest from such a broad cross-section of our area’s community leaders.
The other issues that preoccupied participants were ferries and abandoned vessels. While ferries are not a matter of Federal jurisdiction, I am aware of their critical importance to the lives of Coast residents. I have ensured the Federal Minister of Transport is aware of current circumstances; she and local Coast leaders are keen to get together, if only by phone, so she can be thoroughly briefed.
Finally, on the matter of abandoned vessels, I am working with Mayors and Councillors from the affected riding communities. Building on my work with them over the past years, we will address a brief to the Minister of Transport on what might be done next.
As we enter the Year of the Horse, I am settled in the saddle, and look forward to riding with you in this New Year.