Saturday, July 29, 2017

Quick update on my work as Minister of Agriculture

Good Morning! 

I wanted to give you a bit of an update on what has been happening over the past week. I've had more than a few messages asking me "What's going on?"

For starters let me say that this has been a week that is comparable to none that I have ever experienced.

After I was sworn in the work started immediately. It's a very difficult time for many in BC due to the intense forest fires. The agriculture community has been directly and greatly affected and so that has been a concern and focus for the Ministry of Agriculture. We are lucky to have excellent partners across the province who are showing incredible leadership and who are helping guide us in a way that is most helpful. Please accept my utmost appreciation to everyone involved.

Throughout this past 11 days I have been in numerous briefing meetings with staff at the Ministry of Agriculture getting me up to speed. Let me say that we have an incredible team of people working in the Ministry and I feel grateful to be the newest member. 


Below is a link to the Mandate letter given to me by the Premier of BC John Horgan.

I will work harder than I have ever worked to complete my mandate and to make our food systems better in BC.
I'll try and keep you updated as much as possible...at times it might just be a recipe.  Thanks for all of your support!

Lana

http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/government/ministries-organizations/premier-cabinet-mlas/minister-letter/popham-mandate.pdf

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Saanich News: The Role of an MLA

MLA Report
By Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, July 26, 2017


Given the recent big changes in B.C. politics now seems like a good moment to describe the duties and responsibilities of an MLA.
An MLA – or Member of the Legislative Assembly – is your elected representative in the Legislature of British Columbia. Each MLA is responsible for representing a different geographical area, called a “riding” or “constituency”. B.C. is carved up into 87 ridings (each with between 35,000-50,000 people), meaning that 87 individuals represent the 4.6 million residents of B.C.
Once elected, MLAs are expected to represent all people who live in their ridings, regardless of differences such as social standing, age, income, or political views. In my opinion, the most important aspect to this is to advance efforts that improve our shared quality of life, both in the riding and across the province.
Broadly, my work as an MLA happens in three different categories: contributing to the work of the legislature, finding solutions for issues in my riding, and assisting individual with problems or concerns related to the provincial government.
Much of the work I do takes place at the legislature in downtown Victoria. Provincial governments have significant power under the Canadian Constitution to make laws in a wide variety of areas, such as health care, education, agriculture and the environment. As a member of John Horgan’s B.C. New Democratic minority government, I will contribute to this work and give voice to the concerns and priorities of constituents in Saanich South.
Another large part of my job is to help solve problems in the riding I represent. For instance, I worked hard to improve safety at the intersection of the Pat Bay Highway and Sayward Road. It used to be one of the most dangerous intersections on the South Island, but after holding several community consultations and meeting with the Ministry of Transportation I was able to secure $3 million in safety upgrades for the intersection. Thankfully, data since the new upgrades has shown a significant decrease in the accident rate.
I also assist people who are struggling with issues that involve the provincial government and its various branches. Just since I was re-elected two months ago, I have helped a senior couple access respite care after they were wrongly told they would not be able to; helped a local business owner who was having problems with the provincial sales tax; met with Saanich teachers to discuss issues they are facing in the classroom; and advocated for homeowners worried about the CRD’s Wastewater Treatment Project at the Hartland Landfill.
In addition, MLAs who are part of the government often have additional responsibilities such as leading a ministry (which is a section of the public service). Earlier this month I was appointed to the cabinet to serve as the minister of agriculture for British Columbia. This Ministry has responsibilities such as strengthening agriculture and food security, protecting animals and ensuring food safety. Much of this work is done in partnership with the federal government. As a former organic farmer, this role is a dream come true.
Detailed information on what I do in the community and my work record is available at www.saanichsouth.ca. It is a privilege to serve as your representative in the government of British Columbia, and I am excited to see what the coming months and years will bring. If you require assistance with a branch of the provincial government, please contact me and I will do my absolute best to assist you. As well, I am always open to your feedback on any provincial matter.
Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South and the Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia. Her community office is located at 4085 Quadra Street and can be reached at 250 479 4154.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Update on the Wastewater Treatment Project in Saanich South

MLA Popham received a briefing from the Wastewater Treatment Project team on 6 July 2017.

Subsequent to that a flyer titled “Project Update #3 – July 2017” was sent out to most residents in the CRD with additional information. Copies of this flyer are available at the Constituency Office.

One of the central issues Popham raised was the importance of engaging the affected communities on a schedule which would allow their input and concerns to be taken into consideration. This is consistent with her article on this matter in the Saanich News. (Link here) This article also raises a number of concerns with the project and the process.

Popham was told that the Project Team wanted to do community consultations after they had enough of the plan put together so that they could meaningfully answer questions such as likely route of the pipeline. However, there was agreement that the consultations should be held early enough so that input from the community could inform the plan itself.

At the meeting, Popham requested that no less than two public consultations be held in Saanich South this Fall. Other public meetings have already been held in Victoria and Esquimalt as the plan for those areas is being implemented first and in fact is already well underway. Popham was also told that the WTP meets regularly with Saanich.

Popham specified that at least two public meetings in Saanich South were required because there would be general concerns regarding the pipeline in the Strawberry Vale/Marigold area and additional specific concerns in the Willis Point and Prospect Lake areas regarding the biosolid storage and eventual treatment at Hartland. She suggested one meeting be held at Spectrum School and another at the Prospect Lake Hall.

Regarding Hartland. The CRD is currently developing a plan for what to do with the biosolids. It is our understanding that they are planning to use anaerobic digestion in steel tanks or “biocell reactors” Biocells are a ‘closed loop cell’. Resources, including gas and material can be recovered. There would be an end product of Class A biosolids and that would need to be removed from Hartland at some point and in some form. The CRD reports that the facility must have the capacity to treat 32,000kg/day of residual solids.

At this meeting Popham raised concerns including the proposed cost of the project, the uncertainty of how the waste will be treated, the risks to waterways, contamination of well water, air quality and traffic disturbances.

The WTP gave Popham an informational binder which they committed to keep updated. It is at the Constituency Office and available for public inspection.

We are happy to continue working with concerned residents on any issues they have with this project. Please feel free to contact the office at any time.

Finally, it may be of interest to note that the WTP Board has a public meeting on the last Thursday of each month and visitors are able to ask questions.