Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen. (Contributed)

MLA COLUMN: Innovation and the Emerging Economy

Our world is rapidly changing. We are rethinking everything, from how resources are extracted and refined to how they are sold and purchased. As a result, where we live, move, work and play is in transition.

As we move forward we will either protect the status quo or embrace the opportunity of this emerging reality. The health and well-being of our communities and the life-supporting ecosystems we depend on, today and for generations to come, are deeply affected by our choices.

In my brief time as the MLA of Saanich North and the Islands, I have seen first-hand the impact of our government’s desire to protect the status quo. This approach is squandering the generational opportunity we have to be visionary, to create a forward-looking, agile, flexible government, choosing to engage and embrace the disruption, rather than fear it.

Two economic disruptions that are examples of sectors needing regulatory change are ride-hailing and short-term vacation rentals. Government has been rigid, inflexible and slow-moving. With ride-hailing, the government has stubbornly not amended legislation to allow fair entry to the market. As for short-term vacation rentals, legislation has not been amended to regulate it. Both approaches have had dramatic and far-reaching effects on our economy and on our communities.

Modern governments must balance the interests of the status quo with the change-makers. Public policy must protect the public interest and allow fair entry for newcomers, while supporting existing businesses, so they also adapt and succeed.

I am excited about the future of Saanich North and the Islands. We have a lot of positive forces going in the right direction. To leverage the transition to our advantage, I will lean on my provincial colleagues, and work with local and First Nations governments, local business, and the broader community to embrace the opportunity in front of us.

The housing, transportation and labour-force challenges are obstacles to be overcome through coordination, cooperation, and a commitment to address affordability, grid-lock, and automation proactively and with creativity.

At a local level this work has already begun in our constituency office. We are hosting monthly Community

Dialogues to discuss the challenges and to focus on ideas. Our first dialogue was on housing and it was a great start. We continue the conversation on December 6, 2017 where we will dive deeper into “Innovation and the Emerging Economy.”

I hope you will join us to discuss our world in transition. For details about our Community Dialogues, visit www.adamolsen.ca.

Adam Olsen, MLA

Saanich North and the Islands

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