By Murray Rankin
MLA for Oak Bay - Gordon Head
From the speech from the throne, to the release of budget 2021, to exciting investments in our community, April has been a busy time. There is much to report!
Right here in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, funding has been put in place to protect our most treasured artistic enterprises. Through the Arts and Culture Grant, many pillars of creativity in our community have received the funding.
In our community, the Theatre For Young People, the publishers at Rocky Mountain Books, the Island String Players Society, the Canadian College of Performing Arts, the Aventa Ensemble, and the Story Theatre Company were all recipients of grants. I encourage you to explore the work of these wonderful organizations.
Speaking of the arts, this month saw our government deliver on the promise to provide funding and support to Camosun College to help it explore a state-of-the-art film studio at its Interurban campus.
This investment is a vital first step that could enable Camosun College to attract international film and TV productions to Victoria. The next generation of creative talent would be trained and mentored right here. Such an investment could truly make Victoria part of Hollywood North.
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The future of public transit is also looking bright. Budget 2021 announced free public transit for all children under 12 years old. That means families could save hundreds of dollars a year in travel costs. This news comes in addition to last month’s announcement of multi-million-dollar investments in public transit, right here in our community. These investments will see BC Transit acquire low-carbon busses for use in its Victoria fleet. The UVic bus loop will also be significantly updated.
I’ve seen reports that B.C. has had the highest uptake of electric vehicles in all of North America, helping us achieve our CleanBC targets. I’ve been encouraged to see many more electric cars and more and more E-bikes on the roads around our community; we are strongly supporting this transition at a governmental level. Budget 2021 includes several financial incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, and e-bikes will now be exempt from PST. It’s never been a better time to go electric.
In my role as Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, I have had the honour of participating in some very impactful events over the last few weeks.
This month at the legislature, I presided over an announcement concerning a joint investment to provide continuous cell coverage along the Highway 16 corridor. Indigenous women and girls who have experienced violence or have gone missing along the Highway of Tears must never be forgotten. This investment represents a concrete step to make a highway, which has caused so much pain for so many, safer for all who travel along it.
I also had the honour to MC another moving event. In 2019, Premier John Horgan visited a former residential school building in Lower Post, B.C. He heard heart-wrenching stories from the people of the Kaska Dena community about the painful legacy that the building represented. That painful reminder will now give birth to a new legacy. In partnership with the federal government, $13.5-million has been invested to demolish the remaining portion of the former residential school and build in its place a new multi-purpose community centre.
Let me end with a note on COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, we have faced challenges that we could never have imagined. Some of us have been affected more than others. I know from hearing from constituents that many of you are anxious over case numbers and many of you are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.
I want our community to know that my office is always available to provide you with the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 supports for individuals and businesses, as well as assistance on any other provincial matter. You can reach my community office by phone at 250-472-8528, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With every one of you who receives a vaccination, we get that much closer to ending this pandemic. With your continued resolve and collaboration, we will get through this together. We must not let up. Let’s meet this challenging final chapter head-on, with the confidence that better times are ahead.
Murray Rankin is MLA for Oak Bay - Gordon Head