MLA REPORT: Positive impacts on South Okanagan

Linda Larson is the MLA for the Boundary-Similkameen are

Rural B.C. has been the focus of several recent government announcements that have a positive impact on the South Okanagan and Boundary-Similkameen.

The province continues to move forward on its fight against invasive mussels. A permanent, mobile inspection station is set up near the border crossing in Osoyoos – one of eight permanent stations operating along B.C.’s borders with the U.S. and Alberta. The Osoyoos unit also has mobile capability and will go to other locations to respond to high-risk incidents.

Quagga and zebra mussels pose a serious threat to B.C.’s aquatic ecosystems, salmon populations, hydro power stations and other infrastructure facilities. They can clog pipes, cause ecological and economic damage, displace native aquatic plants and wildlife, degrade the environment and affect drinking water quality.

There have been several grants received by worthy organizations in the Boundary-Similkameen in the past few weeks.

This year, $2 million has been added to the province’s invasive mussel defence program, which launched in 2015.

We are fortunate to have many volunteers and agencies who participate in several invasive species societies throughout the riding. They spend a lot of time educating the public on how to identify and control many invasive species that plague our areas.

The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society, the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and the Boundary Invasive Species Society will share $154,300 to continue their work.

We all know how valuable our hospice societies are to the communities they serve. It is the wish of most of us to be able to die in our home or a loving environment surrounded by our family or close friends. Hospice volunteers offer the support needed to make that happen.

The Desert Valley Hospice Society will receive $35,000 to continue with their work increasing access to compassionate care closer to home, and the Boundary Community Hospice Society will be able to add three new beds with a $90,000 grant. The Minister of Health continues to support volunteer hospice throughout the province as we work toward helping people at the end of their lives with the appropriate setting.

With all the issues that relate to water, fire, etc., we often forget about some of the other pieces that make our communities great places to live. Arts and culture are what brings us together socially at many shows and events throughout the year. Boundary District Arts Council, Grand Forks Art Gallery Society, Oliver Community Arts Council and the Osoyoos and District Arts Council will share in $42,296 worth of grants to help them continue the great work they do. Tying into that is the great Harvesting Diversity Event that the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce will host later this year with the help of a multiculturalism grant of $2,480.

I would like to remind all of you that warnings have been issued about the high water and fast flow of the Okanagan River, so please do not go for a swim no matter how hot the weather is. And, despite the high water, the danger of fire is still with us. We live in a very dry region and we do not want to repeat last year’s fire season, so please exercise extreme caution when you are out exploring our beautiful country.

Linda Larson is the MLA for the Boundary-Similkameen area.


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