Thanks to Cari McIntyre, the Emergency Planning Coordinator of the Comox Valley Emergency Program for visiting me on Parliament Hill. I was pleased to give her a tour and as always, I was super impressed with her work, passion and commitment to emergency planning and response in the Comox Valley. We talked a lot about the opportunities for coordination between all levels of government in to mitigate the effects of climate change and to establish infrastructure and respond to climate disasters. Great to hear her commons sense solutions to being better prepared for the future.
Hats off to the Parksville Rotary Club and Speedy Glass for their amazing fundraising for worthwhile causes through their recycling program. Every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, a crew of dedicated volunteers receives and sorts community donations of refundable bottles and cans in Speedy’s parking lot. Over three years, they have raised an astounding $240,000. In January alone, the ring-leaders of this operation, the "Three Amigos" John, Joe and Bill along with their hard-working crew raised $22,000! Thanks to Glen for showing me around when I dropped by to learn more about the program on Saturday.
I loved showing the Alberni Clayoquot Health Network’s Community Building Youth Futures team around Parliament Hill on Monday. The project aims to develop system wide solutions for youth as they build and act upon plans for their future. Great to see Toni Buston, Jaclyn Haberl, Jordan Higgins and Marcie Dewitt, all doing good work from Bamfield/Anacia to Tofino/Ucluelet to the Alberni Valley. They briefed me on their work creating safe spaces for youth and spoke in support of our work on mental health harm reduction and advocacy for more treatment, recovery, and stabilization beds, as well funding for education and prevention. I was inspired by their energy and commitment and compassion. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with this wonderful initiative.
Nice to enjoy a working lunch at the Broken Bow with Kackaamin Family Development Centre staff, Executive Director Lisa Robinson, Program Manager Jackelyn Williams and Peer Support Worker Noah Thomas. The Broken Bow is a fabulous new 100% gluten free restaurant at Port Alberni’s Harbour Key. We discussed challenges to accessing program funding in the face of chronic underfunding of services and issues for Indigenous people in the Canadian Justice system. The federal government needs to apply the "Gladue principles" which require judges to take into consideration the individual circumstances of the person before them in determining a fair sentence. This is critically important to keeping families together and connected. For more information about Kackaamin, one of only three family treatment centres in all of Canada, Click Here:
Brrrrrrr! That's me after a quick dip at Canal Beach in Port Alberni for the New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim, organized by The Peak (93.3FM) with help from Port Alberni Councillor John Douglas and a hardy crew of volunteers, First Responders and the Salvation Army which provided warm drinks and food. It was the first big Polar swim since COVID and proved that community spirit is alive and well in the Alberni Valley. You gotta love Alberni Valley Vibe’s Megan Warrender’s "I PA" tee shirt, it was hugely popular. Such a great way to start off the new year! Best wishes to all!
Thanks to everyone who came by Lighthouse Community Centre at Qualicum Bay for our NDP Riding Association Holiday Party last weekend. Santa was too busy getting ready for his travels so he was a no-show. But, everyone joined in on a heartfelt song for him anyway!
Happy to do a shift with the kettle in Port Alberni on Thursday with my kettle-partner, Nancy Wilmot from “The Scoop on Port Alberni”. Thanks to Mayor Minions and Major Ramsay for stopping by along with so many other Albernians who recognize the importance of the Community Food Bank and Bread of Life at this time of year. Many people are reliant on these essential services in our community so please give generously when you see the kettle or drop by 4835 Argyle Street in Port Alberni; In Tofino, Fish and Loaves Food Bank is available weekly at the Legion Hall parking lot at 331 Main Street every Wednesday from 10.30am – 11.30am; In Parksville, drop off donations at 886 Wembley Rd (250-248-8793); in Cumberland, go to the Food Shed at 2688 Penrith Ave; in Courtenay, go to the Comox Valley Food Bank at 1255 McPhee Ave; and, in Ucluelet, 160 Seaplane Base Rd. If you have details of other ways to donate, please leave a comment on this post. Thanks, everybody
A great time at our final riding holiday skating party in Courtenay on Wednesday. All three of our skates (Parksville, Port Alberni and Courtenay) were a blast with more than 1,000 people attending! In Courtenay, we had a great turnout by local leaders Mayor Bob Wells, Councillors Wendy Morin and Doug Hillian, Cumberland Councillor Jesse Keller and CVRD board member Daniel Arbour. Thanks to Bob and Randy Chatterjee for volunteering and to Max from Experience Comox Valley for coming by on behalf of this great tourism organization to thank us for hosting this event in the community. It was truly our pleasure, of course, we were thrilled with the turnout of youth and families and were pleased to keep them warm with hot chocolate and snacks plus some great karaoke singing. Thanks to the hardworking staff at the Comox Valley Sports Centre for the great job!
Thank you to the board, staff and volunteers of Kaackamin Childcare Centre for inviting me to say a few words at their Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Kaackamin is funded by Island Health, Health Canada, the First Nations Health Authority, School District 70, Aboriginal Head Start and Childcare BC. The childcare centre is part of the larger Kaackamin Family Development Centre which includes 16 housing units, an admin building, gymnasium, counselling and learning centres, a toddler centre, and play facilities. The toddler centre is a nurturing and safe place for newborns and toddlers up to five years old. A wonderful new addition to this unique treatment centre.
A great time was had by all again this year at the Qualicum Beach Volunteer Appreciation Reception. Each year, the Town hosts a wonderful gala event with great food, music and speeches honouring the amazing volunteers that make the town hum! I was pleased to be invited by Mayor Westbroek to say a few words. This year, the Above and Beyond Award was presented to Del Kristalovich of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. Del is a volunteer legend in Oceanside and is well deserving of this special recognition! Thanks for your service to the community to all those in attendance and the hundreds of other volunteers who give their time and energy to enhance our quality of life, support those who need help and protect our environment.