B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. (Black Press Media file photo)

COLUMN: The word resiliency best sums up 2021, says agriculture minister

MLA grateful to be part of the Saanich community

By Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South

Saanich is such an amazing place to live, work and play and I’m so grateful to be part of this great community.

This year, we made important investments in Saanich schools because children deserve to attend school in safe environments where they have ample opportunity to play and learn. We invested in three new accessible playgrounds, replaced the Children’s Development Centre with a modern, and seismically-sound building and funded school zone traffic improvements, including the new crosswalks and sidewalk extensions.

Our focus has been on moving B.C. towards a future where all people can enjoy the beauty that Vancouver Island has to offer. This year, we invested in a new oxygenation system for Elk and Beaver lakes so the water is cleaner and safer for people to use. We also proposed deferrals of 2.6 million hectares of our most at-risk and ancient old growth forests, in line with recommendations from an expert panel. We are working with First Nations across B.C. to achieve our vision of a modern and sustainable forestry management system where workers and communities benefit instead of corporations.

We are also building more housing for working Indigenous families, through a partnership between BC Housing, Salish Sea Housing Society and the Tsawout First Nation. I know people in Saanich, and across B.C., are concerned about housing unaffordability, and that’s why we are prioritizing solving the housing crisis. This includes building more low-moderate and middle-income homes, alongside other strategies to ensure people have a safe place to live. In the Spring, we will be announcing legislation to create a cooling-off period for new resale properties and newly built homes in B.C.

When it comes to B.C.’s farmers, food producers and processors, the word that best sums up 2021 is resiliency. To go through an unprecedented pandemic, along with heatwaves, wildfires, drought and floods, and still be able to put healthy, delicious food on the tables of British Columbians is incredible and speaks to how resilient and adaptable farmers truly are.

Saanich is so lucky to have an abundance of farms you can spend time visiting and purchase local fruit and vegetables and other products from.

As we head into a new year, I urge everyone to do your part to support your local producers who put food on our tables. As I’ve toured the Fraser Valley and talked to farmers who’ve been impacted by the recent flood, I am struck by the hope and optimism they have for the future.

It is time for us to show them how much they mean to us. Whether it is at the grocery store, a farmers’ market or even online it’s always a great time to Buy BC. This helps strengthen our local food systems while also supporting our neighbours and communities.

There is more work to build a B.C. that works for everyone, but I am proud of the work we got done in 2021 and looking forward to accomplishing even more in 2022.

– Lana Popham is MLA for Saanich South and minister of agriculture, food and fisheries.

2021 Year in Review