Tell us, briefly, about your background, where you call home, your political experience and why you decided to run this year?
I was first elected MLA for Fraser Nicola in 2013 and have served two terms. Prior to entering provincial politics, I was on Ashcroft Council and spent 17 years on school board including as president of the BC School Trustees. I have also worked in business development, regional economic development and owned a business.
I am running because the Interior of BC and rural communities need strong voices in Victoria. I have lived most of my life and raised my family in Ashcroft, so I know how important it is to create jobs and healthy communities to attract young families. I understand the importance of providing services in rural communities, and the importance of agriculture and resource industries. I also understand that we want to protect our environment, maintain our way of life, and keep our communities safe. I care about these issues and that is why I am running.
What do you see as the top three issues facing Hope and area currently and over the next decade?
Health and safety are upper most in people’s mind as we go through this election during a worldwide pandemic.
So keeping our community and community members, especially our seniors, healthy and safe during the pandemic is an immediate issue, however an equally important issue is ensuring that the economy recovers so that government can provide the services and programs that are important to Hope and area residents such as ensuring that we have access to the best local healthcare services possible, that we have appropriate and affordable housing for our seniors as they age, that we have a safe community with services for our most vulnerable, and that we continue to protect our environment.
An important aspect to having a healthy economy in Hope is addressing the addiction, mental health and homelessness issue. This is essential to help all people live healthy and productive lives, and to make communities safe.
How do you balance Hope’s needs with the needs of the more economically depressed communities in the district?
In all communities I listen to local residents to hear from them what their needs are and help them to address those needs in a number of ways depending on what the specific need is. I also work closely with local councils and electoral area directors, as well as federal government representatives so that we have a coordinated approach to addressing the region’s needs.
Although our communities have many similar needs, some have less capacity to access the resources they need because they do not have staff and are largely dependent on volunteers. Where this is the case, I work hard to help them identify grant funding and assist them to access the resources, programs and services they need. I also work hard to address Hope’s needs however they may require a different approach. I balance all Fraser Nicola communities’ needs equally but may advocate for them in different ways.
BC Housing is planning for a 52-unit supportive housing building in Hope. How do you see this proposed build filling the need in the community and what other, if any, housing investments would you advocate for if elected?
I understand that affordable, supportive housing is required in Hope, however it is essential that any supportive housing also include very necessary wrap around services and staffing. Housing alone is not enough, and many residents of supportive housing need a full spectrum of care and real opportunities to beat their addictions and lead healthy and productive lives. This must be provided.
In addition, I understand that there is a need for affordable housing for seniors and I would advocate for investment in appropriate housing to support seniors as they age so that they can remain in their community near friends and family, and still get the care they need.
What kind of a relationship do you think an MLA should have with First Nations in the district and, if elected, what are concrete steps you would take to build this relationship?
I reach out to all communities in Fraser Nicola, including First Nations communities, to build personal and professional relationships and I would continue to do that. I also encourage communities, organizations and people to be inclusive, respectful, and to work together. We are all here to stay, and I believe that together we are stronger.
Tell us one surprising or unique thing about yourself.
I have twin daughters.