As I am writing this, the holidays are upon us. It’s a wonderful time of year — to celebrate with loved ones and to reflect on everything we have to be grateful for in this country. In the New Year I hope we can continue to be generous with one another and work to improve the lives of all Canadians.
Our region is facing an unprecedented housing crisis, driven by a lack of supply and one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in Canada. This has left many in our community in a precarious situation. So many young people are simply unable to afford to buy houses as their parents and grandparents did in the past. While provincial and local governments have much they could do to find solutions to the housing crisis, the federal government also could be contributing by investing in this important social infrastructure: it must step up its efforts. I’ve been pleased to see incentives announced for building rental housing and I will be pushing for greater capital investments for social housing, including for seniors, in the upcoming federal budget.
In 2017, British Columbia must also come to terms with how much we value our beautiful coast and the way of life we have here. The prime minister’s approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion will bring a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea. The recent Bella Bella oil spill is a reminder of how ill-prepared our coast is for this dramatic increase in very large tankers carrying diluted bitumen. I will continue to speak out and to remind our community that the new Prime Minister came here before the election to promise he would “redo” the Kinder Morgan process; instead, the new government approved it under Mr. Harper’s broken environmental process. As your MP and as an environmental lawyer I take the risks of this project seriously and I will stand up for our coast and do everything I can to convince Ottawa to reverse its dangerous decision.
I will also continue to champion projects in Ottawa that our region has prioritized. Sewage treatment is finally moving forward and the federal funding commitment for that continues to be secure. I am also pressing for capital investments in the Belleville International Ferry Terminal and for the exciting project to modernize and expand the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: projects that are key to the future growth of our tourism sector.
The next year will no doubt be an exciting one in politics with a provincial election in the spring and a new president settling in to the south. I will be keeping in touch with you by means of regular public meetings like the many we held in 2016. I take your feedback very seriously so please try to attend a meeting or contact my community office at any time.
From my family to yours – have a happy and safe holiday season and my very best wishes for 2017.
– Murray Rankin is MP for Oak Bay and Victoria.