Minister Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West. (Submitted photo)

Minister Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West. (Submitted photo)

Kootenay West MLA takes a look back at 2019

It’s time again to reflect upon the past year, it’s hard to know where to begin, writes Conroy

Season’s greetings to everyone in Kootenay West! It’s time once again to reflect upon the past year, and it’s hard to know where to begin.

Let’s start with health care. It was a privilege to be able to start the year off with an announcement of $23.3 million for Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. This money will help with a new ambulatory care area and expanded pharmacy, to better serve people in our area. The construction at the site will be worth it!

The Slocan Valley also had wonderful news of the addition of two great new doctors for the Slocan Community Health Centre, enabling Interior Health to maintain all current services there. And let’s not forget the biggest middle class tax cut in a generation: putting an end to MSP! As of Jan. 1, there will be no more struggling to keep up with MSP premiums, saving individuals up to $900 and families up to $1,800 per year.

CleanBC was introduced this year. This program is our government’s plan to reduce climate pollution and boost the economy. CleanBC makes clean energy options more affordable by providing rebates for home retrofits and electric vehicles. The plan also includes investing $30 million for new EV charging stations all over the province. It’s no coincidence that BC now leads North America in per capita EV sales! Locally, we’ve seen how the growing EV industry helps companies like eco-friendly Eagle Graphite Mine located in Passmore to thrive and create local jobs providing the raw materials for EV batteries.

On the roads, West Kootenay drivers were able to enjoy 20 km of resurfaced highway from Ootischenia to Playmor Junction this year. I can’t believe how fast that was completed! The Paulson Bridge was also resurfaced and upgraded to improve drainage and safety for travelers.

Travelers and residents had a welcome reprieve from major wildfires this year, but the Kootenays will be ready for next year, with help from an additional $907,000 government investment to promote community resiliency and help mitigate wildfire risks in our area.

As Minister of Children and Family Development, I’m so happy my work has been able to help families. West Kootenay families are now feeling the results of the almost $7.2 million we’ve invested in affordable, quality child care in the area. As of May 2019, local families have also had over $3 million put back into their pockets through the Affordable Child Care Benefit program. We now have 159 new child care spaces in Kootenay West — part of a total of 10,400 new, licensed child care spaces throughout B.C.

This year, our kids also benefitted from approximately $7.5 million for new school busses, over $5.1 million in funding for upgrades to schools, and brand new accessible playgrounds at Castlegar Primary and Winlaw Elementary.

I am also the minister responsible for “all things Columbia” (the Columbia River Treaty, Columbia Basin Trust, and Columbia Power Corporation). This fall, we held a series of 12 community meetings throughout the Columbia Basin to update residents on the current Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty negotiations, Indigenous Nations-led work on ecosystems, and progress made by the province to address treaty-related community interests.

In 2020 Canadian and American negotiating teams will be continuing the talks, with input from local communities, Indigenous Nations, and scientific experts, working towards agreement on a modernized treaty. This year marked a historic moment as representatives of Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations were present as observers at the Canada-U.S. negotiations for the first time.

Finally, one of the things that I am most proud of from the past year is our action on the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Last month, we passed legislation that will require B.C. to, over time, bring its laws into harmony with UNDRIP. We are the first province in Canada to take this significant step towards reconciliation.

There are so many more things to recall from 2019 than we have room for here, but I hope that this overview gives you a glimpse of what a positive and successful year it has been in our province and the Kootenay West constituency. Best wishes to everyone for the holidays!

Katrine Conroy is the New Democrat MLA for Kootenay West

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Montrose resident Kimba McLean has hiked Antenna Trail every day since October and counting. Photo: Jim Bailey
Montrose man makes daily trek up Antenna Trail

Kimba McLean put on more than 800-km hiking Antenna Trail every day for the past six months

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

Trail Times file photo
Trail RCMP nab wanted man

Police responded to a call for assistance in East Trail on April 7, at 2 a.m.

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in March hit a record high as they continued their rebound from the lows of earlier this year when the COVID-19 froze the market. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
Seller’s market continues for Kootenay homeowners

In Trail, sales were up almost 40 per cent from the same time last year …

Trail Coffee Company’s Maddie Van Horn is making the best out of the province’s latest health orders, and invites patrons to enjoy a hand-roasted coffee on her new patio. Photo: Jim Bailey
Trail coffee shop owner serving it up on outdoor patio

March 31, the PHO shut down pubs and restaurants to indoor dining.

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $82M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Road rager fails breathalyzer on busy B.C. highway in vehicle he shouldn’t be driving

Saanich police say man was operating vehicle without required ignition lock

Most Read