With spring comes road construction and I’m pleased to see the walkway on Lakehill Road in Kaleden underway.
While many great people in the community have supported the project, I want to personally thank volunteer Kim Dennis for all her help and collaboration in getting this project to the top of the list for the Ministry of Transportation, and thanks also to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and rural director Tom Siddon.
This budget is again a balanced one and again not particularly exciting, so I will only mention the continuing support for agriculture. There is another $2 million to support Buy Local programs and $1 million to support the B.C. School Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program, which benefits close to half a million school children including First Nations Schools. I know many of our local organic farmers supply produce for these programs.
The Canada Winter Games have concluded in Prince George and while we didn’t have any local young people in Prince George, we did have a Special Olympics team from the Boundary that won a gold medal in floor hockey at the B.C. Special Olympics in Kamloops. Congratulations to the seven team members from Grand Forks and their coach for bringing home a medal.
The Small Business B.C. Awards were held recently in Vancouver and several local businesses were nominated. Congratulations to Karoleena Homes in OK Falls, Jane Long, who was nominated in three categories, and Firehall Brewery which finished in the top five for the Premier’s Award. Small business is alive and well in the South Okanagan/Boundary/Similkameen.
A Community to Community Forum was held in Keremeos which brought together the entire board of the regional district and First Nations communities. I was able to attend for part of the day and noted the spirit of co-operation shown by all the participants. There is a desire to become better at talking — government to government — on issues of mutual importance and working more collaboratively in the future.
Tourism got a boost with the announcement of the next steps in moving forward with Area 27. This is just another example of the partnerships possible with First Nations that benefit all who live in the South Okanagan. Thanks to the OIB and Chief Clarence Louie for creating another great opportunity to attract an untraditional tourist attraction to our area.
While wine tourists traditionally think of the Okanagan for excellence in wines, the Keremeos/Cawston area continues to hit the world scene with its wonderful wines.
Most recently, Clos de Soleil was recognized for its 2013 Capella by having it served at Canada House in London. Congratulations.
In closing, I want to recognize the Open Door Agency in Oliver and the work it does connecting people with all kinds of challenges to meaningful employment. I recently attended Untapped 2015 in Vancouver put on by Open Door B.C. where individuals and large and small businesses were recognized for their hiring and helping practises.
There were 32 nominees this year and the numbers continue to grow. March 11 also marked the fifth anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the convention and B.C. has launched Accessibility 2024 to make this province the most accessible in the country.
We have a long way to go, but we have many wonderful organizations who every day make the lives of people with disabilities better and businesses that recognize the value of these individuals as employees. Thank you.