MLA Michelle Mungall

COLUMN: New year presents new opportunities

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, enjoying all that our region has to offer at this time of year.

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, enjoying all that our region has to offer at this time of year.

For my husband and I, shoveling sidewalks are more welcomed when we think of the fun ski day ahead and the positive impact good snow has on our local tourism sector.

We also relish each morsel of the region’s delicious holiday food — from local chocolates, wines, beers, meats, veggies, cheeses, crackers and so much more.

I could go on, but you already know it; the Kootenays are a wonderful place during the holidays and throughout the year.

With the New Year started, there’s no doubt that life in the Kootenays will continue to interest us.

Notably, local government elections are set for Saturday, November 15 this year. These always bring out exciting debate and campaigns on issues addressed by local governments.

School District elections occur at the same time in 2014. With our Kootenay Lake School District recently speaking out against the many years of Liberal government underfunding of education, there is sure to be discussion about the need to prioritize education in provincial government budgets.

What trustee candidates offer as ways to accomplish this should get voters’ attention.

Along with local elections, the New Democrat opposition will be electing a new leader.

This process will culminate in a final vote in September 2014. Whomever is selected by party members will step forward to speak for British Columbians in the legislature and communities throughout our province.

He or she will propose ways for economic growth to include and benefit everyone, not just the one per cent.

Until the election, my New Democrat opposition colleagues and I will carry that torch this spring in Victoria.

Another issue to keep your eye on is Kalso’s health care.

It has been in the news since 2012 when reduced hours to the ER were first announced.

The North end of Kootenay Lake has rallied together to learn about health care models, working with Interior Health and possible solutions for health care delivery that meet their remote area’s needs.

As the MLA, I am fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of people who have had such a positive impact.

We are now at a point where the IH is negotiating with interested physicians and the results may be full primary care and ER coverage.

2014 is also the year I hope we can finally say good bye to the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.

The law currently states that if they do not have anything substantive built by the end of their environmental certificate, they must re-submit the entire project.

That date comes up this October. After two decades of fighting a development we know is bad for our economy and environment, it’s time the Liberal government recognized that the continued lack of financial backing means that even big developers know this resort is a bad idea.

This year, I hope that the Liberals’ Jumbo Resort champion, MLA Bill Bennett, realizes his time is better spent preparing for the Columbia River Treaty review than forcing through a hated project via questionable means like the fake municipality.

May 2014 bring a Jumbo, Qat’muk, wild.

To be sure, 2014 is bound to keep Kootenay residents on their toes with all kinds of goings-on. I hope this year brings you much joy, prosperity and celebration.

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