MLA REPORT: Festivals and events heat up for the summer

Linda Larson is the Member of Parliament for the Boundary-Similkameen.

It was a privilege to be able to participate in the Keremeos Rodeo Parade on May 18.

The rodeo originated with a group of community-minded citizens who in 1938 created a rodeo and racing association. When the Elks of Keremeos were chartered in 1944, they put their energy into supporting this rodeo. I’d like to thank Harvey Olender for driving me in the parade.

On May 30 the new Okanagan Falls Bandshell officially became a part of the community with music and local participation in the ribbon cutting. This is a wonderful example of what a dedicated group of volunteers can accomplish even for the smallest of communities. Special thanks to the Women’s Institute, which has been making contributions to OK Falls for 94 years.

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since the groundbreaking for the new Okanagan Corrections Centre. It continues to move forward on budget and on time, and whenever possible use First Nations and local labour and suppliers in the construction. It’s another example of partnerships with First Nations and local and provincial governments.

We have more than our share of wineries in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. All of them are unique in design and offer different taste experiences. This past weekend, Kismet Winery celebrated its first anniversary by introducing visitors to pairings of their wines with a wonderful selection of Indo-Canadian foods. A unique experience for all.

As I have done for many years, I participated with the fundraising CIBC does every year for B.C. Children’s Hospital. I cooked hot dogs, which fortunately are difficult to ruin, and I want to thank the staff of CIBC in Oliver who spend the day volunteering in what is usually a blazing sun. Over the years they have raised more than $35,000; not bad for hot dogs.

May seems to have been my hot dog cooking month as I participated in the Oliver Royal LePage giant yard sale, raising funds for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, one of 80 events sponsored by Royal LePage across Canada.

The Meadow Lark Festival is also in its 18th year. Under the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance, 70 events including guided tours, bird-watching, canoeing, art, photography and aboriginal education are enjoyed by thousands who travel here from all over the world. Thanks to all the volunteers who make this event so successful.

I would like to congratulate all of the members of Oliver/Osoyoos Search and Rescue who recently held their first open house showing off their new building. This dedicated group has worked incredibly hard to set up their response centre to better serve this very large geographical area. Residents and visitors can be confident that these well-trained volunteers are ready to assist at any time when someone is lost or injured in our beautiful valley.

It is important to note that since the beginning of this year through small-community grants, civil forfeiture, climate action, Telus investments, arts and gaming grants, this riding has received more than $4 million in direct funding. The latest group to receive funding is the Grand Forks Piranha Swim Club Society. They received $12,200 for their competitive swim program.

The Royal Canadian Air Cadets Bighorn Squadron held its 73rd annual inspection and awards ceremony in Oliver on May 31. The squadron has been offering programs for youth that teaches them leadership, improves their physical fitness and develops social skills and self-confidence.

Over the years I have witnessed the remarkable growth and achievements of these young people as they move through this program. It would not be possible without the volunteer officers, the sponsoring committee and the friends and extended family who support these youth. Congratulations to Barnabas Laflamme, Elizabeth Harkness and Eric Matevia for receiving special recognition.

May was also Social Enterprise Month. In this constituency we have two excellent examples of social enterprise: Double O Bikes in Oliver and Osoyoos, and The Painted Chair in Oliver. These businesses allow people with developmental disabilities of all ages to become involved in earning their own money and learning transferable job skills at the same time.

Social enterprises sometimes focus on services as well as retail business and offer other things such as recycling or lawn mowing under supervision.

These wonderful organizations also give their clients social and personal skills to make their everyday lives better. The Painted Chair recently introduced a kitchen and their clients are learning about basic food preparation and what constitutes a proper diet.

There are many businesses that have benefited from employing people with developmental disabilities, and I encourage all business owners to take a look at the possibilities. In June I will be attending events that focus on accessibility starting with the community of Sechelt.

In this past session of the Legislature which ended on May 28, more than two dozen pieces of legislation were passed. Some were just updating extremely old legislation, such as the Liquor Act. Some didn’t provoke a lot of opposition and others were more controversial, such as the Elections Act. All the work of the Legislature is available online for you to access at any time.

I will be spending the coming months touching base with all communities of the Boundary-Similkameen to listen to and follow up on any issues of concern. I am fortunate to have the most beautiful area of B.C. to live and travel in.

Linda Larson is the Member of Parliament for the Boundary-Similkameen.


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