Progress report

Lyme Disease

The Act Respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease became law on December 16, 2014. This was my private member’s bill, C-442, first tabled in June 2012. It is one of fewer than 2% of private member’s bills to become law. Hundreds of Lyme disease patients across Canada worked very hard to bring this to pass. It is amazing that the bill passed both the House of Commons and the Senate unanimously!

To develop the strategy, the Act calls for a national conference of federal, provincial, and territorial health ministers, medical and scientific experts, and representatives of the Lyme disease patient community. The Act makes organizing the conference the responsibility of the Minister of Health. The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Health Minister, has committed $5 million to focus on Lyme disease. We hope to have that conference occur soon.

Community Consultative Committee on Shipping

I was very pleased to organize a meeting with community members from Pender and Saturna Islands, including concerned local residents, Islands Trusts Trustees and staff, on February 12, 2015 with executives from Canada Steamship Lines (CSL), the Chamber of Shipping, and other shipping industry representatives at Hope Bay on Pender Island.

The goal of the meeting was to exchange information and perspectives on the on-going issue of the use of Plumper Sound as an anchorage and particularly for the transfer of gypsum while anchored. The meeting was productive and the exchange respectful. Local residents all expressed appreciation to the shipping representatives for making the trip to the Gulf Islands.

Coming out of the meeting, it was agreed by consensus that a more permanent consultative mechanism should be created. The Gulf Islands Consultative Committee on Shipping will meet again to continue the dialogue. Local residents hope the process will lead to large container ships and CSL gypsum operations going elsewhere. The shipping company representatives hope the process will lead to greater community acceptance of their operations. At this point, all agree that with good faith on both sides, the situation can only improve.

The meeting also led to greater awareness of existing channels to report on violations of the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code, Chapter VIII, Section A-VIII/2 Part 3 S/No. 51 (Appendix 1). For example, shipping industry representatives want the community to know that ships are supposed to aim lights to the deck and not out towards residents’ homes.  Gypsum operations have been significantly modernized and clouds of dust should not occur. If anyone is bothered by lights or noise or dust, please immediately call the Pacific Pilotage Authority Dispatch in Victoria at 250-363-3878 to report the problem.

Saanich Peninsula Round Table for Affordable Social and Workforce Housing

Over the last nearly two years, I have been convening an informal and positive innovative effort to assist the multi-jurisdictional challenge of addressing the high cost of housing in our area. I am grateful to our Saanich North MLA, Gary Holman, for his participation and taking the lead on the social (low-income, non-market) housing, and to councillors and community members, including architects, business leaders, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, large manufacturing industries and concerned residents for giving this consultative experiment a chance.

Together, we are moving towards the creation of a Saanich Peninsula Housing Society with the goal of working to facilitate appropriate housing projects to help those working on our peninsula afford to live here.

Funding for Oceans Net

I am very gratified that the Minister for Western Diversification, the Honourable Michelle Rempel, approved the largest grant to any university by Western Diversification Canada, providing over $9 million to the University of Victoria for the Oceans Net research project. Thanks to working across party lines, I played the role of “match-maker” in making sure this research proposal came to the Minister’s attention. And she took it from there! So too, has the Minister for Transport, Lisa Raitt, provided even more funding to ensure the project can move ahead. It is an ambitious plan to create a high-tech network of measuring devices, providing real time information from the ocean floor. It should help track tsunamis and help provide greater information about earthquakes as well as any pollution threats.