Stewart: Happy to return to the friendly constituency confines

After three months of legislative session in Victoria, there’s no denying it’s good to be back home.

After three months of legislative session in Victoria, there’s no denying it’s good to be back home to work and meet with my constituents in West Kelowna.

It was a busy and productive session, and we got a lot accomplished.

I am sometimes asked what MLAs work on during legislative session.

The daily 30 minutes of Question Period is the exception rather than the rule; the vast majority of our time is used to scrutinize and debate the finer points of bills, examining and reassessing priorities in committees, and consulting constituents and stakeholders.

That all takes up a lot of time. But it’s worth it.

This session, seven new bills were passed into law.

Not all of them are glamorous or particularly headline-friendly. For example, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act modernizes an act from 1992, which doesn’t sound like so long ago, but was written when the Internet was a novelty.

Some of the new laws did attract more media attention.

The Family Law Act updates the outdated Family Relations Act, and places the best interests of children first when making any decisions involving the child.

You may also have heard of the Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act.

The new law is designed to help to deter and prosecute metal thieves, minimize regulatory costs for the recycling industry and protect the personal information of those who sell metal to scrap dealers.

There were also a lot of local announcements.  Along with the federal government, City of Kelowna, and community partners, we officially opened Tutt Street Place, a new $10.1-million supportive housing development.

It has 39 apartments with integrated support services to help women and women with children who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or who have proven financial need.

On Nov. 18, I was pleased to attend the ground breaking of a future 100-bed 24/7 residential care facility in West Kelowna.

These announcements are gratifying, because of the real and tangible difference they will make in people’s lives—families whose parents and loved ones will soon be able to receive the care they need closer to home.

We also celebrated the official opening of Apple Valley, a new 72-unit housing development for seniors and persons with disabilities in Kelowna.

In September, the $2.75-million addition to Shannon Lake Elementary created space for eight new energy-efficient classes for elementary and full day kindergarten students.

This was in addition to the restored Anne McClymont Primary building, located across the road from Anne McClymont Elementary, to accommodate more full-day kindergarten and early grades classrooms.

In October, the premier announced $353 million for new and upgraded schools, including one new elementary school in West Kelowna on Rosewood Drive.

We also completed construction of several upgrade projects on Highway 97, and announced $2.3 million to expand broadband Internet service to over 60 rural B.C. communities.

Sometimes I wish it could be more—but examples from around the world illustrate the wisdom of responsible government spending.

By being responsible now, those kids attending school today won’t be left with the bill tomorrow.

Please visit www.changethatworksforyou.ca for more information about the 2011 Fall Session.

 

 

 

Ben Stewart is the

Liberal MLA for Westside-Kelowna.

 

 

www.benstewartmla.bc.ca

 

 

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