Thomson: Break week from legislature is not time off for busy MLAs

Last week is what we refer to as break week, what we call the weeks during legislative session when the House is not sitting.

Want to know the biggest single misnomer in politics? “Break week.”

Last week is what we refer to as break week, what we call the weeks during legislative session when the House is not sitting.

This was the first such week after five consecutive weeks in the legislature. And while it is nice to come home and sleep in your own bed, it’s certainly not a vacation.

Break week is usually very busy, attending to constituency matters.

That said, this was a wonderful break week.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to share good news with local organizations, especially funding.

Between my colleagues Norm Letnick, Ben Stewart and I, we announced a total of $2,851,260 in funding for 52 different organizations in the Kelowna area.

These included Community Recreation Grants, Community Gaming Grants and Civil Forfeiture Grants.

The Civil Forfeiture Grants are always a good story about funding worthwhile programs.

On Feb. 9, the province issued an open call for applications to share in $5.5 million for projects that reduce youth involvement in gangs, prevent violence against women and children, and further crime prevention.

The one-time funding stems from a record year for B.C.’s six-year-old civil forfeiture program, which counters the profit motive behind unlawful activity by taking away tools and proceeds of that activity.

In Kelowna, six different organizations (four of them divisions of the local RCMP detachment) shared $243,300. These funds will go to programs to reduce and prevent gang membership, assist in auto-theft investigations, and more.

Some 41 different local non-profit organizations shared $1,303,960 in the most recent batches of Community Gaming Grants.

These grants go to support arts, athletics, social services and non-profit organizations around the Central Okanagan.

The programs offered by these 41 groups vary tremendously, from the youth counselling services provided by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada’s Okanagan chapter, to the Kelowna Ballet Society’s community engagement tour.

The best announcements, of course, are done in person. On March 17, we had that opportunity when we headed up to Joe Rich Hall to announce a Community Recreation Grant of $224,000 to resurface and renovate the Joe Rich Community Sport Rink.

This was a fantastic announcement. The surrounding community had outgrown the existing rink —it just couldn’t accommodate many activities anymore, especially given the uneven surface.

Later that day, we headed up to Lake Country to announce $400,000 to renovate the Beasley Park Community Centre and install field lighting towers at Beasley Park soccer field.

Under the lights, groups like youth soccer clubs can continue to play and have fun when the sun goes down, thereby increasing capacity of the field.

In total, Community Recreation Grants are funding five projects in the Central Okanagan, for a total of $1,304,000.

I wish every week could be like this, and there are many organizations who deserve funding that don’t make the cut, so to speak.

There’s a limited amount of resources to invest in grants, and while I believe we make the choices wisely, I do wish it could be more.