Thomson: Busy time in the Legislature and constituency

I am grateful for the opportunity to not only represent my Kelowna-Mission constituents, but manage an interesting and dynamic portfolio.

When the Legislature is sitting, MLAs sometimes feel like they are living two lives—with plenty of action in Victoria as well as our home constituencies to keep us busy. This fall is no different, with the recent Throne Speech that kicked off the third session of the 40th Parliament.

The Throne Speech lays out the government’s priorities for the fall session. This one in particular focused on leadership, as our government moves forward on a comprehensive tax framework for B.C.’s growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

The Legislative session also brings opportunities to debate legislation and take part in many meetings pertaining to the work of my Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations. Numerous learning opportunities and events with a variety of stakeholders are also part of this experience.

Needless to say, it’s a busy time! But I am grateful for the opportunity to not only represent my Kelowna-Mission constituents, but manage an interesting and dynamic portfolio as well.

Closer to home, we had a lot to be thankful for as we marked Thanksgiving with our loved ones. As families gathered around the table for a hearty meal, giving thanks for their many blessings—1,250 residents in need were doing the very same thing thanks to the hard-working folks at Kelowna Gospel Mission. More than 50 volunteers provided them with a traditional (and delicious!) holiday meal.

It’s also time for fall harvest fun—and this year’s Rutland Scarecrow Festival was the best yet, by all accounts. This popular event, presented by the Uptown Rutland Business Association, is in its seventh year. About 5,000 people took in festivities including music, games, face-painting, and the ever-popular scarecrow building contest.

Community spirit was also exemplified by the Mountain Bikers of the Central Okanagan, who recently cleared more than 2,000 kilograms of trash from the Gillard mountain bike trails. I appreciate their efforts to preserve the trails and see them used for appropriate purposes.

On that note, we are also celebrating the province’s newest regional park this fall thanks to the collaboration of the Westbank First Nation, the Regional District of Central Okanagan, the federal government and our government. The 518-hectare Black Mountain Sntsk‘il’nten Regional Park includes 123 hectares from the province, offering education and recreation opportunities while protecting this very special area.

Sadly, I have missed some of these local happenings because my work has taken me to a third location this fall—Asia. As I write this, I am in the midst of my third Forestry Asia Trade Mission. I am leading a delegation of more than 25 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations to China, Japan and Korea.

These trade missions are a critical part of our province’s strategy to strengthen and diversify our international trading partnerships, secure new investment, create jobs and benefit our provincial economy. I’ll share more details on the outcome of my trade mission in my next column. Until then—enjoy all that autumn has to offer in Kelowna.