What I’ve been hearing over the summer

Tracy Gray is the Conservative Party Assemblyman for Kelowna-Lake Country Riding.

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Although Parliament rose in June, my work as your MP here in Kelowna-Lake Country has not stopped.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with me in person, at community events while I was away meeting with small businesses and nonprofits, and to everyone who emailed me about their issues and sent thoughts.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit several local farms and processing plants including many of our proud local multi-generational cherry orchards.

Technological advances in cultivation, processing, packaging and quality assurance create premium products that are sought after locally and around the world. It was good to hear about the expansion opportunities that opened up when the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement went into effect on January 1, 2015, and how the industry has been working to diversify its cherry exports with some shipments this year including South Korea Opportunities for other agricultural products. Our fruit growers are an important employer and economic factor for our region.

I’ve also toured some of our high value agribusinesses, including wineries and a fruit beverage company, and heard their thoughts and ideas. It is important to support all of our breeders and producers. Some issues I heard about were rising costs, labor shortages, concerns about the classification of plastic as a “toxic substance” and how that could affect their industries, and concerns about possible changes in nitrogen fertilizer use policies.

Residents and visitors enjoy all that Kelowna-Lake Country has to offer in terms of recreational and sporting events, music, arts and culture and – of the activities I have participated in – participation has been very strong.

Talking to various local groups provides valuable feedback. This summer so far has included meetings with business groups, networking groups, non-profit organizations and a women’s breakfast group at a retirement home.

As last Tuesday served as National Peacekeepers Day, I had the honor of stopping by for an open house at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26 and paying my respects to all Canadians who have served – and continue to serve – in peacekeeping operations around the world to prove. Our efforts as peacekeepers are fundamental to Canada’s international reputation and we should all be very proud of their service.

As our team at our constituency office says, they are “overflowing with opportunities to serve.” I mentioned earlier that most federal agencies don’t meet their own standards of service, their phone lines are hard to reach, and agency responses are often extremely delayed. Our team works very hard to help everyone who comes forward in any way we can and I am very proud of all of their dedication to service.

We are still all too familiar with the complex addiction crisis here in Kelowna-Lake Country, both in terms of the rising number of drug overdoses and the rising number of families who have lost loved ones. The numbers released this week are sad and shocking. Over the past few weeks I have met with organizations on the front lines including law enforcement and many community organizations that are helping and giving hope, all of whom are true heroes.

Finally, just a quick reminder that some of the tragic vehicle and water accidents and the increasing prevalence of local wildfires here in the Okanagan are kept in mind so that everyone can take extra precautions and be safe.

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