We all know that the Creston Valley is a gem. The amazing food grown right here, the kind people who serve it up at places like the Real Food Café and the Creston Valley Farmers Market, the breathtaking vistas and natural landscapes, the clean water and the crisp morning air. Those who know it love it, and there is no secret why.
As your provincial representative, I have risen in the legislature several times to talk about these very facts. Letting my colleagues know about all that the Creston Valley has to offer, I’ve invited them to take their vacations here, stop in for a visit when they find themselves in the area or to join me in meeting with community groups doing exceptional work. Not surprisingly, MLAs on both sides of the house have taken me up on the offers.
In getting to know the valley, my colleagues have developed a better understanding for some of the issues we need to address. One of these issues was recently discussed in the Creston Valley Advance: housing.
To live here, we all need a home. However, not all can afford housing costs. Over the past decade, income inequality has grown in our province so much that a recent report by TD Economics says B.C. has the largest gap between rich and poor and the most number of people living in poverty in all of Canada.
People struggling to make ends meet live in every community. The negative impacts on our economies and society have been well studied and documented. Indeed, it is often said we are only as strong as our weakest link, and therefore it is best for all if all do well. To that end, we need to ensure that everyone in our community has the basics, including a comfortable, stable and safe home.
Over the past four years, both the former and the current BC NDP Opposition critics for housing have visited Creston to get an understanding of what affordable housing means for our region.
They learned that the urban experiences of their home ridings are different from our rural realities. For example, homelessness is less visible and social services are fewer and have smaller budgets. Options to increase affordable units can’t be found in a high rise or anything over three stories. And they learned that getting from one place to another doesn’t involve a simple hop on the bus.
Most importantly, however, they learned that Creston is a wonderful community working diligently for affordable housing. They joined me in rejoicing at the recent news that the housing society has secured land, thanks to the Town of Creston, for family units. We also know that provincial funding will be necessary to make these homes a reality. Although budgets are tight right now, it doesn’t mean we can’t make things like this family development happen, and I look forward to working with the housing society to meet this goal.
We know Creston is a fabulous place to live. Ensuring that it is affordable for all its residents is a worthwhile endeavour that we can do together.
Michelle Mungall is the member of the legislative assembly for the Nelson-Creston provincial riding, and is the Opposition critic for advanced education, youth and labour market development.