Now retired Speaker of the BC Legislature and local MLA Bill Barisoff once commented that the wheels of government often turn slowly but they do continue to turn. It was over a year ago in one of my April 2014 MP reports that I first referenced the serious concern of aquatic invasive species here in the Okanagan and in particular the need to take action on invasive freshwater mussels. This was an issue that was raised by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, various local government elected officials and also citizens within Okanagan-Coquihalla. Since that time I have been actively working on this issue in Ottawa in the hopes that invasive species regulations that help to address this important situation would be introduced and become legally enforceable.
In December of 2014 I sent out a news release to local media encouraged over the announcement of proposed invasive species regulations that had at that time just been publicly introduced. These proposed Canada wide regulations had been announced by my Kelowna Lake Country colleague MP Ron Cannan and I on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea, along with other important stake holders in attendance. From that point the proposed regulations undergo a formal review process until they are released in the Canada Gazette, when they become legally enforceable. While it is understandable this review process would take time, once May and now June has arrived, so does boating season on many of BC’s freshwater lakes. The need for the regulations to be in force is time sensitive and an important measure towards prevention. For the past month this has been one of my priority tasks in Ottawa and it is without haste that I can now announce that as you read this week’s MP report our new invasive species regulations have been published in Canada’s Gazette and are now in force.
It is important to recognize that this is one of many steps required to protect British Columbia freshwater lakes; however all steps can and will make a difference. From my perspective it is also important that I make clear as a Member of Parliament the concerns I take forward to Ottawa are those that are raised here in the riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla. On that note I would like to recognize West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and the rest of the OBWB staff and directors along with many citizens who expressed concern on this issue. While there is more work to be done it is rewarding to have these new regulations in place in spite of nearly fourteen months elapsing since my first report on this subject in 2014. My thanks to all who worked hard to raise concern on this important issue.
This is also the last full week the House of Commons will be in session with only a few sitting days expected for next week. Later this week the Board of Internal Economy will also release the annual publishing of the members’ expenditures report for 2014‑2015. This is important information for taxpayers as it relates to the annual spending of Members of Parliament. As with previous years I will use this and other information to release my 4th annual accountability report in the near future and will welcome your scrutiny. If you have any comments or questions on matter before the House of Commons I can be reached via email at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents. His website is www.danalbas.com and has an archive of previous reports.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.