Community involvement

The past two weeks have been constituency weeks. The House of Commons did not sit, and I focused on connecting with residents and local organizations as well as volunteering.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out, and for all the informative conversations.

During this time, I also hosted three community outreach, virtual Roundtable meetings with the focus on three areas:

  • Small Business
  • Tourism
  • Housing.

My Official Opposition colleagues, who are the shadow ministers for these files, joined me to hear from local organizations on each of these important topics.

Thank you to all the individuals from the groups who attended, which included:

  • Tourism Kelowna
  • Kelowna Hotel and Motel Association
  • Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors,
  • BC Food and Restaurant Association
  • Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association
  • Festivals Kelowna
  • Big White Ski Resort
  • BC Hotel Association
  • Downtown Kelowna Association
  • Community Futures of the Central Okanagan
  • Lake Country Chamber of Commerce
  • Central Okanagan Development Commission
  • Uptown Rutland Business Association
  • Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
  • Interior Realtors
  • UDI Okanagan
  • Western Canadian Shippers Coalition
  • Canadian Homebuilders Association of the Okanagan
  • Journey Home Society.

We received a substantive number of insights, information, and suggestions from what collectively represents more than 5,000 businesses of all sizes, and from virtually all sectors, in Kelowna-Lake Country.

There was a lot of consensus on the most pressing issues that need to be addressed, and some great recommendations.

One of the most pressing concerns I’m sure we are all familiar with is affordable housing in the Okanagan. Many people are unaware of the multi government levels of tax burden that go into new building construction.

Another factor that adds to costs, one that’s especially prevalent right now, is supply chain issues driving up the cost of materials or parts. This also creates supply shortages.

Last Saturday, I volunteered at Habitat for Humanity Okanagan’s bottle drive at their ReStore location in Kelowna. The proceeds support affordable housing for families in need.

It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces donating their empties as they drove through. Thank you to all who donated, and to all who volunteered.

Keeping our community and natural environment clean is an issue I’m passionate about. I also participated in the Rutland Community Spring Clean-up.

The Central Okanagan Regional District provides a great service where they support such efforts with supplies and tools.

With our bags, gloves, reflective vests, and pickup tools, we spent the afternoon covering a lot of ground cleaning up multiple locations in Rutland -— just in time for spring.

A big thanks to the organizer, Christopher Bocskei as well as all the volunteers for your commitment to keeping our community clean.

There have been many unsung heroes during this pandemic, including our caregivers. These caregivers are special individuals, devoted to caring for loved ones. Their hard work and selflessness are even more remarkable amidst the pandemic.

Despite increased social isolation and other challenges, they remain committed to supporting family and friends.

Reflecting this past National Caregiver Day, I was reminded of the strongest person I’ve known, my mom. For 25 years, she selflessly looked after my dad with MS at their home until his final days.

I invite you to share your support, gratitude, and encouragement to the caregivers you may know.

The House of Commons will be sitting the next five weeks straight with many upcoming debates, votes on bills, and tabling of the first budget in over two years.

We look forward to seeing the insights on Canada’s present fiscal situation and how the budget lays out the roadmap to economic recovery.

If you need any assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out —
250-470-5075 or t[email protected].


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About the Author

Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Export Promotion and International Trade.

She also serves on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and is a member of the National Caucus Committees Credit Union Caucus, Wine Caucus, and Aviation Caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the year, and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, on the Passenger Transportation Board 2010-2012, and elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library as a Trustee and was chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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