The Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce held a roundtable July 6 to discuss healthcare, public transit, taxes, and other local issues.
Scott Wheatley hosted three Liberal MLAs and one Liberal candidate.
“We had a good conversation,” said Wheatley, the executive director of the Cloverdale Chamber. “It wasn’t an official question and answer thing—more of an informal roundtable.”
Wheatley hosted finance critic Peter Milobar, MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson; critic for Energy and LNG Ellis Ross, MLA for Skeena; critic for agriculture Ian Paton, MLA for Delta South; and Surrey South Liberal candidate Elenore Sturko.
Wheatley said everyone in attendance had a lot to say about the new Cloverdale hospital. He said if the Liberals were to get elected and construction on the new hospital has already started, then they’d leave it as is.
“They said, given their druthers, if construction hasn’t started, they’d like to rethink the new hospital,” added Wheatley. “They think it shouldn’t just be a cancer clinic, especially Elenore Sturko, who is very passionate about the fact that it should have pediatrics and a new maternity ward because this region is underserved in both those areas of healthcare.”
According to Wheatley, Sturko was concerned about how the province was going to find enough workers for the new hospital too.
“The consensus was, right now, there’s not enough workers for Surrey Memorial or for Peace Arch,” said Wheatley. “Then you put another hospital into the mix, where are those workers going to come from?”
He said everyone agreed there is a definite need to accelerate training for workers in not only healthcare, but in other fields as well, such as veterinary medicine.
Wheatley said the timeline for the new hospital was also discussed.
“Adrian Dix did his big announcement a couple days ago about how the hospital will be completed by 2027, but Milobar said the hospital in Kamloops just opened and it took 10 years,” explained Wheatley. “He said, ‘There’s no way they’ll get a hospital here in five years.’”
The people at the roundtable also discussed the high cost of gas. Wheatley said the three MLAs believe the NDP should reduce the provincial gas tax to help consumers at the pump for the short term, but not the carbon tax.
“The MLAs said the government shouldn’t reduce the carbon tax right now, because if they do, the feds will just step in to fill that gap and replace the provincial tax with a federal tax,” said Wheatley. “Then that carbon tax money just goes out of the province.”
Wheatley said the roundtable also discussed addiction and homelessness and that Sturko had a lot to say about the opioid crisis and that she was “very passionate about” the topic.
“Ian Paton also said ALR land use needs to be rethought. In the ’70s, when they red-circled all these areas, he said they hadn’t really thought it through. He said there’s areas in the ALR that don’t need to be in the ALR because they’re not farmable.”
Wheatley said the roundtable also discussed problems facing small farmers, that small farmers are finding it harder and harder to stay in business.
Wheatley explained the roundtable was initiated by the Liberal MLAs and that they were visiting various Chambers and BIAs.
Wheatley also said he extended an invitation to Mike Starchuk and the NDP to also have a roundtable at the Chamber at some point in the future.