Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl says more needs to be done by senior levels of government for flood recovery.
The MP was in Hope last Friday (March 24), visiting the district hall and speaking with Mayor Victor Smith and council about the concerns the district is currently facing.
During his visit, Strahl said he discussed issues of homelessness in Hope, projects with which the district hopes to partner with senior levels of government, and how Hope is still dealing with the “fallout from the flooding in 2021.”
“We knew when it happened that it was going to be a long recovery,” Strahl said. “I think the frustration sometimes is that the local governments know what needs to be done and have done the work to prepare for that recovery. And then it’s getting the senior levels of government to to get on board in a timely fashion.
“I think it’s sometimes hard to get the federal and provincial governments to focus on the smaller communities. An emergency (brings) everyone together and then time passes and the things that we need to do, to ‘build back better,’ those take a lot longer because the urgency is gone. And sometimes it’s tough to get people to focus back on what they said they were going to fix and what needs to be done.”
Strahl said he understands the impact the flood has had on communities and the frustration that people have felt. He said he also understands the importance of fixing infrastructure and strengthening areas – at least back to where they were before – in case of another atmospheric event.
Aside from flood mitigation, Strahl said he has been hearing and seeing concerns about the sudden rising cost of living and how it has been affecting people, especially those on a fixed or lower income.
“The spike in housing costs and food costs have been really, really, hard on a number of people. Some people have been OK, but there are vulnerable people who have felt it especially, (such as) seniors and folks that are on those fixed incomes,” he said.
“It was so sudden and so steep, these inflationary costs and it’s been hard on people. We’ve been trying to focus on it in Ottawa, really focusing on affordability and trying to bring down people’s costs, lower taxes – those sorts of things – because we know that every dollar matters and people are really feeling the pinch.
“So we want to support (service agencies) and support people who are struggling to make ends meet.”
Strahl also recently made the news, talking about how he disagrees with MAiD (medical assistance in dying) being expanded to include those with mental health issues.
“The expansion of medical aid and dying to include people with mental illness and people with developmental disabilities particularly concerns me,” Strahl said. “I think it sends a terrible message that this is a solution to mental illness. We don’t want to give up on people that have mental illness; we want to provide supports for them.
“And I think that’s part of the issue too. Those supports haven’t been there and they haven’t been strong enough.”
This the fourth term for Strahl, a member of the Conservative Party, as the MP for Chilliwack-Hope. He was first elected in 2011, when it was the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding.
His father, Chuck Strahl, was the former MP for the riding and served six terms.
The Chilliwack-Hope riding comprises 76 per cent of the previous electoral district of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon. Communities of this district include Chilliwack and Hope.
In addition to being the MP for the district, Strahl also served three years as the chief opposition whip, served as the shadow minister for labour in 2019, and is currently the shadow minister for transport.
He plans to run for a fifth term.
“My plan is to continue to run in (the next election) and seek a mandate from the people of Chilliwack, ” Strahl said. “The riding is going to change, we believe, maybe for the next election. After 2024 we’ll have a new map and Hope will still be in this riding that I represent. There was some initial map changing but I was pleased to see that Hope will still be with Chilliwack.
“I’m going to take it one term at at time. I think members of Parliament or any elected official should be constantly evaluating whether they still have the energy for the job, they still have a passion for serving their community. And I still have that (passion). I still enjoy the job, and I still want to serve the people in this area.”
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