Affordability for average British Columbians and the Aevitas waste recycling site were hot topics in Chilliwack this week.
B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan, and Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James were at Decades Coffee Club on Wednesday to meet with about 20 residents to hear a range of views and concerns.
It was a quick “post-budget tour” of the eastern Fraser Valley for the NDP heavyweights, and the talks touched on everything from the B.C. budget failings, to dwindling salmon habitat, and the potential risks if the Aevitas facility gets built in Chilliwack.
Horgan stated it was a “cynicism” about the system that makes people distrustful when government offers assurances that “everything will be fine, don’t worry” as in the case of the hazardous waste recycling plant by Aevitas Inc., now awaiting provincial review.
Provincial officials recently told The Progress if the Aevitas plant “was not safe, it would not be built.”
“People in Chilliwack should be concerned,” he said. “There is a strong desire to protect habitat and several underlined the importance of the Fraser River in our discussions.”
Affordability for average citizens is always a big NDP priority.
While costs are going up in all kind of areas, Horgan noted, from hydro rates, to MSP and other hikes, wages have stayed very flat in B.C., and that’s been frustrating for a lot of people.
James pointed out low and middle income earners needed a real break, and not the “insult” of a tiny minimum wage increase, and a tax break for the highest paid.
“People don’t expect the government to do everything for them. But the government actually makes it hard,” she said.
Some were not happy to see a big tax cut in the budget for the top two per cent of wage earners that cost $230 million, said Horgan, nor are they happy with ongoing cuts to education or health.
The purpose of the mini-tour was getting those messages across, said the Opposition leader.
“We need to keep showing up, and talking to people like this,” said Horgan. “We want to have them recognize that their values are the same as our values.”