Less than two weeks since the election, and MLA-elect for Chilliwack-Hope Laurie Throness is already fielding requests for support from the community. The former Chief of Staff for Chuck Strahl will officially take the reins after all the ballots are counted, sometime in June.
“Everything is brand new, we’re all feeling our way in this,” said Throness.
The Progress sat down with Throness to find out what Chilliwack can expect under his leadership. Here is the edited interview.
The lack of mass public transit connecting Chilliwack to other municipalities has long been a challenge. What will you do about this?
It’s a developing situation, because public transit is a function of population, and so even in Vancouver, where they have a population of over three million people and they give about $232 million rides per year, they struggle with funding their system. There are all sorts of problems with that. We can’t expect that this will be an easy situation…As the population in the Valley grows, I think we can expect more public transit.
Why aren’t we taking better advantage of available provincial transit funding?
I’m not sure. And that’s one of the things I want to investigate.
The Chilliwack school district’s $56 million capital plan was recently put on ‘high priority’ by the Ministry of Education, but no funding has been committed. How will you push for continued funding to the district?
Chilliwack has been extremely well-served by the Ministry in the past. And you look at Rosedale Traditional school, you look at UFV campus, you look at upgrades to schools here, you look at the new senior high school. I think we can trust that the Ministry will continue to serve as well, as it has in the past. We have a great history here, and we hope to continue that.
The Chilliwack hospital is one of the most congested in the province, according to B.C. emergency doctors. Fraser Health can be inaccessible for residents, and many will visit local MLAs for support. What’s your plan for improving healthcare in Chilliwack?
The plan for healthcare is to continue prioritizing it on a provincial basis. Locally, we’ve just added a new emergency unit that is second to none in the province…Perhaps any congestion in the emergency ward is a reflection of the very fine service that we offer.
With respect to the Fraser Health Authority, I think it could use some work on its communications and as MLA, I would want to transmit that message, which I think was pretty clearly given in the last couple of months on the chlorination issue.
And what about getting a dialysis unit for Chilliwack?
A year ago, I said that I would ask the Minister of Health for some kind of assessment of the needs in the area. We recognize that there can’t be a dialysis clinic in every town of B.C., but I promise that I would go to the Minister of Health and ask for a reassessment. I will do that. What we want to do is to compare the services that are provided to other population bases, and to make sure that we are treated on an equal footing.
When residents come to your office with a problem, what can they expect from you?
They’re going to be greeted with a service-oriented office, and an office that is eager to help with their problems, and to negotiate their way through the provincial public service. Already I’m being asked to help on a number of different issues. So I’ve already begun the job. I’m a hard worker, I’m service-oriented…I’m a problem solver, and I intend to apply those skills and that energy to the people of Chilliwack-Hope.
MLA-elect Laurie Throness can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org@theprogress.com twitter.com/alinakonevski