The people of Mission “better be scared.”
That’s the warning Liberal candidate Chelsa Meadus delivered on Tuesday night during a virtual all-candidates meeting – held by the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce – for the riding of Maple-Ridge-Mission.
Meadus was speaking about homelessness and warned residents that they could go through the same issues as Maple Ridge, if the NDP get back in power.
She said Maple Ridge was forced to take on a housing project in the downtown core after a homeless camp was dismantled.
“A housing project that has brought nothing but crime and degradation to the neighbourhood and has decreased our businesses,” said Trenholm.
She mentioned a petition with 10,000 signatures against the project that she says NDP incumbent Bob D’Eith ignored.
“You better be scared because I see what’s happening in Mission is you have pockets of challenges with homeless people. Those pockets turn into a camp and the NDP have been quoted as looking at legalizing these camps. These horrific camps that breed rats and infections and terrible situations for people.”
D’Eith said he didn’t think saying we should be fearful is helpful.
“I think division in the community is the wrong approach. I think we have to work together.”
D’Eith said people who are homeless “are our neighbours, our brothers, sisters and friends.
“The BC Liberals found money for tax breaks for the wealthy but did absolutely nothing for homelessness. Homelessness tripled under the BC Liberals.”
He said action was taken in Maple Ridge to resolve the tent city by providing supportive housing.
“We have a Ministry dedicated to mental health and addictions. We have a ministry that created a poverty reduction plan.”
Green Party candidate Matt Trenholm called homelessness a serious issue in the Fraser Valley and all over BC.
“What needs to be done is a multi-pronged approach to homelessness. It has to start with youth. It has to start with proper early childhood education … another aspect is mental health,” said Trenholm. “What we need and what the Green Party would fight for, is mental health services to be incorporated into MSP premiums.”
Trenholm also said he hears “that Chelsa is upset but what I didn’t hear was any solutions to the problem. I’m just hearing more of the status quo.”
Meadus said the Liberal plan is about supporting people individually.
“What treatment program or protocol works for you, does not work for me.”
There were several, lively discussions about local and provincial issues during the meeting. When asked about incentives for energy efficient and environmentally-friendly home improvements, the subject morphed into a PST debate.
Meadus felt people who are now stuck at home and doing a lot of renovations, may not be considering the environment as much as they could be.
“However, I can tell you that under the current government, it’s very difficult to know what the targets are. Our local governments have no idea what the targets are that they need to be meeting.”
She pointed to the Liberal plan to eliminate the PST for the first year, calling it an incentive for people to buy those sometimes more expensive products that are environmentally friendly.
Trenholm said people “certainly do need incentives to encourage people to renovate their homes using energy-efficient means,” adding it would help to reduce the carbon footprint, make homes more fuel efficient and using less energy.
“It’s also economically good for the local economy because it insentivizes people to renovate their homes which creates construction jobs.”
He also said incentives don’t come from thin air.
“We could dip into the $1-billion of tax cuts and incentives that the fracking industry gets.”
D’Eith said people have to face the fact that climate change is real, noting how we have experienced more wildfires, flooding and severe weather patterns.
“But the BC Liberals, when they were in power, they ignored their own climate leadership panel and abandoned action to meet the climate targets.”
He said NDP worked with the Green Party and Dr. Weaver to develop Clean BC which he called the most ambitious climate action plan in the continent.
He also addressed Meadus’ comments on the PST and purchasing expensive items.
“Cutting PST only helps the wealthy… it’s an $8-billion cut from revenue in the middle of COVID, when we need that money.”
He added that things which are important to people – food, car insurance – are already exempt. He called it a “foolhardy” plan.
That’s when the rebuttal cards began to come out.
Meadus said “the PST will generate the economy. The NDP seems to think that all money always comes from the taxpayer. Let’s face it people, of all incomes, buy clothing get their cars repaired, these are all items on PST.”
She said she is raising three kids on her own and doesn’t consider herself wealthy, but still has to buy shoes and clothes for her children and get her car fixed.
“That’s the whole difference, the NDP does not understand economics.”
D’Eith used his rebuttal to point out his government has run three consecutive balanced budgets, have the lowest unemployment in Canada, and have a triple A credit rating,.
“Don’t tell us we can’t run the economy, we know all about that.”
He also referenced Meadus’ comment of buying clothing for her kids, pointing out that PST is exempt from children’s clothing.
Trenholm also used his rebuttal to say “cutting the PST would not be in favour of British Columbians in general. Taking approximately $8-billion out of the tax-generating money would do nothing.” He said the government would either seek that money elsewhere, like income tax, or reduce social services.
Asked about Mission’s need for a new sewer line across the Fraser River, Trenholm said action needs to be taken.
“As Mission continues to grow, the aging sewer infrastructure is something that needs to be addressed quickly.
“There needs to be engagement between municipalities, between provincial government and to formulate a good plan, like in any other facet, there needs to be experts brought in.”
Meadus said there is a flaw in the system and different levels of government aren’t working together.
“This isn’t a new project and it isn’t a new challenge and yet you aren’t getting anywhere with it… This isn’t something that the provincial government can just fix, we need to have buy in from a federal level.”
She called herself a “community builder” saying we all need to work together.
D’Eith said it is interesting to hear talk of not working together.
“In fact, this is a perfect example of how, in a non-partisan way, we are already working together.”
He said he has worked with Conservative MP Brad Vis, who has been lobbying Ottawa, and with Mission Council.
“It is very much on the provincial radar as an important, priority project … We all know that a sewage pipe failure in the Fraser River would be devastating for the environment.”
He called it a non-partisan issue
The three candidates also tackled the issue of the Mission Hospital and its need for health care improvements, including a CT scanner.
“Mission Hospital desperately needs a CT scanner,” said Trenholm. In today’s day and age it’s essential to have that type of equipment in a hospital for the population to have proper diagnosis of a multitude of ailments.
Trenholm added that his background is in health care, including imaging. He said engaging with stakeholders, putting together proper business proposals and engaging with the Ministry, hospital directors and potential donors would help to “fund the installation of a scanner and the staff to do so.”
D’Eith said right from the beginning, when he took office, there was a need shown for a CT Scanner.
“There is a feasibility study on right now for that. I have been advocating extremely hard. I advocated right from the beginning with the Ministry of Health and I will continue to advocate.”
He said patients currently have to go to Abbotsford for the scans, adding there is even more that needs to be done for health care in general.
Meadus said the BC Liberal leader is a doctor, which is one of the things that attracted her to the party.
“If ever you are going to have a leader who understands healthcare, one would think it would be one who is a doctor.”
She said as an MLA her job would be to advocate for the public, to work with partners and stakeholders and find out the needs of Mission stakeholders.
Other subjects discussed during the meeting included ICBC, affordable housing, outdoor recreation and more.
To view the entire debate, visit the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page.
On Oct. 8, at 6 p.m. the chamber will host candidates from the Abbotsford-Mission riding for a virtual meeting.