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Enjoying time in the Cariboo-Chilcotin this summer

Cariboo-Chilcoltin MLA Lorne Doerkson’s column to the Free Press

The summertime always feels like it’s full of millions of possibilities — outdoor adventures, time spent with friends and family, and exciting community events. With school out for the season, many people are planning and setting out on their summer vacations, whether across the world or close to home.

Cariboo-Chilcotin is already starting to experience an increase in people travelling through the region, as well as vacationing in this area, enjoying the incredible tourism opportunities we have to offer. Visitors are always blown away by the incredible natural beauty of this part of the province, eagerly exploring local attractions, trails, and our welcoming communities. From hiking and fishing to canoeing and wildlife viewing, there is so much to see and do throughout Cariboo-Chilcotin for tourists and locals alike.

In fact, I know that many of our residents are planning to spend more time closer to home this summer. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know our own communities and to grow our appreciation for this place we get to live. Choosing a ‘staycation’ has also become more popular in Cariboo-Chilcotin as a result of growing cost pressures and worsening affordability — staying in the region is a more affordable alternative at a time when everything is getting more expensive by the day.

And while I fully support, and encourage, staycations and spending more time in Cariboo-Chilcotin, I certainly do worry about rising costs and the fact that so many people are being forced to make sacrifices in every part of their lives to make ends meet, whether it’s what they buy in the grocery store or their vacation options. Right now, even the bare necessities like food, housing, and transportation are being pushed out of reach for so many British Columbians.

A recent study found that B.C. is the most unaffordable province in Canada, and we’ve noticed the impacts of inflation and the affordability crisis right here at home. Gas prices remain at astronomical highs, housing prices continue to rise, and groceries like butter and meat products are costing more than ever before.

People shouldn’t have to worry about choosing between buying gas or affording groceries, making rent or taking their family on a much-deserved summer holiday. Government simply cannot let affordability continue to worsen without taking tangible action.

There are simple measures, like temporarily suspending gas taxes or removing PST from used vehicle purchases as I’ve mentioned before, that could provide immediate relief to people across the province. But there are also measures like increasing housing supply and government finally delivering more affordable childcare spaces that will make a difference in the long-term.

This summer, I hope that we see action on these important issues, to help all British Columbians make ends meet and allow people and their families to truly thrive.

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