Alex Atamanenko, NDP Member of Parliament (MP) for the Southern Interior of British Columbia hosted a MP Forum at the Legion Hall on Nov. 14 to give residents an opportunity to hear from their elected officials and to ask questions of them.
To begin, a 10 minute film was shown courtesy of Red Rock Productions. They produced this film featuring highlights of the community in an effort to assist in the attraction and retention of doctors to the community.
Mayor Frank Armitage said, “What wonderful work that is, a picture is worth a million words.”
Mayor Armitage assured the approximately 40 residents in attendance that Council was trying to have an open door policy and that there “is nothing that we can’t talk about,” he said.
Ed Staples, vice president of Save our Hospital Coalition spoke about equality and accessibility in health care.
MLA Harry Lali spoke about the “cookie cutter cuts” happening all over, how he felt the “business model” did not work and encouraged residents that “If you believe in something you don’t give up.”
Solana Allison, president of Save Our Similkameen spoke of how a hospital is the “anchor of any community.” She explained that Princeton was not alone in the struggles with health services, that we were one of 148 municipalities dealing with the same issues. Cuts of transfer payments on the Federal level causing the trickle down effect that we are feeling with health care.
Area H Director Brad Hope said that everyone had covered the issues very well. (The one thing about going last-everything has already been said) He praised the Save our Hospital Coalition for their efforts and spoke very highly of Solana Allison. “Sol was almost embarrasingly persisitant at UBCM, he said, “She was everywhere and hitting everyone up.” We have good people working their butts off – I feel good about what we have in Princeton, we will get there,” he added.
Hope then spoke about the Similkameen Watershed Study, the Official Community Plan, the Simalkameen Valley tourism concept and about how all of the areas communities had their own diversity, but that we were still one big family.
MP Alex Atamanenko agreed with panel concerns as well and spoke of his frustrations when he looks at the big issues. He said that “I get angry when I see what is going on.” For instance, the fight to get funding to bury a war Veteran, his concerns with GMO modification, and the importation of horses for slaughter, just to name a few.
The floor was opened to questions from the residents. Various concerns, solutions and ideas were shared in regards to dealing with government agencies, health care services, centralization and even democracy.
After the question and answer period, closing comments were made by the panelists, whom all made the assurances that their work and efforts to resolve issues would carry on and that communities should not give up. Their closing remarks best summed up by Solana Allison who said, “All the greatest wins in North America came from the grassroots levels. We can do it here.”