So it appears Adrian Dix believes we have taken this area “for granted.”

Mr. Dix is trying to rewrite history – again! Perhaps he didn’t realize the irony of his statement when he announced it at the new UBCO campus.

Since Mr. Dix’s party was in government there has been over $180 Million invested into UBCO expanding programs for students in teaching, health sciences, engineering, management, arts and sciences. This allows our local students to complete their education close to home, saving them tens of thousands of dollars. And let’s not forget the new Masters and Doctorate degrees that locals can now get here in the “neglected” Okanagan.

It would have been no less ironic had he made that observation at the Okanagan College campus where I taught business for nine years, and where we now have a new $28 million Centre for Learning. Perhaps if Mr. Dix had spent more time here, he would know it has received rave reviews from students and faculty alike.

If he does choose to stick around for more than a couple of days, he might take the time to enjoy the new bridge, the additional traffic lanes on Highway 97 and the four-laned Highway 33, including the passing lane up Walker’s Hill. Or perhaps he could ride one of the transit buses in our expanded system. Maybe he could take a drive under the new flyover at UBCO through to Lake Country and see the intersection upgrades, or the work currently being done to build a major new highway between Winfield and Oyama.

Perhaps if he returns for the election, he can safely ride his bike with UBCO students and staff over the new bicycle/pedestrian bridge we’re building this fall next to the Ellison overpass, or visit the students at the new Dr. Knox middle school, or play with them in some of our new playgrounds.

So that can’t be why he thinks the Okanagan is “neglected.” Maybe he’s thinking we aren’t building enough social or seniors housing. He obviously doesn’t know about our investment in the recently opened 72-unit Apple Valley housing development for seniors and persons with disabilities, Cedar Court apartments and Blue Heron apartments in Lake Country, Cardington apartments, Willow Bridge transitional housing or Tutt Street apartments for women and children. Or how about the 49-unit Newgate building near completion in Rutland?

No, that can’t be it, either.

Or maybe it’s our investment in parks around Kelowna and Lake Country. Perhaps he hasn’t had the opportunity to swim in our new H2O centre or skate in front of city hall at Stewart Park like many of us enjoyed doing this winter. Everybody’s welcome, Mr. Dix. Maybe I’ll see you there.

But please don’t tell me he’s thinking we’ve taken our neighbours “for granted” on Healthcare.  Nearly a billion dollars invested between Kelowna and Vernon hospitals are expanding services that will improve and save lives. A new UBCO medical program is helping our children go to medical school right here at home. Very soon we will see a new heart and surgical centre – not only saving lives of the people we represent, but people from all around the Interior.

I challenge Mr. Dix to compare what his party invested into the region in the ’90s with our government’s total. He won’t, because he knows we’ve invested over five times more than they did. And yet he says the Okanagan is “neglected.” Ridiculous.

Mr. Dix, thank you for bringing your caucus here. Our hotels and restaurants can always use more business. Perhaps next time you’re in town you can cut the political games and talk about your ideas. How will you expand the economy, given the horrible job your government did of that in the ‘90s? What are your plans for sustaining and improving our health care system within a balanced budget?

Mr. Dix, our government and Okanagan MLAs have never taken this area “for granted,” and we never will. Much has been done, there is much more to do, and I believe the best way to get there is to continue sending a strong, united, free enterprise Okanagan voice to Victoria.

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