BY AMAN SINGH
NDP MLA for Richmond-Queensborough
THE week before last, I had the chance to visit people and organizations in the Fraser Valley with my colleagues from the BC New Democrat caucus. I saw firsthand how the Fraser Valley contributes to our day to day lives and the health of B.C.’s economy.
One of the stops on our visit was Van Maren Farms in Chilliwack, which is part of the resurgence of BC’s hazelnut industry.
Once a thriving sector, hazelnut trees in B.C. have been severely impacted in recent years by the Eastern Filbert Blight, an infection that damages trees and crops. But thanks to the hard work and dedication of farmers like Cornel Van Maren, and a collaboration with researchers to develop trees that are resistant to infection, the industry is now poised for a strong comeback.
We’re proud of the resilience of these farmers, and that’s why our government is supporting BC’s hazelnut growers to remove infected trees and plant new ones, so they can continue to grow their businesses. Supporting food producers in the Fraser Valley strengthens our province’s food security and gives us all more delicious local food to try.
On our trip we also visited the Stave West Forest and Recreational Area in Mission, which is a great example of collaboration between provincial and municipal governments, and local First Nations, to steward a beautiful and productive forest.
Set within B.C.’s oldest community-managed forest, the recreational area offers lakes, camp sites, and hiking trails for people to enjoy. Since the start of the pandemic, people across B.C. have been especially eager to get outside to boost their mental and physical health, and areas like this give them more nature to explore.
The success of Stave West shows how recreational enjoyment of our forests can co-exist with sustainable forestry operations. Forestry and tourism are both industries that support many hardworking families in the Fraser Valley, and both are key parts of our economic recovery plan.
The Fraser Valley is a beautiful, diverse, and resilient part of our province. Like everyone in B.C., people here have been pulling together throughout a difficult pandemic to keep themselves and their communities safe.
When it comes to the pandemic, we aren’t out of the woods yet. But I know that people in the Fraser Valley will continue to work hard and look out for each other. The resilience and collaboration I got to see last week is what will help us get through this challenge and chart a course for a strong recovery.