Tony Harris

Made in Nanaimo, For Nanaimo

Vision & Priorities

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I love Nanaimo — the city where I grew up, that I’ve chosen to raise my family in, and that has given me everything I have.

Nanaimo’s population has more than doubled since I was born — but investment and attention just haven’t kept up. Our city has too often been taken for granted by governments at all levels and politicians of all stripes.

The by-election on January 30 is a chance to change that. An opportunity to put Nanaimo back on the map where it belongs, and attract our fair share of attention and investment.

That’s why I’m running to be your MLA — to be a strong voice for Nanaimo, a representative that won’t be pushed around by anyone.

I will continue to do my part to build our community, whether I am elected or not. The ideas I’ve promoted through this campaign won’t all get done quickly — but if we don’t think big, we will continue to be held back.

These are not just my priorities — they’re yours, and I thank you for sharing them with me throughout this campaign.

If you hire me to be your MLA, I’ll work my tail off for you. I will be an MLA for all Nanaimoites, no matter how they vote. And, working together, we’ll finally reach our community’s full potential.

Health Care

Ensuring Nanamoites have access to local health care

My passion for health care comes from years of involvement in our local hospital foundation, helping to raise funds for much-needed equipment and services.

As our community has grown, our health care services haven’t kept up. My priority is to bring more services to our community so residents can get the health care they need right here at home. This must include enhanced supports for those struggling, or at risk of struggling, with opioid and other substance use challenges – including accessible treatment options, outreach, and de-stigmatization.

The commitment to additional health care facilities is great news for Nanaimo, but it shouldn’t take a by-election for Nanaimo to get the attention we deserve – we should matter all the time. NRGH needs funding from Island Health for a high acuity unit now. And we need enhanced cancer treatment so radiation therapy patients north of the Malahat don’t have to travel to Victoria when they’re battling cancer.

As Nanaimo grows, we should be working towards a full tertiary hospital serving the whole Mid and North Island. 

Health Care Investment in Nanaimo

The commitment to a new ICU is great news for Nanaimo, but there's a lot more work to do on health care investment in our community. NRGH needs funding from Island Health for a high acuity unit now. And we need enhanced cancer treatment so radiation therapy patients...

Tony Harris will work for new ICU, expanded cancer care in Nanaimo

NANAIMO – Tony Harris, BC Liberal candidate for the upcoming Nanaimo by-election, says the city needs a new intensive care unit and expanded cancer treatment now, and if elected he will fight to get this done. Harris has been out in the community talking to voters and...

Indigenous Relations

Support for reconciliation

I grew up on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people and have also had the opportunity to work very closely with them on projects of mutual interest.

Governments of all levels must ensure they are working proactively with Indigenous communities and in Nanaimo the Snuneymuxw leaders and their people in particular.

I am committed to the reconciliation process and I believe there is also ample opportunity to work collaboratively with them on mutually beneficial economic and social priorities in the region, including plans for future ideas around recognition of Coast Salish culture and history through collaborative planning here in Nanaimo.

Transportation & Transit

Creating a Nanaimo-Victoria-Vancouver transportation triangle

Nanaimo is the transportation hub of the Mid- and North Island, and as more Nanaimoites commute to Vancouver for work and people from the Mainland come to the Island for all that we have to offer, the time is now to get a foot passenger ferry between the two cities.

Our transit and infrastructure is lacking as the focus continues to be on the Lower Mainland and Victoria. I will champion more transportation infrastructure and transit investment for Nanaimo.

We need more transit service and options to ensure less people are stuck idling on Hwy 1 and make it easier to move throughout the city, including bringing ridesharing and updates to the taxi industry that provide people with convenient, safe, and affordable transportation.

Tony Harris Says time is Now for Nanaimo Foot Passenger Ferry

Nanaimo – Tony Harris says the time is now to get more people moving between the Island and the Lower Mainland, and believes the opportunity is there for a foot passenger ferry service from Nanaimo harbour to Vancouver harbour. “Nanaimo is the economic hub of the Mid...

Affordable Housing

More supply, not more tax

I believe strongly that young people should aspire toward home ownership and if they put in the work, that opportunity should be available to them. 

We know this is getting more and more difficult and we can all agree it needs to be fixed.

The current government believes more taxation will make housing more affordable. This won’t work. What is needed is more supply, particularly when it comes to multi-family rental and a range of attainable housing options for all income levels.

We need to challenge our Mayor and Council to cut red tape and speed up the building permit process, while also identifying and up-zoning properties so we can speed up the supply of housing. With Nanaimo’s population growing at 7% a year, the only way to ease the affordability burden is to outpace growth with supply.

Governments should also consider how they can incentivize smart development that includes affordable and subsidized units.

I’m committed to advocating for more supply, less tax and pulling governments and builders together to identify solutions that will work and keep the home ownership dream alive for young, hard-working Nanaimo families.

Taxes

Bringing some common sense to tax policy

We need fairness and common sense when it comes to tax policy in Victoria.

The Employer Health Tax is having a negative impact on the bottom lines of local small businesses and their ability to hire more people. In order to pay this tax, businesses throughout Nanaimo are saying they now have to rethink every hire they were considering, or even look at reducing their workforce.

We need to ensure we can afford to pay for important services like health care and education, but not by over-taxing people and businesses to the point that jobs are being lost and Nanaimo’s economy is at risk.

There is also the unfair speculation tax, which is a regressive tax that doesn’t work for Nanaimo. The government refused to exempt Nanaimo from the speculation tax – even though places like Parksville and Qualicum, with higher average home prices, got a pass. This is a tax that slows construction of new housing, putting jobs at risk and putting us further behind on supply of new housing – the real solution to affordability challenges. To add insult to injury, the Province will consider all Nanaimo homeowners to be speculators unless they can prove otherwise.

The current government has imposed 19 new and increased taxes since 2017. This is not affordable for hard-working Nanaimo families.

Emergency Preparedness

Ensuring the Hub City is ready

The storm that hit Nanaimo and other communities in late 2018 is an important reminder to all of us just how vulnerable we are to these types of natural events.

As the Hub City of the Island, it is essential that should a catastrophic event occur, the city’s systems and infrastructure are able to handle the immediate requirement for critical services and the movement of food and supplies that the entire Island would need. The economic and transportation triangle between Vancouver and Victoria is a huge opportunity to create new jobs that support our hard-working local families, but it also means our infrastructure needs to keep up with that growth and be resilient against natural disasters.

Environment

Protecting and preserving our natural surroundings

As someone who grew up in our community and has always marvelled at our supernatural beauty, I believe in protecting our environment so that our kids and theirs can enjoy our region just as so many of us have.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing our resident orcas in the Salish Sea and I want those orcas to be there forever.

I am committed to supporting environmental initiatives that preserve our environment and help combat climate change. I will also champion development and growth that is sustainable.

Education

Making Nanaimo an educational destination

As our economy shifts towards ideas and solutions to address climate change, VIU is perfectly positioned to develop and deliver an environmental and economic sustainability program that provides students with the tools required to work and succeed within that new economy.

With working adults seeking educational opportunities years into their careers, VIU can meet this demand with more executive education programs. Particularly, an executive education program focused on sustainable innovation and environmental entrepreneurship that would attract entrepreneurs and business leaders from all over the world. As the timeline for a tertiary hospital becomes clear, VIU could develop and offer more medical and nursing programs. These are programs that can train students in Nanaimo and support the attraction and retention of more medical services professionals as the local hospital continues to expand.

This approach will also bring more medical sector employment. As we know, these types of programs often bring with them investment by the sector, such as biotech, and the high paying jobs that come with them – something Nanaimo needs more of.

As we look to exciting new innovations and ideas in post-secondary, we cannot lose sight that our K-12 system is foundational to our success as a society. I will commit to ensuring Nanaimo is receiving its fair share of investment in our public school system from Victoria. 

Tony Harris outlines bold vision for Vancouver Island University

Nanaimo – Tony Harris issued the following statement on Vancouver Island University’s  incredible potential: “First, I would like to acknowledge that Nanaimo is becoming a university town and we should be proud of that; Go Mariners! Vancouver Island University...

Technology

Creating a tech hub in our city

Nanaimo has a tremendous opportunity to become British Columbia’s newest technology hub and attract more businesses and workers to the city. B.C.’s tech sector continues to grow and now employs well over 100,000 workers across the province.

Manufacturing and Technology Entrepreneurship Council (MTEC) should be sufficiently funded so the organization can be the ‘front door’ for companies and entrepreneurs to consider locating to Nanaimo.

Nanaimo’s Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-Island Business Initiative, the existing tech sector and our new Mayor all support creating a technology hub in our city, which will expand the sector and create new opportunity for Nanaimo.

Port Expansion

A transformative opportunity for our Hub City

Nanaimo has an opportunity to transform our port at the Duke Point Terminal into a regional logistics hub and international gateway for goods moving to and from Vancouver Island and I’m encouraging the federal and provincial governments to help make it happen.

The vast majority of goods moving to and from Vancouver Island are transported by sea. With no fixed link to the mainland, a more efficient and resilient marine transportation system is needed to ensure the economic future of the region.

Vancouver Island accounts for 14% of the province’s economy and needs a more efficient marine transportation system to ensure our economy continues to grow.

The increased economic benefit of an expanded port to our hard-working families has the potential to be a game-changer for Nanaimo. It will grow our economy and create new, well-paid jobs – many of them unionized – as well as many spin off and supportive jobs throughout the community.

Homelessness and Poverty Reduction

Temporary and permanent supportive housing

Nanaimoites deserve to have their voices heard, and to feel safe in their neighbourhoods, parks, and public places.

I support BC Housing’s efforts to move people out of the downtown tent city and into supportive housing.

However, as governments and the community take the next steps in tackling these challenges, this process needs to include meaningful engagement with neighbourhoods and residents.

We need to do better — and I will. We need supportive housing, but it must come with the additional mental health services needed to meet the demands of our most vulnerable, and measures to keep our neighbourhoods safe. As Mayor Krog said, “the provincial response to the homelessness and tent city crisis [has been] ‘clumsily-handled to say the least. And unfortunately, the victims of it are many.'” (Nanaimo News Now, January 14)

Everyone deserves a roof over their head, and homelessness is a complex issue, often rooted in mental health and addiction challenges, that must be met with compassion for those who are impacted, while also being firm with those who are intentionally disruptive or committing crimes.

We need the government to work more closely with the community on made-in-Nanaimo solutions to address both homelessness and child poverty. 

Crime

Keeping our neighbourhoods and community safe

Nanaimoites are compassionate people who care about their neighbours and their community. We know that many people who break the law have mental health and addictions challenges that need full-spectrum solutions.

Those that need access to services to support dealing with these issues must have the supports available to them. However, there are also those who knowingly and intentionally break the law. These individuals who make our streets and families less safe must be dealt with assertively and know that crime will not be tolerated in our city.

As our city grows, we need to maintain that small town feeling that our kids can safely play on our streets without fear of danger

Child Care

More spaces, more providers

Child care is a critical issue for hard working families in Nanaimo and we need government to start thinking creatively about how we can deliver more affordable child care spaces in our city.

As the NDP government moves away from market-based child care providers who represent about 80 per cent of the providers in B.C., we need more collaboration between public and private providers as well as between the government and private-sector, not less. I’m calling on government to look at piloting an incentive-based idea for businesses to allocate more physical space in their operations where space is available, convert these spaces into child care facilities and provide business with operators to directly provide the service to families.

While more spaces are needed, so are more child care providers – and it’s the government’s responsibility to boost training and recruitment programs to ensure we have enough providers.

 

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