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Photos: Tri-Cities' four MLAs field questions in Coquitlam from biz crowd

MLAs Selina Robinson, Mike Farnworth, Rick Glumac and Fin Donnelly were at Lunch with Leaders today, Feb. 2, 2024.

There were barbs about Surrey Police Force transition, but no mention about the calls for Selina Robinson’s resignation this week as the Tri-Cities’ four MLAs faced a business crowd today, Feb. 2, in Coquitlam.

The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce hosted its sold-out Lunch with Leaders at the Vancouver Golf Club, which saw the BC NDP’s Robinson (Coquitlam–Maillardville); Mike Farnworth (Port Coquitlam); Fin Donnelly (Coquitlam–Burke Mountain); and Rick Glumac (Port Moody–Coquitlam) answer questions from Chamber CEO Leslie Courchesne, as well as a few from the floor.

The event, which drew local business and civic leaders from across the Tri-Cities including former Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore, came the same week Robinson — B.C.’s minister for post-secondary education and future skills — was criticized for her remarks about referring to the origins of Israel on “a crappy piece of land with nothing on it.”

She issued an apology after an uproar on social media; Premier David Eby also put out a statement condemning her comments.

At today’s gathering at the golf club, the Chamber stayed on script and focused mostly on small business, asking the MLAs — of which all four are running for re-election on Oct. 19, 2024 — about Budget 2024, Canada–US relations, the shortage of industrial land in the Lower Mainland and the housing crunch, in general.

Mike Forrest, a former PoCo city councillor, inquired about the co-governance and co-management of Crown land with the First Nations, of which the right-wing Fraser Institute has taken issue, while Moore, the board chair of the Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation, reiterated his group’s request for an MRI at the Port Moody hospital.

Another business leader asked about capping commercial leases, which have risen up to 40 per cent since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robinson responded that policy updates are now being considered to the outdated provincial legislation.

“It is one of those challenging areas for us,” she said.

Farnworth said the provincial government is also eyeing the idea of creating an Industrial Land Reserve, similar to the Agricultural Land Reserve, to preserve industrial lands for the long term.

“We need to use land more efficiently,” he said.