Home News by Region Colwood Mitzi Dean pleased about constituency accomplishments during the pandemic

Mitzi Dean pleased about constituency accomplishments during the pandemic

Popular west shore MLA working hard across the community.

mitzi dean, mla, nov 2021
Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean (MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin) was very pleased to announce the new Westshore Community Health Centre that will open in Spring 2022 [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends / Nov 12, 2021]

Sunday February 20, 2022 | COLWOOD, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Mitzi Dean, MLA is a household name in her constituency of Esquimalt-Metchosin. Even though the full constituency footprint is not in the riding name, the constituency does also include Colwood, View Royal, Songhees and Scia’New Nations.

All of it together is a community that is economically-diverse, neighbourhood-vibrant and facing up squarely to its challenges, and Dean is enthusiastic about her commitment to the full scope of it all.

Chatting with Island Social Trends on a Friday afternoon after two years of pandemic, there’s a lot to explore with the popular MLA.

BC Family Day, 2020 logo
BC Family Day

The list of Mitzi Dean’s accomplishments as an MLA and her constituency office is long. Something to celebrate on this BC Family Day weekend.

Constituency office work:

Virtual meetings have been key to connecting with constituents and community organizations throughout the pandemic.

Every constituency office in BC depends heavily on constituency assistants. MLA Dean’s staff has put robust effort into a wide range of supports for constituents through the various phases of the pandemic — even helping print BC Vaccine Cards, receiving comments and questions from constituents, and connecting them with resources.

The Esquimalt-Metchosin constituency office at 104-1497 Admirals Rd isn’t fully re-opened yet due to COVID public health restrictions. But that will come.

mitzi dean, child care
Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) announced the opening of a new child care facility at the West Shore Parks & Recreation building in Colwood, Dec 6, 2021. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Dean and her staff have heard a lot about pandemic-impacts from her constituents, which she has passed along to Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix and appreciated having that opportunity to be part of the journey.

Many of her constituents have been impacted by the restrictions on long-term care during the pandemic, especially when family members couldn’t see each other in person along the way.

Connecting with people:

“Since I was first elected, my priority has been to make sure I am informed on what is going on in our communities and to advocate for the unique needs of people from Esquimalt-Metchosin,” says Dean.

“The conversations that I have with people in our community are key to this, whether they take place at local community events, in meetings, or even in the grocery store line-up.”

Connecting with business:

In the early the part of the pandemic Dean was having regular meetings with leadership and businesses of the Westshore Chamber of Commerce and Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce.

mayors, west shore
Westshore Chamber of Commerce participants addressed the systemic racism issue during their Vision Westshore event via Zoom on June 11, 2020. Top row (from left): Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, View Royal Mayor David Screech, Highlands Mayor Ken Williams. Middle row (from left): Langford Acting Mayor Lillian Szpak, Colwood Mayor Rob Martin, SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar. Bottom row (from left): Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin), Westshore Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Lawlor. [Screenshot]

“Through my community office, we distributed lawn signs that said ‘We’re all in this together’ to recognize everyone’s part in keeping our community safe.” The office also put together support packages for businesses as various government provincial public health orders and any business-related announcements came out during the pandemic.

“The Chambers did a great job of helping to keep businesses going and open,” says Dean. She encourages her community to support local businesses.

Outdoor events & grand openings:

As pandemic risks and restrictions eased over the past two years, Dean was able to be able to meet more people in-person outdoors. That included events and grand openings:

upcc, esquimalt, mitzi dean
Official opening of the Urgent Primary Care Centre in Esquimalt on December 6, 2022 was attended by Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) and Chair of the CRD Hospital Board, Denise Blackwell. [BC Govt]
Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship
Mitzi Dean, MLA, visiting the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship for its inaugural transit of the Northwest Passage which concluded in CFB Esquimalt. [supplied]
handy dart, view royal
Mitzi Dean, MLA celebrating at the location of the new handyDART facility in View Royal, set to open in 2024. [supplied]
Cool Aid Mobile health clinic
Mitzi Dean, MLA visiting the Cool Aid Mobile health clinic during its bi-weekly visit to Esqumalt’s Rainbow Kitchen.

My Vision for BC’ Contest:

mitzi dean
Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development [file: Oct 27, 2021]

“My constituency of EsquimaltMetchosin is the only constituency in the province that has a ‘My Vision for B.C.’ contest. We developed that at our office,” Dean says proudly.

The winning student from high-schools across Esquimalt-Metchosin gets to be an ‘MLA for a day’. The winner(s) are invited to the Legislature where Mitzi Dean will introduce them to the House and share their idea about a vision for the province.

“Like last year, we will be monitoring the COVID-19 health guidelines closely in order to determine whether we can accommodate the shadowing at the Legislature. If granted, the winner(s) will have a private lunch with me, learn about my work at the Legislature, get a tour of the parliamentary building, and audiences with both the Speaker and the Clerk of the House. We might even be able to arrange a quick photo with one of my colleagues,” she says with a bit of a sparkle.

my vision, bc, mitzi dean
Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) with My Vision for BC Contest Winner Peyton Yip. [supplied]

Students are encouraged to identify an issue and submit ideas on how to address it.

This year’s winner, Peyton Yip proposed the elimination of defensive architecture, also known as anti-homeless architecture, and instead encouraged compassionate solutions for people experiencing homelessness.

monk office, 70th

Career day with students:

Mitzi Dean will be participating in the annual Career Day at Royal Bay Secondary School in Colwood this year, coming up next month. It will be a chance to describe what it’s like to be an MLA.

Mitzi chuckles, saying she expects to be describing to students how “no two days are the same”. Her aim is to always be as flexible as possible as she serves dynamic demands and expectations of her community.

Grad season:

After that comes grad season. As MLA, Mitzi enjoys signing the graduation certificates and watching so many students in her community go through some of the big life milestones, whether high school or post secondary.

She’s glad that most if not all graduation events will be back to in-person, to whatever degree students, parents and the schools decide. When grad ceremonies were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 it made her feel disappointed for the students.

Mitzi Dean, career day, Royal Bay, 2020
Mitzi Dean, MLA touring the student presentations at the Royal Bay Secondary School Career Day on Feb 28, 2020. [RBSS]

Transit development:

Another big move forward for the broader west shore region is the new B.C. Transit route that connects the Scia’new (Beecher Bay) First Nation to Langford, which connects to downtown Victoria. “I have advocated for this route for a long-time and I am glad to see it is now in place and connecting our communities. The launch in early January 2022 was great news,” says Dean.

bc transit, brice, colwood
BC Transit promoted improvements to their Westshore/Downtown service, in Colwood on June 30, 2021. From left: Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, CRD Chair Colin Plant, View Royal Mayor David Screech, Victoria Regional Transit Commission Chair Susan Brice, BC Transit CEO Erin Pinkerton, BC Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming, Colwood Mayor Rob Martin, and MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin Mitzi Dean. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Even before she was elected in 2017, Dean — who worked in social services in the west shore — had approached then-mayor Carol Hamilton about the unusual arrangement of buses going west from East Sooke out to Sooke, and east from Metchosin into Victoria, but nothing serving Beecher Bay in the middle. Public transit was the first point of connection she made with current Colwood Mayor Rob Martin when he was elected in 2018.

MLA Dean was part of the June 30, 2021 announcement in Colwood about BC Transit expansion in the west shore, held in the parking lot next to the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre — one of the first in-person gatherings of leadership VIPs after 15 months of pandemic.

Key investments in Esquimalt-Metchosin:

Several key investments have been made in the Esquimalt-Metchosin constituency area during Mitzi Dean’s time as MLA (and since 2020 as Minister of Children and Family Development, before which she was BC’s first Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity). She is excited to report:

mitzi dean, mla
Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean (MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin) was very pleased to announce the new Westshore Community Health Centre, Nov 12, 2021 [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]
  • We opened the Esquimalt Urgent and Primary Care Centre, and announced the Westshore Community Health Centre that is set to open this spring.
  • We announced a new accessible playground at Colwood Elementary, and launched the Active School Travel Pilot Program at Sangster Elementary.
  • In the last year, we saw people settle into the affordable housing we built on Goldstream Avenue and Wale Road, the latter of which is focused on the needs of Indigenous families.
  • We are bringing jobs and cultural opportunities by building the new collections and research facility for the Royal BC Museum in Colwood.
  • We are supporting the Highland Games Association to build a new community centre in View Royal, as well as supporting the transformation of a heritage school into a community centre in Metchosin.
  • We announced new handyDart facility coming up in View Royal. These services are crucial for people who are unable to use fixed-route transit without assistance, and will allow access to employment, recreation and community.
  • West Shore got a satellite location of the Victoria Child and Youth Advocacy Centre that will provide services for children and youth victims of crime.

Health and well-being:

There is so much more to do to make life more affordable for people, to make sure they get the services they need, and to make sure we build a stronger BC that our kids and grandkids can thrive in. I am honoured to be doing this work and I am fortunate to be the MLA for a community that is so engaged and thoughtful.

Healthcare is a big issue in Esquimalt-Metchosin. Recently two walk-in doctor’s offices announced they will be closing mid-April. This was disappointing news for MLA Dean last month.

eagle creek. medical clinic
Eagle Creek Medical Clinic in View Royal, BC.

“Healthcare is a priority for me and definitely the issue I hear most about in our community,” Mitzi told Island Social Trends this week. “These issues date back 20 years and were caused by inaction from previous governments.”

But she points out that a lot of work has been done to improve services in the region, including opening two new Urgent Primary Care Centres (UPCCs). The Westshore UPCC in Langford opened in November 2018 and the Esquimalt Urgent Primary Care Centre opened in December 2021. The Colwood Community Health Centre — announced in November 2021 and opening this spring, and creating Primary Care Networks. “But it is clear that there is much more to do.”

“In the last few weeks, I’ve met with local doctors, constituents, and Mayors on this topic and I’ve taken what I’ve heard and raised my concerns to the Ministry of Health,” says Dean. In response to the concerns that were raised, a local working group consisting of the Health Ministry, Doctors of BC, South Island Division of Family Practice, Island Health, and other partners was established by the Health Ministry to investigate issues with the sustainability of walk-in clinics on the South Island and find solutions.

“The working group will be providing some final recommendations to the Ministry and Doctors of BC on short, medium, and longer term actions and investments to support family practices,” Mitzi Dean.

sd62, west shore learning

Dean says the province’s team-based care strategy has the greatest potential to provide sustainable primary care going forward. Doctors who want to be salaried instead of running their office as their own business are a good fit for the UPCCs. “But we know there are immediate challenges and I am glad to see that the Ministry is working urgently to stabilize clinics at risk and accelerate change where needed.”

Women in politics:

International Women’s Day is coming up March 8. Encouraging women to run for political office is not a new topic for Mitzi. She has often says it takes repeated suggestions to women that they run before they might say yes. By comparison, oftentimes men will say yes right away.

Mitzi Dean, Maryam Monsef
In 2019: Mitzi Dean, BC Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity (left) and Maryam Monsef, federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, at their media conference during the Intergovernmental meeting of gender equity ministers at the Delta Ocean Pointe Hotel in Victoria Dec 4, 2019 [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Dean enjoys being a mentor or sounding board to women who are running for political office.

Busy spring and summer ahead:

While her schedule is busy and full, things will likely shift this spring and summer. Dean notes that Dr Henry will be reviewing COVID public health orders again in March and April, as the Omicron wave fades.

The summer might be an opportunity for Mitzi to meet more of her constituents in person, and she’s looking forward to that.

john horgan, constituency, ad

===== RELATED:

BC Family Day statement by Premier John Horgan (February 21, 2022)

JDF Child Care Centre responds to community demand (January 17, 2022)

Esquimalt UPCC opens at permanent new location (December 6, 2021)

Metchosin: almost $1 million to refurbish old school into community center (August 10, 2021)

Health care: four primary care networks for Greater Victoria area (July 21, 2021)

Two-phase opening for Esquimalt urgent & primary care centre (June 12, 2021)

New urgent primary care health centre in Langford to open November 5 (October 26, 2018)

Island Social Trends
Island Social Trends – insights into stuff that matters.