BC Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy said he's still fighting for the interests of Squamish residents, even though his party has been dethroned from its 16-year long reign.
It was one of the main points he addressed during a wide-ranging talk he had with Squamish's Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 15 at Norman Rudy's.
"It's a completely different role for me," he said. "It's very interesting to sit on the other side of the house now."
Sturdy acknowledged that his powers have been limited now that he works from the sidelines as opposition critic for transportation.
However, he said he's been meeting with officials in an attempt to push through initiatives that would benefit Squamish.
He said he spoke with Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson regarding concerns over bridge washouts in the Sea to Sky and Transport Minister Claire Trevena regarding regional transit.
Sturdy also had some pointed words for the current government, calling some of the NDP-Green's suggestions that the governing parties may collaborate with the opposition "lip service."
As an example, he said that this year, the opposition was barred from attending the First Nations chiefs forum, while the Greens, NDP, and private NDP members were allowed to attend.
Sturdy also touched on Squamish's usual hot topics.
He said as transportation critic, he'd continued devoting his time to advancing regional transportation.
He also added that local municipalities needed to come together to find a governance structure for a potential regional service.
When asked afterward about how some residents disagreed with the Ministry of Transportation's assessment that the Sea to Sky HIghway was not yet at capacity, Sturdy said that there is no doubt the highway is at capacity on some days, but for the most part, traffic seems to move along.
He said that he'd continue supporting the idea of a bypass running from Murrin Park to the former Makin lands, south of Britannia Mind Museum.
However, he noted that this possible solution should be considered in relation to the highway and traffic systems as a whole.
A bypass may not be the best choice if it merely pushes traffic jams a little further down the road, he said.
With respect to density and affordable housing, Sturdy said that it was a very complicated issue that interconnects with regional transit, among other things.
Part of it involves cutting costs for developers, so they can build more housing.
But at the same time, if developers can't access a workforce — because of a lack of regional transit — that can be a problem, he said.
Sturdy also addressed the impending the federal government's movement to legalize marijuana next year.
His greatest concern, he said, was that large-scale multinational businesses would capture the entire market, leaving nothing behind for smaller local growers.
In an interview with The Chief, Sturdy said the federal government hasn't indicated how much power — if any — will be given to the province with respect to regulating marijuana.
If individual provinces are given the means to introduce their own regulations for cannabis, Sturdy said he wants to ensure that small local enterprises are given a fighting chance.