A Port Alberni city councillor and business owner wants to bring her experience with affordable housing issues to the provincial legislature. Helen Poon, BC Liberal candidate for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, said housing is the main concern she is hearing from people on the campaign trail.
“Everyone needs housing, but we have a great need for it in all of the riding and what I bring to the table is that I’ve been in the affordable housing sector myself for the past 8 years,” she said.
Poon was born and raised in Vancouver and received a law degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She spent time developing affordable housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside before moving to Port Alberni to operate a hotel pub.
The candidate said she would like to see government incentivize private developers to build more rental housing units. She added it is important to provide supports to address mental health and addiction, in addition to securing people a place to live.
“We have a lot of harm reduction for drug use, but we also need to consider prevention. We need to consider education. We need to consider giving people a way out of that addiction,” she said.
B.C.’s logging industry needs to be modernized to focus on second-growth forests, rather than old-growth areas, according to Poon. She said processing plants are set up to deal with larger diameter logs, resulting in a lot of wasted resources when smaller diameter logs are left on the ground.
“In Port Alberni, we just opened a new mill — that’s the first new mill in 15 years in B.C. The reason [it is] successful is they have tooling that allows them to make the most out of smaller diameter logs,” said Poon.
Poon was elected a city councillor in Port Alberni in 2018 and also serves as a director on the Union of B.C. Municipalities, an organization devoted to representing and advocating for local governments.
“I took the time to visit with community leaders across B.C. and get to know the issues that matter to them, so that I can advocate on a provincial level,” she said.