Civil forfeiture, liquor and cherries

Before I begin this week I would like to take a moment to share the reasons as to why I compose these reports on a weekly basis.

Before I begin this week I would like to take a moment to share the reasons as to why I compose these reports on a weekly basis.

As much as the reports on occasion generate political commentary my intent is not to engage in political discussion but rather to provide information to the taxpayers of the South Okanagan with respect to provincial government spending.

Citizens may not always agree with how government spends your tax dollars however it is important to be informed of the various programs and services that you are paying for.

A secondary theme of my reports is to also provide information on programs that may be of benefit to local citizens and also to illustrate opportunities for citizens to provide input on government policy.

On that note I do have some information to share this week over a  government policy.

Civil forfeiture for proceeds of crime was a program created by government in 2006.

Since that time police across British Columbia have forwarded roughly 850 cases to the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office.

Of those 850, more than 600 applications have gone forward with roughly 400 cases already concluded and roughly 200 still in progress.

Year to date already $10.8 million has been recovered by the program from the sale of confiscated items that included a drug trafficking helicopter, houses, vehicles and cash.

Recovering these funds is important as the money can be returned to communities around British Columbia in helping to fund crime prevention and remediation programs.

In addition there is also an opportunity to apply for grants through the program to support local initiatives.

For further information please visit www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/crimeprevention/grants/index.htm

Another recent policy change that may be of interest to some local citizens is changes to B.C. liquor licenses that create added flexibility for venues that host live events.

The changes will allow licence holders to screen films and broadcast pay-per-view programs outside of the hours as defined in their liquor licence.

Licence holders will also have the option to choose the days of the week and hours of the day to offer liquor service, and can screen films or broadcasts on the other days and times of the week.

More information is available online at the  www.gov.bc.ca/connect website.

Finally this week some potential good news for local cherry growers.

A recent trade agreement with China will allow for access to lucrative markets in areas including Taiwan and Hong Kong.

This past summer the first ever dedicated cargo flights began to fly between China and the Vancouver airport and already three flights are now occurring weekly.

In the past three years British Columbia has repeatedly set new records for the export of agri-food products that last year broke the $100 million threshold.

Given the great quality cherries grown in the Okanagan this trade agreement has great potential for our local fruit growers.

Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.