- Our Town
MLA discusses the economy with CRD directors
In her latest to-do list from government, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said she’s been given the impossible dream.
“I’m supposed to go out and find ways to reverse the population decline in rural communities by growing economic opportunities and allowing people to remain and thrive in the communities where they have chosen to live,” Barnett told the Cariboo Regional District board Friday.
“It’s a huge task but not impossible. If we think of new innovative ideas and we’re not scared to share them, instead of saying no, we need to take a look at the long term ramifications on the positive side.”
Barnett said the long term impacts of the pine beetle infestation have to be resolved.
“We know what’s happening in some of our communities, especially Quesnel,” she said. “We know we all have to work together to resolve some of the impacts that will still happen two, five, 15 years from now.”
Last week she attended the Truck Loggers Association AGM and said it was the best attendance they have ever had and the most positive in many years.
“The industry feels positive that there are great opportunities out there with the dollar going down, with the price of lumber, with the technology they have,” Barnett said.
“One thing they are all concerned about is the fact that there are not many young people going into the forest industry, whether it’s to become a professional forester or a truck logger.”
It’s important to get the message out there, she said.
“We need to get these people trained younger, get forestry into our schools earlier, and get our youth into an industry that we know is always going to be there and is going to change.”
In relation to the Discovery Coast Ferry cancellation, Barnett said she continues to insist Route 40 remain in place for 2014.
“It is very difficult for our operators who already have bookings with people who are coming from all over the world to utilize that particular route,” she said.
The Tourism Industry of Canada has done an economic impact document and will be meeting with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“The minister has not closed the door, I had a meeting with him yesterday,” she said. “He is listening and talking to people and all I can do is say minister let’s keep it for 2014, let’s talk and work together to try and find a solution for 2015.”
Barnett said everyone knows the costs associated with ferries but that the bottom line is still the most important issue.
“Right now, however, we need to look at the cumulative economic impact that ferry cancellation is going to have. Your letters and your resolutions help,” Barnett said to the board. “There’s very strong opposition to that route being cancelled.”
Responding to concerns about the Agricultural Land Reserve raised by the CRD board, Barnett said the province has no intention of getting rid of the ALR, but needs to find ways to be more efficient, and more effective, while preserving agricultural land.