Everything done by government has to have a rural lens on it, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett told the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce last Thursday.
“I really believe we’re getting somewhere,” Barnett said. “Rural British Columbia is the backbone of the province. That’s where resource revenues come from and that’s where the dollars and cents come from.”
When policies, legislation and regulations are made too often they are made without the rural lens, she said, adding as parliamentary secretary for rural development, she is happy Premier Christy Clark has added minister of rural development to the portfolio of Steve Thomson, the minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations.
“This step will only benefit rural B.C. — our industries, our small businesses.”
One of the things that has alway aggravated her is the provincial permit process, Barnett said.
She has people at her door step she’s been working with for four and a half years that started in 2003 or 2006 for a permit for small businesses and they still haven’t got permits through.
“I know how Taseko feels,” Barnett said looking toward the table where Dave Rolleau, Gibraltar Mine’s VP of operations was sitting. “You’re a bigger business so I guess that’s why it takes longer than a smaller business.”
Business needs to know a start date and an end date for a permit. They need to know the process and sometimes the process changes at business moves along as policy and regulatory regimes change, Barnett said.
Changing the permit system can improve our small business in B.C and particular in rural B.C., she added.
Barnett has heard criticism because the legislature isn’t sitting right now and said the government only sits for a reason.
“We sat in July, we had a budget, and we passed legislation. We are now working towards the next sitting. You don’t just sit because you like to sit there.”
MLAs are out there now working and gaining information for the next spring.
“We will have a throne speech, a budget and much legislation that will be put forward for debate in the house next spring.
Government under core review
Barnett said the government is going through a core review and encouraged people to go online to make suggestions on how government can improve.
“Please go online and let us know what you would like to see changed.”
The select standing committee on finance will be in Williams Lake on Oct. 8, and Barnett said the committee also needs to hear from people in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
Stan Ashton is the chair of both committees and Barnett said whatever recommendations Ashton hears through the finance committee hearings will go a long way.
New outdoor recreation vehicle at in the works
Many people have been waiting for a new outdoor recreation vehicle act, Barnett said, explaining she sits on the government cabinet environmental land use committee, which is a very powerful and important committee.
“We’re hoping it will be put to the floor next spring,” she said.
“It is very important for hunting, guiding and recreation, and tourism product to have done so we can promote and bring dollars and cents to the whole province.”