The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services took away something a little extra from Williams Lake last Tuesday.
When the president of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association Cuyler Huffman arrived to give his presentation, accompanied by his wife and three children, the committee was smitten.
“Those folks drove for almost an hour from out west, brought their kids in, and the kids were absolutely darlings,” committee chair Don Ashton said. “They sat there while dad gave his presentation.”
Huffman’s son was there wearing a “big ol’ cowboy hat” and caught everybody’s eye, Ashton said.
“It wasn’t only me, other committee members said, ‘holy.’”
Huffman broached ranching issues around fencing, water sources, dam funding and said the beef industry is a significant addition to the economy of the Cariboo and B.C.
“There are many jobs linked to the beef industry,” Huffman said. “From trucking, packing plants, the feed industry, wholesalers and retailers, many rely on our industry.”
Eleven people from a broad cross-section of the community made presentations in Williams Lake.
Aside from Huffman, the committee heard from the chamber, invasive species council, Tolko Industries, trucking businesses, former Independent candidate Gary Young, the Cariboo Regional District and the B.C. Innovation Council.
Young suggested “independent” panel or committees should be appointed only by the Ombudsperson to eliminate any “favourability” to the government agenda.
“Average citizens are the best choice,” he said.
People realize budgetary opportunities are tight right now and how important a balanced budget is and some presenters asked the government to reconsider and restore funding, while others said when times get better please don’t forget them, Ashton said.
“There’s one taxpayer right. You can’t continue to spend $1.10 when you only have $1 of income.”
The committee visited 17 communities in 11 days, and will complete five video conferences from Victoria.
Four members of the committee are from the NDP and six from the Liberals, including Ashton.
However, Ashton said he is neutral on the committee, unless someone is missing and there’s a tie vote.
“Mike Farnworth from the opposition and myself work very closely together and I think it’s really important that government bi-partisanship is shown by government and that we’re getting out into these communities,” Ashton said.
“B.C. is built on the resources that go beyond Hope and it’s because of most parts of the province, beyond the Lower Mainland that B.C. is what it is today,” he said.