COLUMNS: Another year upon us

Another year has come and gone and 2016 is upon us.

Another year has come and gone and 2016 is upon us.

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year filled with peace, good health and prosperity.

I also want to thank all volunteer organizations for their dedication to improving life in Williams Lake and area over the past year.

Thinking about the year ahead, I’m filled with optimism. There will be challenges for all of us, but it is up to all of us to turn those challenges into opportunities.

Resource industries are vital in the Cariboo and Chilcotin and we must work together to bring investment in those key industries — and all industries in general. Everyone has a role to play, from ordinary citizens talking about and celebrating what makes our region a great place to live, to Chambers of Commerce, economic development agencies and all levels of government creating a business atmosphere that convinces investors to come here.

We must pull together to attract projects that will build our economy while being environmentally responsible. As we know, a strong economy allows us to strengthen our social programs, create jobs, and curb crime and homelessness.

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I want to congratulate a Williams Lake business, Realm of Toys, on being named a semifinalist in the 13th annual Small Business B.C. Awards.

Realm of Toys is owned by Joan Douillard and her daughter Jazmyn Douillard and is nominated in the Best Concept category.

Joan and Jazmyn have created a toy store for all ages. What really sets Realm of Toys apart is their atmosphere and, of course, the Nerd Room. Jazmyn and Joan are constantly evolving and improving the décor and their product lines, and have come a long way since they brought in their first toys a year ago.

Small businesses like Realm of Toys are the backbone of the Williams Lake economy and a shining example of what can be accomplished through creativity and hard work.

Winners of the Small Business B.C. Awards will be announced Feb. 25 in Vancouver and I wish Joan and Jazmyn every success.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.