The spring session of the legislature comes to a close on Thursday, after almost 12 straight weeks of debate about the provincial budget, especially in terms of how our province intends to restart the economy to emerge from this pandemic.
I have been working on our community’s behalf for local funding on the ground, especially because the current government in Victoria doesn’t have very many MLAs outside the Lower Mainland, and unfortunately this is reflected in budget 2021 that was delivered late in April.
This means we have to remind the Premier and his cabinet that when it comes to resources, rural B.C. is the breadbasket of our provincial economy and we need help too when it comes to restarting.
I’ve been up on my feet during question period quite a bit recently, asking the government tough questions as to why the Williams Lake Stampede does not qualify for provincial “anchor event” funding.
In a normal year, the Stampede contributes more than $3 million to our local economy right here in Cariboo-Chilcotin.
Yet this is the second year in a row they were forced to cancel and we are in need of provincial assistance right now.
Why on Earth does provincial funding exclude events like the Williams Lake Stampede, Billy Barker Days, the IPE and the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo?
We only have one shot at lifting the B.C. economy out of the pandemic, so we have to get this right.
This is not going to happen unless we give these organizations — most of which depend on volunteers — the support they need to get back on their feet.
We certainly believe our fairs and stampedes also need public funding to help them get back on their feet.
So I will be working throughout the summer months to make sure we get the resources necessary to recover.
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.