Earlier this month, the Rural BC Project, an organization I am involved with through my work with the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, released a discussion paper entitled The Pathway to Prosperity in British Columbia Runs Through Its Rural Places. This paper was focused on setting out a long-term strategy for investment in the social and economic development of our rural regions.
The Rural BC Project is jointly sponsored by the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, and the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition, and is dedicated to increasing awareness around the province about the unique challenges we face in rural areas. With the help of an investment of $1 million a year, for three years, by our provincial government in each of these Beetle Action Coalitions, the Rural BC Project was born. In a neutral and non-partisan way, the Rural BC Project makes recommendations about what rural communities can do to meet the challenges they face.
Rural and urban regions in our province depend on each other, but the fact is that many rural areas in British Columbia are going through tough times. While some areas have seen a boom as a result of oil, gas, and mining, many have seen slow population growth and economic decline.
The recent paper makes a series of recommendations to help address these problems, based on a great deal of research conducted by the Beetle Action Coalitions along with other groups, such as the B.C. Progress Board. Some of the recommendations include creating a Leadership Group that can work with the government to develop a long-term plan based on principles we share, setting up a revenue stream to support the delivery of services, and designating rural issues as the responsibility of a cabinet minister.
The three regional Beetle Action Coalitions that fund the Rural BC Project will be meeting with our government to discuss the recommendations set out by this discussion paper, and I look forward to continuing to speak up for the interests of our rural regions as I have always done in the past.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.