Donna Barnett (l) with Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon after being sworn in as Minister of State for Rural Economic Development on October 21.

Donna Barnett (l) with Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon after being sworn in as Minister of State for Rural Economic Development on October 21.

Rural voice is now stronger in Victoria with new Rural Economic Development portfolio

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett is now a Minister of State, giving rural communities an advocate at the cabinet table.

Rural B.C. will have a stronger presence in Victoria with the creation of a Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, a new portfolio under the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO). The announcement was made by Premier Christy Clark on October 21.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was sworn in as the new Minister of State the same day. The appointment is an expansion of the role that Barnett, who is in her second term as an MLA, already plays in Victoria, says a spokesperson for the premier’s office. Barnett was parliamentary secretary to FLNRO minister Steve Thompson for more than two years, and has a long association with rural issues.

“I’ve always worked hard for rural B.C.,” she told The Journal. “Now I’ll be able to work at the cabinet table and have more independent discretion and a louder voice.

“Rural communities are the economic driver of the province. The biggest issue is getting people all over B.C. to understand that without rural resources, our economy is in trouble. Rural communities have always been the economic engine of the province, and we have to continue to support our resource sector.”

The new portfolio is intended to address the challenges facing rural B.C. A government spokesperson says that while the province is doing very well overall, rural communities are facing some real challenges. “If you’re in a forestry or mining town, you know that the global resource economy is weak, and that global appetite for our products is down. The new portfolio shows a sensitivity to the challenge B.C. is facing.”

Cache Creek mayor John Ranta is pleased with the appointment. “Good for her. She has always been an important advocate for rural communities.”

Ranta adds that he has long realized that the sustainability of rural communities is very important. “If they continue to decline in population, where will people who work in the resource sector live? People in Vancouver think they drive the economy of the province, but in my view rural communities drive the economy.

“It’s important for the sustainability of urban centres to have a strong rural economy. Without the rest of the province, Vancouver would not be sustainable.”

“We all have to work together,” says Barnett. “And now I’ll be able to work with my rural colleagues at even greater length.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)
FRENCH CONNECTION: Skating rink welcomed

This lake one will not last long but is still worth it

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.
FOREST INK: New batteries close to industrial level applications

The good news is the hope that this cost should come down each year

Researchers in B.C. say earlier than usual return of bats or dead bats can indicate trouble, such as signs of white-nose syndrome. (Cathy Koot photo)
Public help is essential for monitoring for bat disease

Anyone finding a dead bat is asked to report it to the BC Community Bat Program

Sandi Griffiths is the region’s new district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

Sandi Griffiths replaces Todd Hubner who retired recently

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read