Recently I attended the inaugural B.C. Mayor’s Caucus. The focus of the caucus was to investigate common problems our communities face and hopefully reach common solutions. All communities share problems that, with a united effort, could be solved easily.
Funding for required local services was the main topic. In the recent past, other orders of government have shifted the responsibilities of providing some services to local government. The problem came about when the funding attached to these services was not transferred along with the responsibility. For large communities this is a problem. For small communities like Barriere it is a much larger problem.
Add the need to upgrade aging infrastructure now shouldered mainly by local government and the process of taxation must be addressed. The Caucus members stated a need to “Redesign the cost sharing formula for significant infrastructure projects to reflect the tax revenue distribution.”
There is only one taxpayer. There is no need for more tax monies to be collected. The money that is now collected just needs to go to the right places.
On May 22, Ms. Hannigan, Mr. Hayward, Mr. Scott Kershaw and I attended a meeting of the McBride to Barriere Corridor Regional Economic Investment Pilot series of meetings. The economic pilot is directed by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovations. JTI Minister Bell attended along with Minister Bond, Minister Lake and MP Cathy McLeod. Mayors Frasier, McCracken and Harwood were there to complete the local side of government. A full compliment of government staff and interested investors and business people rounded out the group.
Good news for some and great news for others was delivered tempered with some disappointments.
On the really good news side Mr. Dan Doyle, the chairman of B.C. Hydro announced a $50 million investment that will partner with independent power producers in the Robson Valley to provide stable and sustainable power for that region. This is the culmination of decades of hard work on the part of all concerned. My hat is off to Mayor Frasier and Minister Bond along with a host of others for working with everyone to bring the dream to fruition.
Still on the good news side Minister Lake announced $50,000 in funding for road repairs in the forest area of Wells Grey. The unique aspect of this is that these repairs are to provide public access into those areas and to allow tourism operators to carry on providing service. Normally such funds from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources are not provided for this use. Ministers Thomson, Lake, Bell and Bond showed a true willingness to provide a workable solution for what was a major local problem.
On the disappointment side we were told the supply of fibre issue which affects our plans for industrial growth here in Barriere will take some years to complete. When pressed the people delivering this news said that in some cases the time lines can be reduced. We will follow up on the issue with the people that can encourage those doing such work to try a bit harder for us.
Yes, it is all about Barriere I say. Well to a certain extent anyway. When the third aspect of the economic pilot, which is tourism, comes into play we need to look past the borders of the District. We need to work with all of the parties throughout the corridor and beyond to bolster this important portion of our economy.
The District of Barriere contracts to the Chamber of Commerce for the tourism side of our economic development efforts. The Chamber president, Scott Kershaw, has offered to actively engage all parties in the area to take advantage of the benefits that can be derived from the current push from the JTI Ministry economic pilot to grow this important aspect of our economy.
The message I want to give to all orders of government, our neighbours and partners here in the valley and in fact the entire world is that Barriere is not going away.
We will continue to grow, flourish and help others. Partnerships and family are what has kept us strong through years of adversity and trials. Work with us and we will all benefit more than if we face the challenges alone.