Economic development takes big jump with signing over of Louis Creek industrial park

As the Mayor Sees It, with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

There have been numerous public announcements this week around the transfer of the former Tolko property to the District of Barriere and the Simpcw First Nations. This is a very positive step for economic development here in the valley. I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to the dozens of people that over the years have worked so hard to have this come to a successful conclusion.

The monumental tragedy of the fires of 2003 brought together many dedicated and generous individuals, like George Evans who chaired the North Thompson Relief Fund. Their efforts raised considerable funds that started the recovery process.

Former MLA and Chair of the North Thompson Economic Development Society, Kevin Krueger, was instrumental in beginning what would become a long process to start development and eventual transfer of the Tolko lands.

Throughout the process the staff of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has worked hard to overcome various obstacles and develop the means to an end.

While we must recognize that it is staff that does the actual work in these matters,  this would not have happened without the continuing support of our local MLA, Minister Lake and MOTI Minister Stone.

Going forward I anticipate that we will continue to enjoy the support of not only Ministers Lake and Stone, but from various other provincial Ministries as we struggle to develop the industrial park into an economic driver for our community.

Perhaps previous benefactors like Cher, Bryan Adams or Colin James would see their way to holding a benefit concert here in Barriere. We do have a bandshell now.

All kidding aside, this is a very positive step that will go a long way to ensuring the sustainability of our area. Many thanks to everyone that has helped over the past few years and will help going forward.

That was the positive news. Unfortunately there is information being given out here in Barriere that is incorrect.  Over the past few months council has been accused of doing some things that were not planned for, or given proper public input. I will try to explain why these ongoing, negative and destructive comments are unfounded.

One such piece of misinformation was around the decision of council to support the North Thompson Fall Fair by purchasing additional bleachers so that they could attract new events to the Agriplex.

Some said that there was no previous planning or direction to do this sort of thing, and further to that there was no reason that this money should have been taken from our economic reserves.

Barriere’s Official Community Plan (OCP) under section 3.1.18 sub section (b) states “Assist in creating local agri-tourism opportunities.”

Purchasing additional bleachers so that larger agricultural events will come to Barriere is a step towards creating additional local agri-tourism opportunities.

All anyone has to do is attend one of these new events to see how successful they are.

Plus, the new events are being held in portions of the year that in the past there was nothing going on here in Barriere to attract visitors. Who would have thought that the local hotel and motels would be selling so many rooms at New Years, or even last week for that matter?

Council was also taken to task for supposedly not having public input into the idea of using biomass to heat the new wastewater plant, the Fire Hall and the old Hy Louie building.

Barriere’s OCP section 3.1.18 sub section (e) states “Investigate the development and uptake locally of co-generation and biomass-based energy.”

As one of the public members of the committee that helped to create the OCP a few years ago, I can assure everyone there were numerous public meetings and consultations around this topic.

Council is following the OCP and planning of previous councils,  as well as the ideas of many members of the community that helped create the forward looking “Be Barriere” concept. Positive forward thinking progress is the plan of the day.

Everyone is welcome to their opinion. It is best if that opinion is based on the facts. Anyone with concerns should contact a council member and ask questions. We have nothing to hide and lots to share.