It was a full week of meetings, more meetings, seminars and forums to attend and relationships to strengthen so that we can all benefit going forward. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities 2012 is over and now the work will start for the UBCM team and of course for all those that attended. A good number of resolutions were debated and either passed or defeated.
The parks funding resolution as brought forth by Councillor Kershaw was passed on the floor of the convention. In addition to this the Barriere team had a meeting with Minister Bennett on this issue. Councillor Kershaw put forth a compelling case and after a few false starts the Ministry agreed to look into how we can achieve what we proposed.
For those of you that didn’t wade through the hundreds of pages of resolutions, this particular one dealt with changing how funding for parkland could be used by the municipality. Presently when a land development happens the developer must either give up land for a park or provide funding that is earmarked for the acquisition of parkland. Here in Barriere, as is the case in a number of small communities, we have a good percentage of our municipality as parkland already. What we lack is the funds to develop these parklands. The change proposed was that we would be able to take the funds and use them to build something like a splash pad and not to buy more bare land.
Barriere also had a meeting with Minister Bell and his team and much to my delight the Honourable Naomi Yamamoto Minister of State for Small Business also attended. We were there to propose an addition to the recent Economic Pilot hosted by the Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Ministry here in the valley. Our proposal was to perform an ongoing labour force assessment in both the North Thompson and Robson valleys with an expansion to all of B.C. in the near future.
What this will provide is a method to forestall any gaps in local industries that may happen once the large projects in our area and across B.C. come on board. All too often in the past workers would leave and the local businesses would suffer. We will do all we can to try and stop this from having a disastrous effect on our communities.
We spoke briefly with Ministers Bell and Yamamoto around getting their support for more industry here in Barriere. A long term health care facility and a satellite campus of TRU are topics for future discussion. We have already had discussions with TRU and Interior Health with what I took to be positive results. I hope to pursue these discussions with both Ministers before the end of the year.
I was delighted to literally bump into the new Minister of Sate for Seniors, Dr. Ralph Sultan. I have invited Minister Sultan to Barriere to meet some residents and hopefully to gain his support for our local initiatives.
Last but not least, the Barriere team attended a meeting in conjunction with Clearwater and the TNRD team. This meeting was hosted by Minister Coleman and attended by Minister Lake, Minister Bond and BC Hydro Executive Vice President, Transmission and Distribution Mr. Greg Reimer. Minister Coleman laid out the agreements that had been made between BC Hydro, the Provincial government and the various major proponents needing power here in the North Thompson Valley. There has been a lot of coverage on what was promised during this meeting and what Premier Clarke said in her address to the UBCM so I will not belabour or rehash any of that.
The quicker major projects can be brought online line the better off our communities will be. By collectively supporting and actively driving to have an adequate supply of power brought to the North Thompson Valley we will all gain.
Having spoken to the Ministers and to some of the private businesses that are working towards having their projects become viable, I am confidant that all parties will be able to find common ground and move forward.
What I will say though is the issue around economic prosperity here in the valley is very simple.
Power equals jobs.