Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar and MP Cathy McLeod attended the District of Barriere’s Regular Council Meeting held via virtually, on Monday, Jan. 11.
MLA Milobar opened his presentation by saying, “It’s great to be able to still connect with the councils here in the valley, as much as I didn’t want to have an election in the middle of a pandemic, it’s nice to have it behind us, and we’re moving forward.”
He noted the BC Liberal caucus has gone from 42 to 28 as a result of the election.
“Still a good size for an opposition to have, and it’s obvious that our electoral functions best when it has a strong opposition, be it federally or provincially,” said Milobar, who previously served as the Environment and Climate Change Critic for three-and-a-half years pre-election, and then for approximately a week as the Labour Critic. Coming out of the recent Provincial election he is now the Liberal Party’s House Leader, and the Critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
“I’m looking forward to that work, and looking forward to meeting with leaders of First Nations communities across the Province,” said the MLA, noting he expects it will be “quite the task, as there is some 200 plus Nations as well as all the Tribal Councils as well. It will be challenging work and I look forward to it. We are blessed in the Kamloops-North Thompson Riding to have very progressive First Nations in the Riding who are looking for ways to move forward with the economy. They work collaboratively, not always on the exact same page as each other, but always willing to have those conversations and discussions trying to find ways forward if at all possible.”
Milobar says the BC Legislature does not go back into session in Victoria until the beginning of March. Normally they return in the middle of February when a budget is presented, but the December session was two weeks long, essentially to pass a piece of Legislation that was to allow the government to bring a budget in the end of April, instead of having a budget presented mid-February.
“We won’t see what it actually looks like until we are already one month into next year’s fiscal,” said the MLA, “Where that has a bit of an impact is we are not sure what that relates to in terms of municipalities, such as infrastructure programs, any new infrastructure programs, or any spending. Any programs we see right now are the existing ones, and they will stay that way well into the Spring. This will probably push behind applications for new programs outside of this coming year’s construction window due to time lines in regards to hearing about an infrastructure program or not.”
Milobar advised the Barriere council that there is nothing new at this time in terms of infrastructure grants, but he is currently looking into a few grants that are outstanding for the municipality of Sun Peaks. He suggested that if Barriere has specific grants they would like him to look into on their behalf he will do so.
Regarding per capital funding, Milobar said his understanding is that the Province connected through UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities), asking municipalities, both big and small, to provide COVID-19 related impacts that they were feeling within their budgetary process.
“There was a part per capita, and then a part per impact overlay put on it, with the result actually seeing smaller communities fare better per capita than the Vancouver’s of the world,” said the MLA. “As an example we saw Kamloops receive about $6.8 million and Vancouver was only about $20 million. It was a dramatically different calculation and it relates to the services that Barriere is providing to its citizens.”
Regarding high speed Internet services, Milobar says he is very frustrated with the process.
“All the way back to my municipal years and my Regional District years as well. I wish I could say I have any faith in any of the announcements being made Federally or Provincially, but I have been there and done that so many times now it doesn’t really matter what political stripes you are wearing,” said the MLA, “We’ve all said it, but I think the reality of the situation is that every government and every service provider is finding it a real challenge to get that last 10 per cent of the population, they have been trying for a long, long time. I will continue to press where I can on that and try to find solutions where we can. The announcements are all wonderful, but I think everyone is sick and tired of the announcements and want to see a tangible deliverable when it comes to hi-speed Internet in the rural areas. I think we have all seen and heard this before, and I think it is incumbent on all of us to keep pressing the issue every chance we get. I am hoping this latest round of announcements will have us actually see that come to pass.”
Read MP Cathy McLeod’s presentation to Council in next weeks issue.