I had the privilege of being a participant, as president of the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association, in the Barriere – McBride regional economic development pilot project forum held in Valemount, on Monday, Jan. 16.
The forum was the second of four pilot projects to be held in the province; all a part of the government’s ‘Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan’. The forum played host to approximately 100 attendees comprised of local, regional, provincial and federal government representatives, First Nations, business, industry, health, education, and stakeholders, who came together to pull three major priorities for the region from a large number of submissions by area communities. (see article on page 2 this issue)
MLA Terry Lake greeted the participants and encouraged everyone to work hard together in networking and discussions, to put aside differences, and work together to create a plan for the Barriere to McBride corridor. Lake also noted the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association’s recent building of the North Thompson Agriplex as a lesson for all about joining together for a common goal. “This project has been successful without a lot of government investment, and is an example of what a community can accomplish by working together,” said Lake.
MP Cathy McLeod spoke about the economic times in the North Thompson/Robson region and noted how great it was, while driving from Kamloops to Valemount, to see so many logging trucks once again on the road.
Simpcw First Nation Chief Nathan Mathew said, “Government and corporate representatives have come together to make this a stronger place economically; stronger communities, with stronger families for our children, to work respectfully side by side.”
Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, charged the forum with his enthusiasm and promises to get the ball rolling. “Our success is your success,” said Bell, “It’s very easy to turn your mind to larger areas like Vancouver and Prince George, but it’s harder for smaller regions like Barriere to McBride. I don’t think that the Provincial government has ever engaged these smaller regions in this fashion. Economic Development Officers and local governments have to stay involved and engaged. They now have a direct line to government that they never had before.”
Bell promised that what may have taken six years to accomplish in the past might well be done in six months under the Canada Starts Here: BC Jobs Plan.
He finished the session by saying it was time to “…put the bucket down and go like hell”.
Bell has a pretty good reputation for dedication to attaining set goals, such as the turnaround for the town of Mackenzie, and he is also known for coming through on his promises.
If all of the key players including the Ministry, regional economic development officers, local and regional governments, and BC Hydro can hold the charge and maintain their drive and enthusiasm, we could actually see the shovel put down and the Devil chased down the road.