OBAC calls for minister for rural needs
Pat Bell described the relationship between rural and urban B.C. simply on Friday.
“A healthy rural B.C. means a healthy urban B.C,” the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training told a group at the University of Northern B.C. “It doesn’t hold true the other way.”
Bell was commenting on the release of a position paper by the three regional beetle action coalitions, titled The Pathway to Prosperity in British Columbia Runs Through Its Rural Places. The position paper is the final report from the Rural BC Project, and makes recommendations to assist with rural economic development throughout the province.
The three regional coalitions – Omineca (OBAC), Cariboo-Chilcotin (CCBAC) and Southern Interior (SIBAC) – are joint sponsors of the project.
In presenting the position paper, OBAC chair Stephanie Killam, the mayor of Mackenzie, said the final report is not the end of the project.
“We need to work with the province to develop a long-term strategy for economic development in rural B.C. Thee are 20 recommendations in the report, including the designation of a cabinet minister with responsibility for rural issues.
“We have an initial meeting set up with the provincial government in February.”
Bell said the position paper recommendations included some which the provincial government was already working on.
“Working on our own, we’ve tried to build around some of the principles in the release. It made me feel good to see the report because it’s aligned with what we’ve been doing.
“The best ideas for rural B.C. happen right here – in rural B.C.”
Among the other recommendations in the report are the establishment of a leadership group consisting of the beetle action coalitions, regional trusts and The First Nations Forestry Council, which would work with government on a long-term strategy work plan. This group would be funded by the rural stakeholders and senior government.