Houston council is meeting Premier Christy Clark, Minister of Forests Steve Thomson and other ministers to lobby for Houston projects.
Mayor Bill Holmberg and Councillors Shane Brienen, Michalle Jolly, Dawn Potvin, Rick Lundrigan and Kyle Thomson head to Whistler September 22 to 26 for the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention.
Council agreed at their meeting last Tuesday that their top priority is meeting with Premier Christy Clark to lobby for help with upcoming infrastructure projects. The two major projects are the water tower and Highway 16 project. Council will discuss Houston’s lack of 24/7 health care, the economic development and infrastructure plans, and forest policies.
Their second priority the Minister of Forests.
Mayor Bill Holmberg said council is still talking with him and MLA John Rustad about their “concerns with the speed of what is being done.”
“So far we’re being told that until the Competition Bureau rules, they’re not doing anything, so we still need to drive it home that we’re not happy with that answer,” Mayor Holmberg said.
Council will also ask for an update on the Timber Supply Review and lobby for Community Forests to get some of the timber rights previously owned by Houston Forest Products.
Their third priority is meeting the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training to discuss the transition plan and it’s funding.
Fourth, council wants to meet with Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development to discuss funding for upcoming projects in the Economic Development Plan.
“I think it’s important to talk to her because she’s a northern minister,” said Councillor Shane Brienen, adding that she’s out of Quesnel, so she might have more understanding of where Houston is at with the HFP closure.
Fifth, council wants to meet with the Minister of Health to lobby for clinic funding, increased hours and 24/7 nursing care.
Last year they met with Northern Health but weren’t able to meet with the Minister of Health.
“We should probably meet with them this year and let them know that we’re still struggling with the same issues,” said Councillor Michalle Jolly.
Councillor Rick Lundrigan agreed.
“We’re getting no where with Northern Health, so lets move up the ladder.”
Councillor Brienen said it’s important because Houston is an industrial town, with many people working all hours through the night. Many are farther than 45 minutes from the Smithers Hospital.
As things develop in this region, the lack of 24/7 health care will also affect the decisions of business investors and families who are considering moving in, Brienen said.
“That’s why It’s important, especially now during this downturn, to help us get our legs back under us.”
Sixth, council is asking to meet with the Minister of Advanced Education, to lobby for college funding and literacy programs. They also want to thank them for supporting the millwright program, said Councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld.
Seventh, they want to meet with the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.
With the social services pillar continuing to meet, council is seeking commitment for continued representation at those meetings.
They also want to discuss the increase in low income families and a lack of social services available in town.
Last, council wants to meet with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, to talk about their hopes for a Highway 16 upgrade and to show them a draft of Houston’s Transportation Master Plan.