On Sept. 8 Mayor Shane Brienen attended the Regional District Bulkley Nechako meeting held in Burns Lake.
“Main discussion was around transit, about how the rural areas benefit from it, and the possibility of transit cost changing.They will change a little bit if rural areas opt out,” said Brienen. At the Prince George Civic Center on Sept. 9 Brienen attended the Northern Mayors and Chairs Roundtable meeting.
The Northern Central Local Government Association covers from Prince Rupert to Fort. St. John, all the way down to 100 Mile House.
“Attendees were almost all local governments and chairs from the NCLGA,” said Brienen.
The purpose of this meeting was to discuss issues of concern particular to the north.“The roundtable was divided into four main sessions: economic development, social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and next steps,” said Brienen.
“A few of the many issues discussed were failing infrastructure in the north and the rising cost of infrastructure.The amount of resources leaving the area. Lack of value added jobs in the resource industry.Education. Attraction and retention of professionals,” commented Brienen.
On the subject of economic development, diversification and the struggle to diversify in a resource based economy was discussed.
“If we are going to build strong, resilient communities, and have diversification, we are really going to need to have every community work and find ways to try and get some value added and [access] those resources we have,” said Brienen.
Air quality was also another issue of concern.It was discussed and compared how much harder it is for a facility or institute to be built on the lower mainland than it is up north.
“Some real concerns there about how we live in a rural area and how to keep that fresh air from industries coming in and causing issues of air pollution,” commented Brienen.
At the meeting it was mentioned how the south of the province believe that their economy is driving the province, when a lot of the times they are unaware of what is happening in the North. Ways to show and educate the south how the resource and development industry has operated and changed was discussed at the table.
Value added in communities was the final topic discussed at the meeting.
“If we want to be sustainable and attract industry and professionals, we need to have the infrastructure invested in our communities,” relayed Brienen.