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Premier urged to remember northern, rural communities

Houston signs group letter being sent to John Horgan

The District of Houston council has signed onto a group letter urging Premier John Horgan to not forget the more rural and northern portions of British Columbia.

An initiative of Resource Works, a non-profit industry lobbying group, the letter was circulated to northern local governments, asking for their mayors to sign.

“In addition to congratulating the Premier and wishing him well in his efforts,” wrote Resource Works executive director Stewart Muir in an introductory note to council, the letter asks Horgan to “make sure that the interests of natural resource communities …. are heard around the cabinet table.”

The letter comes as Horgan deliberates his cabinet make up following the large NDP victory stemming from the Oct. 24 provincial election.

While the NDP made gains in the lower mainland and in the Fraser Valley, the B.C. Liberals largely kept their presence in the north and more rural areas intact, presenting a challenge for Horgan as he decides who should sit around the cabinet table.

The cabinet, prior to the election, had two cabinet ministers from the Kootenays and just one from the north, Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson who was the forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development. He did not run again.

“Supporting natural resources means ensuring the right policies are in place and including us in those policy discussions.

While you bring together your new cabinet to take on major challenges like First Nations reconciliation, pandemic recovery and presenting an effective response to climate change, we, as the mayors of resource-supporting communities around the province, want you to be assured that you will have our support in the work that is ahead,” the group letter reads.

It suggests the following core principles, called pillars, for Horgan to consider:

1. Move quickly to enable shovel-ready projects to proceed,

2. Sending the right messages to international investors to ensure that BC’s most resilient industries can succeed in uncertain global investment conditions;

3. Recognizing, in economic planning, the unique advantage of globally carbon-competitive exports from BC’s resource-based industries;

4. Putting workers and communities first in delivering on campaign commitments;

5. Ensuring that any new regulations affecting the ability to deliver on the first four points during the pandemic recovery period are considered carefully.

“We welcome the opportunity to share with you and your colleagues our thoughts on how the voices of resource communities can be heard around the Cabinet table and in your re-elected government’s mandate,” the letter states.