NCLGA August Update
The NCLGA 2015/16 Board.
Ministry of Agriculture
President Frenkel, as well as Chairs Art Kaehn and Bill Miller, met with Minister Letnik to discuss NCLGA resolutions pertaining to his Ministry. The resolution on reforestation of productive agricultural land, submitted by the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, was the talking point for most of the meeting.
The Peace River Regional District’s resolution on ALR land was also discussed, as was the sticky issue of foreign land ownership in British Columbia. A table was drawn up outlining BC to be the only province without significant restrictions. You can see a version of this table here.
The Minister was also surprised to learn that the NCLGA region covers a vast 70% of the Province. We were very grateful for the meeting and look forward to working further with him on these two resolutions.
Further on the topic of agriculture, our office has been liaising directly with Frank Leonard (the new Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission). We briefed Chair Leonard on our current resolutions concerns around foreign ownership of agricultural land. As a byproduct of discussions with Mr. Leonard, he has agreed to sit on a panel on agriculture at our upcoming AGM.
Ministry of Transportation
Our President had an opportunity to speak in person with Minister Stone in Vanderhoof, and presented him with another NCLGA brief on transportation issues. This brief included relevant resolutions, as well as other ongoing issues in the region, such as Car Wash Rock between Terrace and Prince Rupert, and BC Ferries. As a result, President Frenkel received a long list of North-Central transportation projects that are in the works for our region, with an offer from the Ministry to keep in touch and update our Board moving forward.
2016 AGM & Convention in Dawson Creek
As recommended at our July meeting, Councillors Wilbur and Shuman held a convention planning meeting in Dawson Creek. Representatives from several communities were present, and Tumbler Ridge confirmed that they will be sponsoring the conference.
It was a very productive meeting. Future panel sessions were outlined to include the following themes & subjects:
- First Nations Relationship Building (Reconciliation, title, business)
- Agriculture (Foreign ownership, food security)
- Forestry (Industry evolution, fibre supply, innovating new wood products)
- Water Use (Fracking, community waste water, etc)
- Community Development (Boom & Bust Cycles)
Also, the committee worked hard to keep the usual amount of sessions, while (for the first time) ending the practice of breakout sessions. This move means that delegates will not miss out on any topics or issues. All delegates will be in the same room for each and every session.
The committee also managed to secure the CEO of The Knowledge Network (Mr. Rudy Buttignol) to be our official keynote speaker. Mr. Buttignol has quite a set of life experiences and professional victories to inform his presentation on leadership. You can read more about his personal achievements here.
Emerging Issue: Northern Connectivity Initiative
Our telephone & internet redundancy in Northern BC is non-existant. If an accident cuts the lines along Highway 97, all of Northern BC could be disconnected. This means schools, local governments, hospitals, businesses, and more could be without landline phones, internet, or emergency service capabilities. The solution is to add an additional fibre optic cable servicing our region for redundancy purposes.
There is a new, positive project called the Northern Connectivity Initiative. Essentially, this proposed project is a $120 million partnership between the Federal Government, the Province and Telus that would create broadband redundancy, allow for an expansion of service to First Nations, industry and local governments throughout the region, and add much needed certainty/security for health care and emergency service providers.
The Province, while showing great initiative in putting this project together, is still prioritizing different projects and dealing with a slew of issues. Northern communities can help, however, by urging provincial representatives to push the Northern Connectivity Initiative. Until then, 70% of the Province remains vulnerable.