The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services visited Fort St. John to address local concerns and requests concerning the next provincial Budget. The committee, chaired by Chilliwack MLA John Les is required to release its report by Nov. 15th.
Representing the Fort St. John Community Arts Council, Tara O’Donnell noted that the province is 13th in Canada when compared to the other provinces and territories pertaining to per capita arts funding at only $6.54 per person. The B.C. Arts Council recently had its budget slashed by $20 million and at this time has no access to provincial gaming funds. O’Donnell is calling for the budget to be restored to 2008 levels so they can continue to provide adequate services to the region.
Andy Ackerman spoke for the B.C. Library Trustees Association noting that their budget of $17.6 million has been cut to $13.7 million. Ackerman made light of the fact that 61% of the provincial population carry library cards and as such it is a vital service within the province and feels that provincial funding should be restored to its prior levels.
The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association was represented by Ron Buchanan who highlighted that ranchers provide $500 million annually to the GDP, yet they require $116 million in funding to bring them to provincial averages within the country.
Speaking for the Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce was Andrew Tylosky relaying that the region provides $4 billion in oil and natural gas revenues which makes it an integral part of the provincial economy. Tylosky wants to ensure that there is proper enforcement within the area for carbon taxes and the HST.
Public unable to attend the hearing are invited to provide written, audio or video submissions or to complete an online response form to express their views.