The mayor said through the months of July and August, the city will have hosted several delegations of elected officials – some from as far away as Europe and South Korea, and some from our own federal government – who are on fact-finding tours in the region. He said he is proud to say many of the delegates he has already met with have commented on how interesting it is that Dawson Creek continues to win awards for being a "green," sustainable community in the midst of the boom and hustle of oil and gas activity.
Bernier said all of the groups were interested in the new technologies used in the local industry, as well as how the industry interacts with residents here. He said while he highlighted the positives for the community due to the growth of the industry, he also brought up the issues it faces because of that growth as well.
He said, for example, he was invited to give his perspective on how the development has affected the city and how the community is adjusting to that change to a visiting group of federal ministers and MPs. He said some of the issues he brought up were the need for funding for additional policing and for infrastructure, and the concerns about industry's use of water and the difficulties with water shortages last year.
"We don't want to be a boom-and-bust, transient town, so we talked about how we deal with some of the planning issues, and some of that means financial help from the provincial and federal governments," said Bernier. "It was a very broad discussion – nothing intense – but it was just to give them an underlying theme that, yes, things are going well for a lot of people, but there are still some issues we need to address as well."
He said the elected officials from overseas were interested in the positive and negatives of the petroleum industry as well, and how they might apply those lessons in their respective countries.
"A lot of their questions were political – how do we partner with industry, how does the community benefit from having industry here, and how do we as elected officials communicate with these oil and gas companies to ensure they understand their social licence for the area."
The mayor said any opportunity to promote the city is undoubtedly a positive.
"The important is the fact were still being recognized as a focal point for development and investment. My job as the mayor is to basically be a salesperson for the community, so I take every opportunity to meet with these people and brag about how great we are."