Municipalities Coalition welcomes new local members

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Northeast BC Resource Municipalities Coalition has welcomed new members to help build the municipalities of the Northeast.

Energy Services BC, Northern BC Truckers Association, and both the Fort St. John and Dawson Creek Chambers of Commerce are the newest members of the Coalition. They’ve joined after attending the first-ever Upstream Update Forum at the Pomeroy Hotel in November, where their interest was piqued.

Energy Services BC Executive Director, Art Jarvis, says their members will benefit from joining forces with the Coalition, adding that the Mayors in Northeast B.C. have continued to be a strong voice for the municipalities, and the responsible development of our resources.

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Northern BC Truckers Association Director, Tyler Kosick, said the first Upstream Update Forum demonstrated the value of the Coalition.

“The Upstream Update Forum brought together representatives from industry, communities, First Nations, industry associations and the Province of B.C.,” he stated. “It allowed us all to discuss issues of mutual interest in a very respectful, inclusive environment. We’re pleased to become a member of the Coalition and actively support our mutual goals.”

They have worked with the Coalition to establish strategic objectives to ensure resource communities and businesses have a united voice in all issues related to sustainable development in NEBC.

“Our Chamber appreciates the work the Coalition has undertaken so far,” Tony Zabinsky, President of the Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce, stated.

“It has become the voice of responsible resource development in Northeast BC. Our involvement in the first Upstream Update Forum also demonstrated what can happen when municipalities and business work cooperatively together and speak with one voice.”

On the other side of the Peace River, Dawson Creek & District Chamber of Commerce President, Anjula Benjamin says they are pleased to support the Coalition’s goals and objectives as new members.

“The Coalition’s ability to undertake research, develop solutions for the challenges and opportunities in Northeast BC and work with governments and industry to implement these solutions, in our view, is the real value of the Coalition,” Benjamin says, adding that businesses in Dawson Creek face similar challenges to others in Northeast BC.

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“Working as a member of the Coalition provides additional value to our members because the Coalition brings everyone together to find effective solutions.”

The Coalition has three mayors actively involved: Fort St. John’s Lori Ackerman, District of Taylor’s Rob Fraser, and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality’s Bill Streeper. All the respective mayors expressed their excitement to see new members joins the coalition.

“The Coalition was always meant to be a diverse group of members from throughout Northeast BC coming together to work on issues of mutual interest. The addition of these business groups confirms our vision,” said Mayor of Fort St. John, Lori Ackerman.

“We look forward to moving forward with the help of these new members and working on behalf of everyone in the region.”

Along with their new members, the Coalition will advocate for the Provincial government to fully monitor and enforce B.C.’s tax and labour laws and regulations in relation to out of province contractors and businesses, in addition to their advocacy of the Province, and industry, ‘maximize utilization of B.C.’s local work force and businesses.’

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With that in mind, the Coalition acknowledge the New West Trade Agreement and it’s mandate. The Coalition says B.C. businesses are prepared ‘to compete on a competitive bid basis’ and ‘pride themselves on delivering high quality, cost competitive work in an environment where safety is the top priority.’

“BC businesses are also not opposed to competing with out of province contractors bidding on the same work but seek assurances that out of province contractors are abiding by all of BC’s tax, labour laws and regulations.”

Heading forward, the Coalition has started a series of meetings with Minister of Public Safety Mike Morris and other officials in Prince George. Meetings begin today, and end on Wednesday.

A meeting with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer’s B.C. manager in Prince George is also on the agenda, in the same time frame. The Coalition is looking to ‘inform and work with CAPP and other out of province industry associations to increase awareness and cooperation related to creation of a level playing field for BC businesses,’ in this meeting.

According to the Coaliton’s strategic plan, they will be developing a strong advocacy project, and trying to regularly meet with the premier, ministers, public officials and industry to achieve their vision.

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