PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The organization that represents all municipalities and regional districts north of 100 Mile House says that it is concerned about the deal-making that has happened in Victoria this week.
The North Central Local Government Association is a non-partisan organization that seeks to promote the social, economic and environmental well-being of all communities in Northern B.C. Roughly 265 elected local government officials fall under the NCLGA banner. The association’s new president, Dawson Creek Councillor Shaely Wilbur, says that only ten of the legislature’s 87 MLAs hail from the NCLGA region. Eight of them are members of the BC Liberal Party, while the other two are members of the NDP.
“The principal concern in our region is that the northern-most parts of B.C. will be overlooked,” said Wilbur. “During the past administration, half of the North’s MLAs were cabinet Ministers, and — political differences and allegiances aside — that meant we mattered”.
According to the NCLGA’s Executive Director Oliver Ray, there are some key numbers that should compel northern inclusion in the decision-making process, regardless of who holds the balance of power in Victoria. “Northern BC accounts for eighty percent of provincial exports and eighty percent of BC’s agricultural lands,” said Ray. “This is the traditional territory for one third of all First Nation governments in B.C., sixty percent of B.C.’s overall indigenous population, and we have a demographic that is roughly seventeen percent aboriginal. We are also home to some of the largest resource development projects in North America, including Site C, the largest single investment in BC’s history. From a legal, economic, environmental and logistical standpoint, our ten provincial ridings represent one of the most strategically important places on the continent”.
“We aren’t hoping for one political ideology over another,” stresses Wilbur. “We’re simply insisting that northern municipalities, Regional Districts and First Nations be included in the decision making process. Legislative change, electoral change, the cancelation of some projects and introduction of others can all have a disproportionate effect on many of our communities. And things like job losses, resource allocation, and infrastructure needs in the North actually end up affecting the whole province. So If Andrew Weaver and John Horgan would like to learn about our priorities and perspectives, we would be happy to host them for a roundtable meeting in Prince George. We would certainly welcome their interest!”