Time for the Premier to listen to rural British Columbians
After almost three years in office, Premier John Horgan finally took his first tour to a region that has seen a lot of hardship over the past year.
From months of dwindling job numbers, countless setbacks for a forestry sector in crisis, to a sham-filled caribou consultation; northern B.C. residents had hoped to hear some good news from their Premier.
However, not only did relief not materialize during his tour, John Horgan doubled down on his disconnect through missed opportunities and several tone-deaf comments.
At a roundtable meeting of northern mayors, the Premier remarked that “quite frankly we don’t hear from [Opposition MLAs] about the positive initiatives that are happening in the community.”
This assertion is just flat-out false — I’d instead argue that perhaps the Premier has just failed to listen to the concerns of British Columbians outside of NDP-held ridings.
As an opposition MLA, I have worked on a number of significant matters including: making sure that Invermere (and our headwater communities) were added to the list of Columbia River Treaty public meetings; working with Golden constituents and the Town on addressing ground water extraction for commercial bottling; working with the City of Kimberley on a wildfire interface pilot committee; making sure the Premier included Revelstoke during the government’s Caribou Recovery public meeting; informing the government of overlooked concerns from our communities along the Highway 1 closure/ detour route; to continuously working at getting our border residents access to health care that is closest to their support system; and to highlighting my Kimberley constituency office as the first carbon-neutral MLA office in the province — I am proud to represent Columbia River-Revelstoke.
Our region is fairing well; however, you don’t need to look far to see that so many of our rural communities in B.C. are struggling. The NDP has failed to provide any meaningful assistance to the struggling inter-connected forestry sector. Job numbers have seen a steady decline over the past seven months, the Rural Dividend Fund (that supplied many of our riding’s critical and innovative projects over the years) has been suspended for rural B.C., and lastly, reliable infrastructure jobs have been put in jeopardy due to the government’s unnecessary Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) scheme.
The Illecillewaet highway project first announced in 2015 by our previous government was set to cost $35 million. Now almost five years later, thanks to the NDP’s very short-list of approved unions, the cost is 143% higher than we budgeted.
The Kicking Horse Canyon project has suffered through many delays, despite being of critical importance to my constituent’s safety, the CBA framework has pushed costs associated with the project by adding another $150 million onto the budget.
Costs are rising, key promises aren’t being fulfilled, and people need action. When is John Horgan going to listen to issues that matter to rural British Columbians?
Doug Clovechok is MLA for Columbia River – Revelstoke