|North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice|
provided part of the BC Gov't response
to concerns on rural issues
Ms. Oakes outlined some of the impacts of the wildfires of the summer from the residents of the Interior and provided a review of a community town hall she had hosted where the concerns over the perceived gap between rural and urban issues was expressed by constituents.
For her part, Ms. Rice, reminded the Legislature that she too comes from a rural area and spoke to the theme of how she approaches any talk of a rural/urban divide.
"As the MLA for North Coast and someone who lives in rural B.C., I'm well aware of the challenges that rural British Columbians face. However, I'm also really aware of the fact that we are interdependent. Rural B.C. and urban B.C. are interdependent of each other.
Often there is a message of this rural-urban divide, which I've heard quite a bit lately. I would like to try and get away from that because the urban-rural divide message breaks us apart. It creates anger, competition, and it pits communities against one another."
Ms. Rice then explored the topic a bit further with her review first taking on somewhat of a partisan approach and a not so subtle shot directed towards the former Premier of the Province, Christy Clark.
"We saw this type of division under the former Premier, when she called rural residents a ragtag group of people. Elected and hereditary First Nations chiefs and matriarchs and band council members, sports and commercial fishermen, farmers from the Skeena watershed to tidewater were labelled as the forces of no because they didn't agree with the Premier's message.
As legislators and members of this House, it's incumbent upon us to build each other up, to uplift all British Columbians, regardless of where they live.
From there she turned to some of the concerns from the Interior communities raised by MLA Oakes, moving towards a review of some of the government moves in the months since taking office to address the issue.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is leading the provincial government's support for First Nations and communities in terms of wildlife recovery.
There are four key components of the long-term plan that we're building: people in communities, economy, environment, and infrastructure and reconstruction. We're working closely with the federal government to ensure they keep their commitments in supporting British Columbians as we recover from this year's wildfires.
We are engaging with First Nations and communities to ensure all provincial government agencies are providing the necessary programs and supports to assist wildfire recovery efforts. A key component of economic recovery is getting timber to mills, as the member opposite was just speaking about.
To that end, forestry staff are working closely with licensees and expediting their cutting permits and issuing salvage licences. Timber that was cut down to make fire guards is already being milled. Forestry staff are also prioritizing areas for reforestation, not only to rebuild timber supply for mills but to restore wildlife habitat.
Ms. Rice also outlined some of the financial programs that have been put in place to address some of the rebuilding efforts in those communities affected by this summers wildfire season.
You can review her full address to the Legislature comes around the 11:10 point from the Minutes of the Monday morning proceedings in the House.
As well you can view her presentation through the Monday morning Chamber video available through the Legislature archive.
Ms. Rice also provided a video presentation of her response to the themes, as part of her Facebook page.
More notes related to the North Coast MLA's work in the Legislature can be found on our archive page.
For a wider overview of items of interest from the provincial capital see our political portal D'Arcy McGee.