B.C. Premier John Horgan met with a handful of northern mayors in Prince George Tuesday. Here he tours the new Forestry Innovation Centre at city hall in Quesnel the day before. (Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Premier John Horgan met with a handful of northern mayors in Prince George Tuesday to talk about challenges their communities face.

“When we look at the electoral map, these areas are represented by Opposition members, and in no way do I want to diminish the hard work of those members of the legislature, but quite frankly we don’t hear about the positive initiatives that are happening in the community and we don’t hear from them about how we can work constructively to realize change,” Horgan told reporters after a meeting with Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson, Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson and Fort St. James Mayor Bev Playfair.

Horgan said building the 20/21 budget is underway for tabling next month and it was critical to meet face-to-face with mayors to help inform budget discussions.

The meeting in Prince George wrapped up a tour that saw the premier meet with leaders in Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel.

Read more: B.C. Premier calls Quesnel a ‘hub of innovation’ in face of forestry downturn

Topics covered in Tuesday’s meeting included mental health and addictions, homelessness and the forest sector.

“I’m very excited about how we can take back some of the information we shared today,” Horgan said, adding the mayors also gave input on how better the province can make strategic investments to meet changing needs.

Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall described it as an important meeting and said the opioid crisis in Canada was a big crux of the conversation.

“In Prince George, as the northern capital and hub city in the north, we are the recipient of a number of people who require services both on the health side and service side,” Hall said. “I talked about how do we provide those services and how can we get help from the province to provide those services.”

Horgan noted the focus on B.C.’s forestry sector needs to be on maximizing forests rather than shooting to get as much volume as possible out of the forest into mills or onto freighters to somewhere else.

“There are challenges in forestry, we acknowledge that, they are not new. I think it has resulted over decades from a drive to liquidate rather than build a road map that’s sustainable for communities and sustainable for forests,” Horgan said, adding he is very optimistic.

Horgan said the tour was built originally around an invite to the Fort St. James Winter Classic hockey game and was timed around the approval of the business plan for a new hospital in that community.

Read more: Premier Horgan announces business plan approval for new hospital in Fort St. James

When asked about declining to meet with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal Gas Link project while he was on the tour, Horgan responded he received the invitation when he returned to work on Monday, Jan. 13, and was not able to fit in a meeting with the hereditary chiefs because the days of the tour were already all full and finalized.

“Last year I spent a day-long session, Minister Donaldson and I, in a smoke house feast at the invitation of Wet’suwet’in hereditary leaders and it was a very full and comprehensive day where I learned a great deal about some of the challenges, not just in respect to pipelines, but in the historic decision of the Supreme Court in the Delgamuukw case,” he said.

Since then, he added, the province has been having almost weekly meetings, government to government, with the office of the Wet’suwet’in and the hereditary leadership to find a way forward on a range of issues.

“To suggest that I and my government have not been available is not the case. Yesterday I sent a letter to the hereditary leadership. They declined a telephone call from me to set a time for a meeting that might be convenient in the future. My letter reiterated what I’ve just said.”



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Mayor Walt Cobb said he was not made aware of, nor did he receive an invitation to the meeting with the Premier.

“I can only assume it was because we in Williams Lake have been somewhat fortunate in not having a permanent shutdown of any of our mills is the reason we were not included,” Cobb told the Tribune Wednesday.

Cobb said the slowdown has affected supporting industries like loggers and truckers, but so far they have not been included in any funding supports he is aware of.

“I did have a conference call with the federal minister of Natural Resources this morning with 16 different mayors from the north and discussed many of thesame issues and the call for assistance from the federal government.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Screen shot of a cabin somewhere in the Bulkley Valley from rare 1955 film footage of the area.
VIDEO: More rare film footage of the Bulkley Valley in 1955

Can you help identify the locations and/or people in these videos

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

The outbreak is the first within B.C.’s school system since classes resumed back in September

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

Most Read