The three candidates for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Area A (Smithers Rural) fielded questions in Telkwa last week at the all-candidates meeting on Thursday.
Those candidates are Eugene Bekar, Stoney Stoltenberg and Shelley Browne.
The Telkwa Senior’s Hall was near full as people came out to hear from RDBN and Telkwa council candidates.
The first question was directed to Browne who was asked, if she were elected, if she would look into why the RDBN hasn’t looked into developing a community wildfire plan to prevent devastating fires, such as the one in Slave Lake last summer.
Browne noted her three years working with the provincial emergency program (PEP) and said she has a strong understanding of how that works and how the layers of government fit into that.
She said she would absolutely look into wildfire management issues if she were elected.
Stoltenberg was asked the same question.
He explained that the regional district has its hands tied in doing such work.
“The regional district has no lands,” he said. “If it’s not private property it belongs to the province.”
He said that in Burns Lake the regional district’s emergency coordinator is working on an emergency wildfire program, however the only lands that they can actually deal with are lands that they own.
Browne used a rebuttal card to reply that as representatives they have to look beyond what is their jurisdiction to find solutions.
The candidates’ stance on Enbridge was also asked, in particular in relation to how certain other members of the regional district are part of Enbridge’s sponsored Citizens Advisory Boards (CAB).
Stoltenberg took a firm stance against the proposed pipeline.
“Enbridge is never going to run through the regional district of Bulkley Nechako Area A as long as I’m director,” he said.
He said he couldn’t speak for the other members who are on the CAB, but he said he chose not to be a part of it.
Eugene Bekar used a rebuttal card to give his two cents, taking a softer approach to the project.
“I think it would be foolish to make any decision on Enbridge,” he said. “There’s a big review going on right now and it’s going to come out fairly shortly and we’ll have a lot more information.”
He added, “If the assessment comes out that it’s going to go ahead there’s not much we can do and I think it would be a positive thing for the economy of this area of the province.”
Browne was pressed on her platform of bringing high speed internet to the rural areas and on how she would implement recycling programs.
She said she had no firm plans on how it would work out but the way to bring Internet to the area would be “whatever’s going to work,” and to work with other government agencies to make it happen.
She ran out of time to provide a full answer to the recycling program but was able to say that the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine has a program in place this regional district could look to for an example.