Telkwa’s new economic development officer brings worldly knowledge

The Village’s newest hire hails from Ghana

From Africa to Ontario to B.C., an economic development officer has made his home in Telkwa.

Richard Darko has recently been hired as the Village’s new economic development officer and is so far loving the community.

He previously held a similar position in a small village in Ghana before deciding to come to Canada to better his education.

He moved across the globe in 2015 by himself after a few friends had made the same trek. He started out in Ontario and studied at the University of Guelph before realizing British Columbia’s education system was less expensive. He attended UNBC in Prince George and obtained his masters in development economics.

While the lure of a less expensive lifestyle brought him out west, he said Northern B.C.’s beautiful territory and lakes and rivers kept him here.

“It is a nice community, the environment and the bodies of water, and the fishing and hiking,” he said about Telkwa. “It is a good adventure and this is a good opportunity to live in the north. When you are in PG, you think that is the north but when you get here then you see that there are a lot of beautiful things in the north.”

He was excited about the opportunity to move to Telkwa and take on the role of economic development officer. Darko said the position is similar to the one he held in Ghana.

“I was familiar with the working terrain, the community development, the economic development, stakeholder engagement, working with businesses,” he explained. “I was motivated to work with the Village. Most importantly, coming from Ghana and coming from a village and having worked with that village, and helping them to build up economic development.”

He said the biggest difference in his previous job and this one is the way people think, but other than that, economic development is the same in all small communities.

He got into the field because economics and helping communities grow are passions of his.

“All my working life, I’ve been working closely with communities to come up with strategies to help them develop, look at opportunities and leverage those opportunities and deal with the weaknesses and help them grow. That has been in my fibre,” he said.

He worked in a small village before and the size of Telkwa doesn’t scare him.

“If small communities don’t grow, it won’t translate to growth at the macro level. When smaller communities are growing, it is a reflection of what is happening at the national level. I’m more interested in helping smaller communities grow. At the end of the day, if that doesn’t happen, the growth we see is not a reflection of the entire nation or country,” he added.

He has big goals for Telkwa and is hoping to attract more business to the region and encourage more people to call Telkwa home.

“The biggest challenge here is a housing deficit,” he said. “The question is how to close that. When I came, the community was in the process of completing a housing assessment and that is now done. They are looking at ways to implement that assessment.”

The housing survey was done earlier this summer and found that Telkwa is becoming increasingly more expensive for both renters and buyers with a need for more affordable housing and smaller home options.

He said if Telkwa Coal starts up, that will help attract more people and business and then possibly more housing, but only if it is done right.

“Telkwa Coal coming on board, that will be a full crew around which economic development will take off here because of a lot of businesses and people will want to come here,” he said. “But we have seen historically, or previously, in terms of mining communities, the mine workers live outside and come in to work because of the shift system. It is all about engagement and dialogue how to forge a relationship and have the workers live here to improve the fortunes of the community.”

Darko has no plans to leave Telkwa anytime soon and doesn’t want to move back to Africa. He still has family there that he would like to visit but for the foreseeable future, the Bulkley Valley is home.


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

Just Posted

Hamhuis hangs up his skates

The Nashville Predators defenceman and Smithereen spent 16 years in the NHL

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

Cyclist dead following Hwy 16 collision with pickup

The cyclist was a 41-year-old man from Smithers

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

External community engagement process launched to help implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title

Smithers contractor refurbishes sailboat for Northwest Passage adventure

Ron Smith, who has been working on the “Obsession” for 12 years, will put her in the water this week

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

B.C.’s fuel suppliers to publish prices to provide accountability: minister

Bruce Ralston says move will ensure industry publicly accountable for unexplained prices increases

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Man suffers serious injuries in bear attack in remote area near Lillooet

It was deemed a defensive attack, no efforts were made to locate the animal

Missed rent payments because of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Most Read