Telkwa’s new economic development officer brings worldly knowledge

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

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

(Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: Town of Smithers lifts alert for high levels of chlorine in water

Residents are advised town water is now safe to use

Garry Merkel has been recognized for his work in culturally appropriate Indigenous education with an honourary doctorate from the University of British Columbia.
Tahltan educator recognized with honorary doctorate from UBC

Garry Merkel has dedicated his life to improving Indigenous educational outcomes

Gareth Manderson, general manager BC Works, and Bandstra’s Zach Runions and Steve Collins. Photo supplied
Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

As the snow in Manning Park melts, searchers are able to get a little farther each day. Photo submitted
Family resumes search for son missing in B.C.’s Manning park since October

‘This is our child, and we don’t give up on our children,’ said mother of Jordan, Josie Naterer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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 health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada buys 65M Pfizer booster shots for protection against COVID-19 variants

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the deal with Pfizer includes options to add 30 million doses in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024

A plan flew over the Lower Mainland with a sign expressing some Canucks fans’ discontent with the team’s general manager. (Niqhil Velji - Twitter Screenshot)
#FireBenning movement gets off the ground in Metro Vancouver

Canucks fans raise enough money to fly banner over Metro Vancouver asking for team GM to be canned

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

Richard Desautel with supporters outside the courthouse in Nelson, B.C., in 2016. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
UPDATED: Sinixt, First Nation bordering Canada-U.S., can claim Indigenous rights, top court rules

The decision essentially reverses a 1956 declaration the Sinixt were extinct

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

Most Read