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 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

Terrace RCMP arrested an impaired driver and found illicit drugs, weapons and stolen property in the vehicle on Nov. 28, 2020. (File Photo)
Terrace RCMP arrest impaired driver in possession of weapons

Weapons, illicit drugs, stolen property found in vehicle

A COVID-19 exposure has been recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace. The exposure occurred between Nov. 23 and Nov. 26, 2020. (Centennial Christian School Facebook photo)
COVID-19 exposure recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace

It’s the first known school exposure in Terrace

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Haleigh Callison during a photo shoot for the Toronto Furies when she played professionally in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. (File photo)
Former Smithereen frustrated with COVID-deniers following horrific bout with the disease

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

India farm protest Dec. 1 2020 (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)
Demonstrators gather in Terrace to support farmers in India

Many farmers are protesting changes to Indian agriculture law

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Most Read