BAD WEATHER Oct. 18 week conspired to keep provincial finance minister Mike de Jong from visiting the region.
He had planned to fly into Terrace from Kelowna via Prince George Oct. 17 but bad weather in Prince George first delayed a departure time and then resulted in de Jong returning to Vancouver.
He then attempted to fly out of Vancouver Oct. 18 but foggy weather not only delayed take off but when his plane did fly north, it was diverted to Prince Rupert because of fog at the airport here.
That resulted in the cancellation of a number of appointments, including a two-hour reception to be hosted by the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce the afternoon of Oct. 18.
Also delayed, rescheduled and then finally scrubbed altogether was a public event to promote the announcement of improved cell service between Terrace and Prince George.
A search and rescue truck, fire truck, ambulance, police vehicle and Telus vehicle were lined up side by side in front of the fire hall in anticipation of de Jong’s visit.
Firefighters, ambulance personnel, a police officer, search and rescue officials and others were in attendance.
“It’s very unfortunate and the minister apologizes,” said finance ministry official Glen Plummer.
There are no immediate plans to reschedule a visit by de Jong.
Had he been able to land, de Jong would have been just the second provincial finance minister since 2008 to visit the northwest.
He had planned to take in comments leading to next year’s provincial budget.
Plummer said that would now most likely happen by having de Jong conduct a telephone town hall.
Speaking by telephone Oct. 17 when de Jong was still hopeful of getting to the northwest, he said he was looking forward to his visit.
“It’s important to look at what’s going on in planning for future growth,” said de Jong of the northwest which is anticipating a boom from the development of a liquefied natural gas industry.
De Jong also provided a provincial budget update, saying latest spending information indicates the province has a surplus of $136 million.
“To me $136 million is a lot of money and on a budget of $44 billion, it’s razor thin,” said de Jong.
“But we are tracking spending and we have an excellent track record for expenditure control,” he added.
“But there are certain aspects we can’t control. For instance, if we have a bad fire year. This year was not the worst but it did cost.”
De Jong said BC has “turned the financial corner” and has retained it Triple A credit rating, a factor that reduces its borrowing cost and, ultimately, impact on the taxpayer.