Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen was appointed as B.C.’s municipal affairs minister last week. (Nathan Cullen/Facebook)

Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen was appointed as B.C.’s municipal affairs minister last week. (Nathan Cullen/Facebook)

New municipal affairs minister in talks with Terrace council to address social issues

Nathan Cullen will work on housing crisis, climate resilience and immigration in new role

Newly appointed Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen says that northwest B.C. will soon benefit from more provincial investments aimed at dealing with housing shortages and social issues.

Cullen, whose appointment to the provincial cabinet was announced last week, said he has had several “good” conversations with Terrace’s mayor and is aware of the strain on local governments to deal with housing shortage and other social issues like rising rate of crime, mental health, addictions and homelessness, among others.

“I’m going to be working with her [Mayor Carol Leclerc] and the council and local police and others to bring together relevant ministries to start to talk about the immediate and longer term solutions,” Cullen said. According to the minister, some of these solutions would also look at justice reform and recidivism.

The minister’s assurance comes weeks after the Terrace council expressed frustrations with the provincial government for not doing enough to help with the rising wave of problems faced by northwest municipalities. The City of Terrace also drafted resolutions to be sent to municipal lobby groups to highlight the BC Prosecution Service’s failure to keep repeat offenders off the streets.

READ MORE: B.C. prosecutors failing public says City of Terrace after repeat offenders back on streets

“We’re an advocate for helping Terrace get onto a better foot because I think the pressures have been mounting over time and people are understandably concerned with the state of their community,” Cullen said.

Dealing with the housing crisis is a priority on the agenda for the new municipal affairs minister.

Cullen will work with David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for housing, on solutions to increase housing supply and address the housing crisis. He’ll also work with local governments on climate change solutions and preparing for and mitigating disasters.

“I’ve had the privilege of having good relationships with many local leaders for many years and as communities recover from the impacts of COVID-19, I will work with cabinet ministers to support more jobs, infrastructure investment and transportation initiatives,” Cullen said.

Cullen is also responsible for immigration, where he’ll work to streamline the foreign credential process so newcomers can more quickly find their place in B.C. He’ll also be working with the federal government to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion through a new fast-tracked process.

Cullen previously served as minister of state for lands and natural resources. He was first elected as MLA for Stikine in October 2020, after serving as New Democrat member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley from 2004-2019.