In an open letter to NDP leader John Horgan, 21 BC mayors call for quick approvals of shovel-ready projects involving the aquaculture, forestry, mining and energy sectors
By Fabian Dawson
Twenty-one mayors from natural resource reliant communities in BC, including four from North Vancouver Island that depend on aquaculture, are calling on NDP leader John Horgan to quickly approve shovel-ready projects, that will boost the province’s pandemic recovery efforts.
The mayors in a unified stance made the call in an open letter to Horgan, who is in the midst of assembling his new cabinet following the NDP’s recent election win.
The call also comes in the wake of reports that at least six major eco-coalition efforts are building capacity to act as “restraining influences on cabinet decision making” and to work with “MLAs expected to step into the caucus directly from environmental organizations known for their radical agendas”
Members of the coalition, several known for their extremism partly funded by foreign interests, are seeking to stop logging, mining, energy and aquaculture-related expansion in BC, while trying to block information about funding sources, according to information from the lobbyist-registrar in Victoria.
The mayors in the letter to Horgan said: “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, B.C. has undergone a tremendous economic shock. Fortunately, B.C.’s resource industries have been able to persevere during this period. Our mines have continued to operate, the forest sector was able to take advantage of soaring lumber prices during 2020, aquaculture continues to invest and innovate, and four major energy projects have kept British Columbia workers busy building the resource infrastructure of the future.”
“British Columbia relies on its natural resource product exports as a central pillar of sustaining — and improving — the economic well-being of our five million residents.
“Over the next four years, supporting responsible natural resource development will continue to be one of the most crucial things that you can do as premier…supporting natural resources means ensuring the right policies are in place and including us in those policy discussions,” the mayors said, asking for the voices of their communities to be heard around the cabinet table.
The mayors want some core pillars enshrined in Horgan’s mandate letters to his new cabinet members. They include;
• Move quickly to enable shovel-ready projects to proceed;
• Send the right messages to international investors to ensure that B.C.’s most resilient industries can succeed in uncertain global investment conditions;
• Recognize in your economic planning the unique advantage of globally carbon-competitive exports from B.C.’s resource-based industries;
• Put workers and communities first as your government delivers on its campaign commitments;
• Ensure that any new regulations affecting the ability to deliver on the first four pillars during the pandemic recovery period are considered carefully.
BC’s salmon farmers were the first out of the natural resources industry gate with a comprehensive post-Covid 19 economic recovery plan that outlined investments worth $1.4 billion in innovation, new technology and infrastructure. The investments through 2050 would create almost 10,000 new jobs and add a cumulative $44 billion in new economic activity to propel Canada’s Blue Economy, said a report by RIAS Inc., an independent economics consulting firm. That includes $113 million in shovel-ready aquaculture projects to generate nearly 450 new well-paid jobs.
The salmon farmers said Ottawa and Victoria must provide a predictable policy approach towards salmon farming in BC for the planned investments to attain their targets.
With 20 First Nation agreements to operate in traditional territories, BC salmon farmers now support close to 6,600 jobs and generate $89 million in annual federal, provincial, and municipal taxes.
The open letter to Horgan , penned by Mayor Lori Ackerman of Fort St. John and Mayor Walt Cobb of Williams Lake were signed by Mayor Andy Adams, Campbell River; Mayor Allen Courtoreille, Chetwynd; Mayor Lee Pratt, Cranbrook; Mayor Dale Bumstead, Dawson Creek; Mayor Michelle Staples, Duncan; Mayor Sarrah Storey, Fraser Lake; Mayor Brad Unger, Gold River; Mayor Phil Germuth, Kitimat; Mayor Joan Atkinson, Mackenzie; Mayor Linda Brown, Merritt; Mayor Gary Foster, Northern Rockies; Mayor Brad West, Port Coquitlam; Mayor Dennis Dugas, Port Hardy; Mayor Gaby Wickstrom, Port McNeill; Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Pouce Coupe; Mayor Doug McCallum, Surrey; Mayor Rob Fraser, Taylor; Mayor Carol Leclerc, Terrace; Mayor Keith Bertrand, Tumbler Ridge.
(BC government image of Premier John Horgan in his office on a conference call)