On this side of the Rocky Mountains, we’ve grown used to being ignored by the government in Victoria the past few years. The Peace is far enough away from Victoria that they are happy to forget about us and our needs.
They only thing they seem to remember is the resource dollars we send to help pay for services in the rest of B.C. Right now, the government is putting that revenue stream and the future of the Peace at risk – along with the livelihood of people in the resource sector and in the wide range of local businesses that support the sector.
Any new resource development has been frozen in the wake of the B.C. Supreme Court victory of the Blueberry River First Nations that declared the “province may not continue to authorize activities that breach the promises included in the treaty.” The decision called on the government and Blueberry River to act with diligence, come together, and collaborate on solutions.
I’m hearing plenty of concerns about the future in communities and with the resource sector operators. Everything is at a standstill – government staff are not making decisions, permits are waiting for approval, and people are worried. That is not the fundamental problem here though. The real challenge is the provincial government leadership seems to have vanished on this file.
The court decision called on them to “consult and negotiate for the purpose of establishing timely enforceable mechanisms to assess and manage the cumulative impact of industrial development on Blueberry’s treaty rights.” So far, not a word from government on when this will happen. Not a word from government on how they plan to consult and collaborate. Not a word from officials on what could be an opportunity for the Province of B.C. and the Blueberry River First Nations to build a real win-win out of the court decision.
A lasting settlement could ensure prosperity for the people of Blueberry River, for the people of the Peace, and for our province. Instead, provincial inaction is threatening to shut down our entire region to opportunity and jobs for the men and women who live here. By abandoning our area, the message government seems to be sending is that the best place to build a future is somewhere else. That is a loss for everyone across the region. We have the chance to build a brighter future for everyone, and do it in a way that is sustainable.
The entire problem here is the lack of action or even words from the provincial government.
Their doing nothing will only deliver disappointment for everyone in the Peace.
My Constituency Office in Dawson Creek is ready to help anyone with any problems with provincial government services. If you’ve hit a roadblock, the office can make inquiries. You can also share your thoughts and ideas by email at mike.bernier.MLA@leg.bc.ca or through my Facebook page at MikeBernierBC, or by calling my office at (250) 782-3430, or 1 (855) 582-3430.