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BC rural caucus meetings bring forward concerns from the region

BC rural caucus members and staff (L-R) Melissa Nawakowski, staff, MLA John Slater, MLA Donna Barnett, MLA Eric Foster and Lorne Mayencourt, staff meet with Boundary region citizens to hear concerns; Photo, Mona Mattei
Over two days of tight meeting schedules the B.C. Rural Caucus met with Boundary region locals and politicians to take forward concerns to the provincial level.
 
MLAs Eric Foster (Vernon-Monashee), Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcoltin), and John Slater (Boundary-Similkameen) held meetings in Grand Forks, Greenwood and Midway over Monday and Tuesday. They were joined by caucus staff Lorne Mayencourt, director of outreach for the B.C. Liberal Caucus, and Melissa Nawakowski, outreach manager.
 
The caucus heard presentations from groups involved with health care, wildlife management, agriculture, education, forestry and trails. City council representatives met with the MLAs in all three communities while regional directors attended in joint sessions.
 
Each MLA had specific topics that tweaked their interest from the different conversations they held with the groups. Barnett and Foster were both well-versed in forestry, while Barnett’s background also had her attention settle on trails issues and health care.
 
“Trails are one of my passions, snowmobile trails first of all, the rest came later!” joked Barnett as she committed to take information forward on a future trails system proposed by the West Kootenay All-Terrain Vehicle club. “I realize how important it is (to have well-maintained trails); I realize how much fun it is.”
 
Foster is a member of the Environment and Land Use Committee and lent his support to the needs of the local abattoir development process.
 
“The province is developing regions for wildlife management and it’s a good idea because you manage a region as opposed to a province,” said Foster in discussing wildlife management issues. “The issues that you have here are not even the same as the issues we have in the North Okanagan. It’s really important that that is part of a whole plan. Get the local committees made up of all stakeholders and then develop a management plan around that so that we’re not dealing with Prince George and the Granby on the same page.”
 
Local representative, Slater, played more of a background role being familiar with the regional concerns and allowing his colleagues to gain insight into the priorities of the Boundary region. Diana Thomas, assistant to MLA Slater, organized the series of meetings for the group. Meetings in Grand Forks were held at the Broadacres Care Facility which the caucus took time to tour as well.
 
While they were in Midway, the caucus had a quick tour of the Vaagen Fiber Canada mill site and their timber processing yard prior to meeting with council.

The Rural Caucus left with large quantities of documents, a better understanding of regional concerns and commitments to bring forward several issues that have the potential to create change on the local level for Boundary residents.