Mayor reports on ministerial meetings

Trent Ernst, Editor


Mayor Darwin Wren, CAO Barry Elliott, and EDO Jordan Wall met with provincial ministers earlier in the year, taking a Made in Tumbler Ridge plan for recovery to Victoria.

Mayor Wren says they met with Bill Bennett (Energy and Mines) about approving wind power projects. Not in opposition to Site C but to complement. They talked about the permitting process and that there is currently no call for power.

“These are shovel ready projects, but there is no call for power,” says Wren. “Minster Bennett indicated clearly that he was in support of Tumbler Ridge, but he couldn’t make any promises. But he should be a strong ally.” Bennett hinted, says the mayor, that perhaps there has been too much attention on Site C, and maybe there should be more attention paid to these type of projects.

They also met with Ministers Shirley Bond (Jobs Tourism and Skills Training) and Naomi Yamamoto (Tourism and Small Business) about the Geopark, museum funding and turning Tumbler Ridge into an international destination. Again, says Wren, it was a positive meeting, though there were no concrete promises, though they gave some suggestions on expertise on trail development that we may be able to tie into. They also suggested that, with foreign investment in Tumbler Ridge, there is the option of finding funding in the form of Chinese philanthropy. They discussed the Murray Forest Service Road. There need to be a cross ministry meeting, says Minister Bond, who also suggested that perhaps a private members bill in regards to fossil protection might be a good idea.

They also met with Steve Thompson (Forests) on expansion of community forest. “Duncan was there, and he made a strong case,” says Mayor Wren. “At the allowable cut levels, we might not be able to have a Community Forest past 2015.” The regional manager attended the meeting on the phone, and will work with McKellar and EDO Jordan Wall on this issue. They talked about how some projects are being held up by permitting.

Thompson directed staff to do what they could. The topic of fossil protection also came up, and he said he will have staff look at some of the draft legislation back in 2003.

They had a meeting with Minister Amrik Virk (Advanced Education) to talk about making Tumbler Ridge a coal mining training centre of excellence. Quite frankly, says Mayor Wren, he’s not sure that the Minister understood what we were talking about, so this will need follow up. “What we were asking was that the curriculum and groundwork be done now, as we don’t want to be at ground zero when the announcement comes down that the mines are moving forward,” says Mayor Wren. “I believe Northern Lights College, Dehua, HD and the other companies will be in support of this.”

They met with Minister Coralee Oakes (Community, Sport and Cultural Development) and went over the entire plan with her. “She is from Quesnel and saw the mills go down there,” says Mayor Wren. “She talked about potential partnering for paleontological research, and about engaging CDI around some potential opportunities.”

They also met with minister Teresa Wat (International Trade), who was in Tumbler Ridge not that long ago, says the Mayor. They talked about increase trade, as well as the Geopark. One of the interesting things that came out of the discussion was her keen interest in the Geopark designation. Mayor Wren says it allows her the opportunity to go out and tell the international community how you can have resource attraction and environmental protection at the same time. She is going to invite the consulate general of China to come to Tumbler Ridge. She also mentioned possibility of Chinese philanthropy for the Museum.

All the meetings were positive, says the mayor, and all will require follow up. “There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

EDO Jordan Wall was also there, and he had some other meetings. “The work to connect with the other players has begun,” he says. “We’ve talked to Dale Morgan from the Ministry of Forest about upping the annual allowable cut. Now is a good time to be approaching as annual allowable cut has just been determined.” He also Spoke to Clean Energy BC, an organization that has been lobbying on behalf of alternate energy, including wind power. They talked about how the District can partner with them. “We hope to develop some sort of joint statement with them, local First Nations and wind power companies,” says Wall.

While there, he also met with representatives from Dehua and Brookfield to discuss their projects with them.