Liberal policy to help the north, says MLA Belsey

  • Nov. 5, 2004 8:00 a.m.

The BC Liberal party endorsed a policy today (Nov. 5) which calls for provincial government offices to remain in northern communities, MLA Bill Belsey says.
The policy states that while the BC Liberals are in favour of “effective and efficient ” delivery of services, the party also supports maintaining Forest Service and other ministry offices in northern locations.
“We do not support the moving of them away, there are certain efficiencies by leaving them,” Mr. Belsey told the Observer from Whistler, where the Liberals are holding their annual general meeting today and tomorrow.
The policy came in response to northern constituents, who have complained about how huge Liberal cutbacks have affected their small communities. Here on the Charlottes, one of the changes which particularly galled islanders was the timber sales program’s relocation to Chilliwack.
The fact that the Liberals endorsed the policy doesn’t mean it will automatically become government policy, even though the Liberals are the governing party, Mr. Belsey said. However, it will carry some weight.
“The Forests Minister was there, so he heard it clearly,” he said. “There wasn’t a soul that spoke against it.”
The Liberal delegates also voted in favour of a policy asking government to allow the north to export up to 35 percent of its raw logs for another five years. At the moment, the government does not allow raw log exports from the Charlottes, and the islands were also excluded from this policy, Mr. Belsey said.
However, he said that one delegate asked why the Charlottes should be left out, saying that most logs are already exported from the islands to the southern part of the province, so exporting to another country would hardly make any difference.
Mr. Belsey said he supports raw log exports from the north because it means at least some jobs for a region which has been hard hit by the closure of Skeena Cellulose.
“It puts loggers to work, truck drivers, scalers, tug boat operators,” he said. “All those people get some work. I don’t feel we should be saying no to them.”

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