Premier’s rep hears local concerns

John Les, parliamentary secretary to premier Christy Clark, was in Kitimat last Tuesday as part of a fact finding sweep of the Northwest.

John Les, parliamentary secretary to premier Christy Clark, was in Kitimat last Tuesday as part of a fact finding sweep of the Northwest.

Les explained the premier wants to put out a province-wide jobs strategy later this month and had asked him to “touch base” with communities “to see what the barriers are to job creation, where investments are going in the province and what the various needs are.”

He added Clark wanted the job strategy to reflect current conditions in the province and what government needed to pay attention to.

Asked how his meeting with the Chamber of Commerce had gone, Les pointed out “the mood has certainly changed (from his last visit). Now there is certainly a careful optimism with all the new investment that is coming into this region.”

The concern now was “where are we going to find all the people and all the housing? How are we going to be able to train all the people of these new skills we are going to need? Where are we going to find all the welders, for example?”

Les said in a way that was a good problem to have, but it challenged the provincial government in terms of figuring out how it is going to meet those needs.

“What it points out to me is Kitimat’s best days are probably ahead of it,” he said, citing the LNG plants that were going to provide long-term employment in the community.

Reminded that the RTA smelter modernisation would see 500 jobs disappear and that the closure of Eurocan had already cost the community more than that, Les said the LNG plants, “as one example”, would provide replacement jobs.

“What’s good about some of the new economic aspects coming along is it is going to broaden the economic base of the community,” he added.

And if the Enbridge Northern Gateway project went ahead that would bring other possibilities such as an upgrader which would treat the bitumen crude, stripping out other products which would drive other industries here.

“I think all of that is pretty darn exciting,” Les added.

As for whether the Enbridge project would get the go ahead, he said that depended who you talked to. “I don’t know which way that will go, but I certainly wouldn’t put a disproportionate number of eggs in the Enbridge basket.”

Asked what government can actually do to create jobs, he replied, “Government’s role in a healthy economy is to create the environment and create the possibilities. It’s not for government to actually do the job creation, that’s what the private sector does so well.”

Explaining that if there is a market opportunity, the private sector will go after it, he added, “there’s no better example than liquefied natural gas.”

Noting the development of fracking technology had turned BC into potentially a major gas exporter, Les said, “None of that was driven by government, all of that was driven by the private sector.”

That said, the government’s role was to ensure the required infrastructure – airports, highways, ports – were in place.

For example, the Kitimat-Terrace airport could be “an integral asset” in supplying the new economic boom that is coming. And restoring customs services there “has to be part of that equation”, he said.

While that was a federal responsibility, it was something the province has to push.

“At the end of the day, how can a few customs inspectors be the deal breaker,” he asked. “When you are talking about the billions of dollars of investment, you can’t let those picayune things stop the show.”

On the subject of a road down the west side of the Douglas Channel, Les said that had been raised by both the mayor in an earlier meeting that day and the Chamber.

 

“I think its critically important,” he agreed. “You’ve got this tremendous shipping channel here with very little access to it. We’re going to have to put our heads together and find a way to solve that one.”

 

 

Just Posted

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The District of Kitimat will be awarding business owners with a store front up to $5,000 to cover up to 50 per cent of exterior renovations. (Norhtern Development logo)
The District of Kitimat is awarding $5,000 to storefront owners for exterior renovations

The district has set aside $20,000 this year and non-profits are also eligible

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read