When Labour Day comes, there’s usually a changing of the mindset. We take a minute to look back on the summer and the memories created; then we start looking forward to the fall and the kids heading back to school and work returning to a normal schedule.
But this isn’t a normal year. The summer memories seem all too familiar, with fires raging and the pandemic creating more problems. We all want to look forward, but seem blocked at every attempt. We will get through this, together, and we need to have a plan for how we move forward as a province – rebuilding the economy, communities and organizations that have suffered over the last 18 months.
As a member of the Select Standing Committee on Finance, I spent last week listening to groups from across British Columbia have their say on what needs to be in next year’s budget. And I came away impressed by the thoughtfulness and ingenuity that was offered up.
Forestry is a major issue in our riding, and the Council of Forest Industries spoke on the need to modernize the sector and do it with a facts-based approach that involves everyone at the table. There are serious issues around cost structure, access to fibre and revenue-sharing, and the industry is ready to do the work to keep forestry sustainable.
After our summer of fires, it was heartbreaking to hear from the Lytton District of Chamber of Commerce about the devastation there. They came with three simple requests: a toll-free phone number so residents can get updates, a commitment to accelerated building permits and quick reinstatement of provincial services.
It’s not all business groups, by the way. We heard from Exploration Place in Prince George and Science World in Vancouver. We heard from KidSport BC and the BC Soccer Association. All these groups share a determination to survive and thrive. They want to make sure the doors and fields remain open. They’re not asking for the moon, they’re asking for support to get them over a hurdle.
The BC Rodeo Association also made a presentation highlighting the need for the province to support these groups. They, as we know, have a big financial impact on our communities but more importantly, they provide an outlet to celebrate our Western heritage and for our youth to enjoy the opportunity to compete for scholarships.
The in-person presentations are fully booked, but we still want to hear from you. I’d encourage everyone with ideas to make a written submission using this link: https://consultations.leg.bc.ca/Submission/Create?cons=Budget2022