Premier John Horgan met with a handful of northern mayors in Prince George Tuesday to talk about challenges their communities face.
“When we look at the electoral map, these areas are represented by Opposition members, and in no way do I want to diminish the hard work of those members of the legislature, but quite frankly we don’t hear about the positive initiatives that are happening in the community and we don’t hear from them about how we can work constructively to realize change,” Horgan told reporters after a meeting with Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson, Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson and Fort St. James Mayor Bev Playfair.
Horgan said building the 20/21 budget is underway for tabling next month and it was critical to meet face-to-face with mayors to help inform budget discussions.
The meeting in Prince George wrapped up a tour that saw the premier meet with leaders in Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel.
Topics covered in Tuesday’s meeting included mental health and addictions, homelessness and the forest sector.
“I’m very excited about how we can take back some of the information we shared today,” Horgan said, adding the mayors also gave input on how better the province can make strategic investments to meet changing needs.
Horgan noted the focus on B.C.’s forestry sector needs to be on maximizing forests rather than shooting to get as much volume as possible out of the forest into mills or onto freighters to somewhere else.
“There are challenges in forestry, we acknowledge that, they are not new. I think it has resulted over decades from a drive to liquidate rather than build a road map that’s sustainable for communities and sustainable for forests,” Horgan said, adding he is very optimistic.
Mayor Walt Cobb said he was not made aware of, nor did he receive an invitation to the meeting with the Premier.
“I can only assume it was because we in Williams Lake have been somewhat fortunate in not having a permanent shutdown of any of our mills is the reason we were not included,” Cobb told the Tribune Wednesday.
Cobb said the slowdown has affected supporting industries like loggers and truckers, but so far they have not been included in any funding supports he is aware of.
“I did have a conference call with the federal minister of Natural Resources this morning with 16 different mayors from the north and discussed many of thesame issues and the call for assistance from the federal government.”