Flavio NienowLakes District News
The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development has recently informed the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) that it may consider adding a new area to the RDBN boundaries.
The new area is located directly north of the RDBN and is currently under provincial jurisdiction. Therefore the area does not belong to any regional district.
The discussion about regional district boundaries started when a neighbouring regional district – the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) – made a request to the provincial government to expand its boundaries.
The RDKS wants to expand its northwest and northeast boundaries to encompass two areas of the Stikine region that are currently under provincial jurisdiction. This proposal would isolate a portion of the Stikine region – being referred to as the “orphaned area”- which is the area that the ministry is considering adding to the RDBN.
Some directors pointed out that there might be huge economic opportunities in the orphaned area, especially forestry. Furthermore, Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen said the RDBN should be asking the province not only for the orphaned area, but also for one of the areas that the RDKS has requested.
“I’m surprised that this [proposal by the RDKS] has come so far before it comes back to us,” said Thiessen. “This could have huge implications for our region in the future.”
The ministry has not asked for the RDBN’s opinion regarding the potential expansion of its boundaries yet. So far the ministry has simply made a request that the RDBN undertake a study – which includes an inventory of the land use – in the orphaned area.
Thiessen suggested that the RDBN take a stronger approach – not simply asking for more information on the study requested by the ministry, but also asking to be part of negotiations with the province.
“We need to come back really strong to the province, saying this is part of our economic future,” said Thiessen.
The board of directors defeated a motion to consult with government on the scope of the study that was requested by the ministry. Instead, the board decided to take a stronger approach, carrying a motion to engage in negotiations with the province to expand the RDBN boundaries.
The board will ask the province to include in the RDBN boundaries not only the orphaned area, but also the northeastern part of the region that was requested by the RDKS.