Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad will be running again, as some other prominent Liberals have been announcing their decisions not to run again.
“My thought is, there’s some things that I want to get accomplished in the riding,” said Rustad.
In particular, he’s hoping to continue to work towards a new hospital in Fort St. James and highway upgrades in the area as well as continued work on the timber supply issues which will be facing area mills.
As the chair of the Special Committee on Timber Supply which recently released a report outlining some recommendations to help tackle the upcoming reductions in timber supply, Rustad has been involved in the issue, but knows there is more work to be done.
“I would like to play a role in trying to help shape that and make sure that it’s going to be helpful for the communities and for companies,” he said.
While no NDP candidate has yet been chosen for the Nechako Lakes riding, nearby Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson gave his perspective on the Liberal record in the northwest.
While he celebrated the extensive work done by the timber supply committee in creating their report and recommendations, he said their findings pointed to serious shortcomings in Liberal forestry management.
“I think that despite this sector being so important to the north, the forestry file has largely been ignored by the Liberals over the last 10 years,” said Donaldson, who also referred to the Auditor General’s report indicating inadequacies in plans, inventory data and reforestation.
The lack of inventory data which is a major factor in the decision whether or not to rebuild the mill in Burns Lake indicates significant fall-down in management practices according to Donaldson.
“This is a basic data necessity for forestry planning to be done properly,” he said.
He is also disappointed in what he sees as a lack of action on using wood waste for alternative purposes, specifically bioenergy.
“Overall, I think it’s a pretty dismal record for such an important component of the regional economy,” said Donaldson.
As for health care and other infrastructure in the region, Donaldson said health care needs to be looked at for its importance in the economy as well, and because non-urban areas contribute over 70 per cent of new revenue streams to the province, there should be better funding for these areas.
“Instead of having to beg for infrastructure dollars … we should be in northern rural areas more in a position to say: We’re contributing to the economy … we want our fair share back,” said Donaldson.