MPs, Local Government Rep Call on Feds to Fulfill Funding Pledge
Prince George, B.C. – It’s not often the NDP and Conservative Party come together on an issue, but it was on full display this afternoon at the Ramada Hotel in Prince George.
Both Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen and Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Todd Doherty, along with Omineca Beetle Action Coalition (OBAC) chair Bill Miller called on the federal government to release $680,000 the region was promised to assist communities ravaged by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
Cullen said less than $60,000 of the $740,000 the federal government committed between 2007 and 2010 has been allocated and it’s time to cough it up.
“We’re at the tail end of the largest insect infestation in North America that has wiped out 50% of BC commercial lodgepole pine, cost thousands of forestry jobs, and will soon reduce annual allowable cuts by millions of cubic metres. The devastating economic, public safety and social aftermath of the 10-year beetle plague is now in full swing and our communities need the federal help promised.”
Miller said that local governments have several solid project proposals aimed at rebuilding beetle-affected communities that could be activated soon after Ottawa allots the funds.
“We’ve got ideas on the table ranging from investment in silviculture innovations and adaptations to climate change, increased wildfire mitigation and agriculture support and research, to name just a few.”
Doherty acknowledged it’s not often you see opposing MPs championing the same issue but noted we’re facing “some uncertain times.”
“And I think it sends a strong message to those that are listening and following this that this goes beyond party lines and we’re here talking to you. We want to raise the flag so people know we are facing some uncertain times and we need to make sure that we are standing loud and standing proud and raising the voices of our ridings.”
“It’s time for Ottawa to get out of its bubble, to understand that this is the backbone of the Canadian economy,” added Cullen. “It’s not yoga pants and lattes, it’s about resources and the effective use of our resources that forms the central core of the Canadian economy. So, the opportunity to support our towns is now.”