I spent last week in Victoria, partly to participate in a Forestry Conference that I was asked to speak at, and partly to catch up with a number of Ministers and the Premier’s Office to advance our community’s needs and opportunities. Without question, due to our continued efforts to communicate proactively with the Province and the current provincial government’s openness to working with local governments, Quesnel is on the Provincial Government’s radar.
The previous week the Premier had called me to discuss forestry issues and to generally catch up on how we are doing as a community with our transition strategy and with all the emerging issues that all local governments are confronted with. He gave me a heads up that he would be announcing the Interior Forestry Review at the Council of Forest Industries conference the next day and wanted me to know that Quesnel’s Forestry Think Tank process fits well with the Province’s new initiative.
The fact that the Premier would take the time to call a Mayor to have an open and frank discussion about current issues is refreshing, to say the least; that he was also calling to ensure me, in advance, that a Provincial initiative would dovetail with a pre-existing local government initiative is a sign that the Province (and the Premier) is paying attention and are aware of what’s happening at the community level – again, a very refreshing approach from a “senior” level of government.
I followed up on my conversation with the Premier when I was in Victoria by meeting with a senior member of his staff and the Deputy Minister for Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). Again, both these senior government officials were well aware of the approach Quesnel is taking to address the future of our forests and forest industry, and we had a very good conversation about how our local process will be resourced in the future and tie into the Province’s Interior Review.
Last Friday, a meeting of FLNRORD provincial, regional and local staff, First Nations resource managers, industry foresters, and researchers was held in Quesnel to continue to design a rehabilitation strategy for our timber supply area that will not repeat past mistakes and will take into account a rapidly changing climate. This session was fully supported and facilitated by FLNRORD with the full blessing of the Province, reinforcing the strong partnership that has been formed between the City and the Province on this important initiative.
But, Quesnel’s Forestry initiative is not the only part of our transition strategy that is on the Province’s radar. When I was in Victoria I had a chance to meet with the Minister of Education about our School District’s submission for a new Junior School, with the Minister of Agriculture about our desire to continue to advance our agriculture innovation initiatives, and with the Minister of Transportation to ensure we are still tracking on our Interconnector project. All Ministers were alive to Quesnel’s initiatives and very supportive.
As a Council, we’ve made a deliberate choice to advance opportunities and solutions to senior levels of government rather than problems. We’ve developed our economic transition strategy www.quesnel.ca/transition and actively support other agencies when they advance their plans to the Province too (like the School District’s new school proposal and Northern Health’s addition to GR Baker Hospital).
It’s heartening to have a Provincial Government in Victoria that is a willing partner when we approach them with our strategies and ideas, and it’s nice to know we are definitely on their radar. The Quesnel economy and residents will be very well served by this productive relationship.