As 2013 begins, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald sat down to talk about the future of Golden, an upcoming election, and what to look forward to in a new year.
“It has been a difficult couple of years for Golden and that is not surprising with what has happened in the world. We are not immune from what is happening,” Macdonald said. “The opportunities here are very strong and always have been. We do know that with our economy based on resources that there are ups and downs.”
Macdonald said that forestry prices look to be strengthening and cheaper forms of wood, which has been popular over the last few years, is starting to run out.
“Companies are moving back into areas with green wood and we have been fortunate here due to the combination of the forest type and a good job was done getting on the beetle impact areas.”
Macdonald also pointed to other opportunities that he felt would help the region.
“There is going to be the big highway project. We know there is another smaller highway project coming that will be useful. At some point, which will be triggered by the federal government, they are going to put forward their part of the project and we will be looking at a number of years of activity on the Kicking Horse Pass.”
He also said that the weather has been helping out tourism in the area.
“It looks like it is another good snow year at Kicking Horse, which is good for tourism. It will be there and strengthen as well,” he said.
Macdonald said that even though CP Rail is reshuffling, the coal that goes through Golden will still need to be moved and support the area.
The MLA once again reminded people of the problems he feels the HST has caused for the province as a whole.
“The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) has been a problem that compounded what happened in North America. The HST was a disaster coming in and it has been a prolonged disaster going out.”
Macdonald also spoke about the news that the company Tercon had filed for bankruptcy protection, and how it effects both the work on the highway and local businesses.
“It came to us very quickly. There is no question that what is owed to local businesses is a real worry. That concern has been shared with us. The process is in place that will play itself out,” he said. “We want to make sure the safety issues are looked after and local businesses are treated fairly.”
He was also critical of how much money he said the BC Liberals are spending on ad campaigns.
“The $15 million in ad campaigns, and the inaccuracies in what is being claimed there are huge. It is publicly funded propaganda for the BC Liberals, which is highly questionable and wouldn’t happen in other jurisdictions. Campaigning is not the same as governing. It is just a series of promises when what we need is action on a number of issues.”
Macdonald said the fiscal state of the province is a serious problem which needs to be dealt with.
“There are still education issues which need to be sorted out. There is no question that there are forestry issues, when looking at the land. We don’t really have the work that government should be doing to look after the land properly. We have fiscal challenges, with not only the state of the province, but also some of our major crowns have been bled dry,” he said.
Macdonald said he thinks what the BC Liberals are doing is not credible when they are making cuts in areas such as forestry, while at the same time selling off crown property.
“They are selling property and not telling us what the properties are. It is possible they will book it as $700 million in sold properties, without even knowing what properties,” he said.
Macdonald also spoke about issues surrounding the education system in smaller areas like Golden and Nicholson.
“What you saw initially with the BC Liberals was a change in the funding formula that basically made any school that is under 1,000 students incredibly difficult to operate. You move to a conscious program of centralization which they have done everywhere in rural B.C.”
Macdonald went on to explain that the BC Liberals are not a government that is comitted to public education in the province.
“This is what has happened and what will continue to happen unless a government comes in with some commitment to providing services to rural B.C. The other problem is the BC Liberals are not committed to public education. We have seen a growth with money put into private institutions.We have seen continuous turmoil in the public eduation system. It is just not their thing.”
Macdonald said what is needed in the area are resources for public education while making sure the support is their for all students, including special needs and gifted students.
“I think the best investment you can make is in children’s education and skills training.”