The Strathcona Regional District board has set up a new Natural Resource Committee to help North Island communities make their voices heard.
The idea came to the board through chair Mark Baker, who gave a report saying that communities in the North Island have “struggled to resonate with policy makers at both the provincial and federal levels regarding the continual erosion of support for resources-based operations.
“Many municipalities have attempted to impress upon governments about the importance of forestry, aquaculture, mining, and other sectors continue to articulate yet their voices continue to go unheard,” he said.
Baker also said that if the creation of the committee were approved, it should also have representatives from the Regional District of Mt. Waddington.
However, director Robyn Mawhinney questioned whether the committee would be advocating for North Islanders’ access to using natural resources or “if this proposed committee would be a standing committee in support of natural resource extraction.
“There are changes on the horizon,” she said. “Natural resources are not what they once were. With fewer resources, our focus should be on gaining more employment through value-added processes, rather than concern for corporate agendas.”
Mawhinney’s concerns included whether this was the correct direction to take, suggesting that the region could use a stronger voice for housing, paramedics and health care, or transportation. She also suggested that First Nations groups have a seat at the table, saying she had “concerns that the optics appear colonial.”
Baker agreed about the inclusion of local First Nations, and made sure it was included in the motion to create the committee and invite others to the table.