With the Northwest on the verge of an economic boom, the NDP critic for local government came to the region to see what municipalities are doing to prepare and what assistance they may need.
“I have been following quite closely the challenges that have been going on here in Prince Rupert, as well as communities such as Terrace, Kitimat and Port Edward. I want to hear firsthand from those local government about what those challenges are, how they have been trying to mitigate those challenges and what they are planning for so I can help advocate for them,” said Coquitlan-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson.
“Right now I am looking for themes. I am going to three, possibly four communities, and there may be one-off concerns here or there but I am trying to get a sense of themes. I will likely pull out some things and identify what the common challenges are and see what we can do, along with my colleagues.”
During her visit to Prince Rupert, Robinson met with Mayor Jack Mussallem and city manager Robert Long and said she “got a good lesson and grounding” about just how big the projected growth on the North Coast could be.
“If all projects go through, what does that growth look like and how does a community like Prince Rupert prepare for that?,” she asked.
“I know not everything is signed off, but there is incredible potential for growth and that growth will have pros and cons. I want to identify where there are going to be challenges, particularly around housing, and making sure there is a plan in place and people are planning early enough to accommodate the growth that is going to come over the next few years.”
While just beginning meetings with municipal leaders, Robinson said one thing that she has heard is that municipalities can’t accommodate the growth that is to come without support from higher levels of government.
“Local governments need to have plans and that takes people, time and resources. You have to be able to pay those people to do planning and cost estimations and what I have been hearing from communities is that they need those resources. They need upfront dollars … they need to have resources available or the ability to generate resources,” she said.
“It’s of no value to receive millions of dollars after people arrive.”