MP hosts economic development forum

Local MP, Nathan Cullen, held a public brain-storming session on Saturday with Prince Rupert residents to get an idea on what programs they would like to see funded to improve the city and the northern BC region.

Local MP, Nathan Cullen, held a public brain-storming session on Saturday with Prince Rupert residents to get an idea on what programs they would like to see funded to improve the city and the northern BC region.

The meeting in Prince Rupert is the third of many stops in Cullen’s third annual riding-wide economic tour, where he will be gathering ideas from other communities from across the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding.

The ideas of the most promising project for both Prince Rupert and the region will be turned into a list of 150 potential projects for the federal government to fund, and will be given to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty before his department draws up the 2011 budget.

After that they will be given to other federal ministers, municipal governments and released

publicly.

Cullen believes talking about individual projects people want to happen will be more effective than simply setting lofty long-term goals.

“This is a more empowering conversation that doesn’t say, ‘well, here’s our economic plan for the future. All right everybody, let’s all cross our fingers together and if we all do that it’s going work out.’ As opposed to, ‘well, this is what we’ve got, this what we want to build on, this is what we need more of,” says Cullen.

After explaining what he was looking for, the people at the meeting were split up into four smaller discussion groups to identify projects that would benefit Prince Rupert and the region immediately and in the long-run. The Rupertites came up with a wide variety of ways to boost the economy.

Some of the most common suggestions involved increasing the ports infrastructure and doing something with the Watson Island facility.

Other suggestions were more unique. One group said that Rupert should dedicate itself to becoming a model for green towns, which they believed, could help attract tourists and new people to live in the city. Another said that Prince Rupert should take advantage of the amount of timber that travels through it by manufacturing it into things like prefabricated housing, and then selling

that.

Increased shellfish aquaculture was another suggestion. And one group suggested that Prince Rupert needed a complete re-branding with more focus on aboriginal culture and local cuisine in order to attract more tourism after the cruise ships stop.

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