This week I offer up a tip of my proverbial hat to Coun. Barry Cunningham for standing up in a room full of elected officials from across the province and clearly articulating the realities of life in northern British Columbia.
During a debate around increasing the carbon tax, an idea that was ultimately defeated by less than three per cent of the vote, Cunningham was quoted as saying:
“If you live up north, everything is trucked up there … This would add a lot to all our food and everything else that’s trucked up.”
That right there illustrates a fundamental difference between people living in the southern portion of the province and those of us who prefer the quieter life here on the North Coast — it costs more money to get anything to or from the region than those living in southern B.C.
While Cunningham focused in on food and goods, which need to be trucked all the way down Highway 16 to arrive at their final destination regardless of their starting point, it is an argument that could easily be made for any number of aspects of life.
Need specialized medical treatment in a hurry? It’s not as simple as jumping in a car and driving a few hours to Vancouver or a major centre, it involves costly flights or, at minimum, a few hundred dollars in hotel bills.
And gas itself, despite not having a TransLink tax added to it, is more expensive in the Northwest than it is in the Lower Mainland. Figure that one out…
Often times people in the more urban areas of the province take things for granted and get the attention of the provincial government much faster based simply on the number of voters that live in the region. For example, while getting affordable housing in Prince Rupert is like pulling teeth, the government just spent $550,000 to help run a shelter in Maple Ridge through the winter.
Coun. Cunningham speaking up at UBCM is a reminder that British Columbia extends north of Kamloops — the more the government and urban B.C. can be reminded of that, the better.