Thursday, December 03, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Concerned Rupertites meet to learn more about grade configuration and school closures, Local residents talk over economics with Conservative MP, and Smithers RCMP release more details on last weeks police involved shooting, some of the items of note for Wednesday.
Daily News, Front page, headline story
LOCALS DISCUSS ECONOMICS WITH CONSERVATIVE MP-- Saturday's economic round table is detailed, the gathering brought 16 locals together at City Hall to discuss a number of issues from trade to transportation and the differences between urban and rural economies.

BC Ferries plans for a Vancouver to Prince Rupert ferry service were the topic of discussion at a public meeting on Monday at the Crest Hotel. Local residents were not quite sold on the idea of the planned sailings of every two weeks and the impact on the local economy that could come with the reduction in other sailings required to implement the plan.

What has turned into an unofficial garbage dump along Wantage road is causing concern among local residents who are worried about the impact that the volume of discarded household items and garbage is having on the environment along Hays Creek. A bit of background on the lack of interest in our surroundings is outlined in the Wednesday edition.

The Daily News also was in receipt of a letter from the Prince Rupert Secondary School teachers addressed to the School District 52 trustees. As the Northern View did on Tuesday night on its website, the Daily printed the item on its editorial page on Wednesday.

High School basketball and the success of the Prince Rupert Rampage on the ice and at the box office is chronicled in the paper.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for December 2nd)

The Northern View
Prince Rupert School District holds second hearing on closure and grade configuration -- Our first view of the second meeting of consultation on configuration and potential school closures is provided by the Northern View, as the local weekly is quick to its website with an outline of the events of Wednesday nights meeting at Charles Hays Secondary. (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Charges Laid Against Man Shot by Smithers Police -- Charges are entered stemming from last weeks police involved shooting in Smithers, as Twenty-five-year-old Cole Christopher Foos originally from California will appear in court on charges of possession of stolen property and dangerous driving. Foos was shot by an RCMP officer on Saturday when he reportedly began to drive away dragging the officer with him along the road. (see article here)

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
No items for Tuesday were updated on the CBC Daybreak website

Daily News, Front page, headline story
Locals discuss economics with Conservative MP
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

At an economic roundtable with Weston, locals were encouraged to recognize that the North Coast is still a good place to invest.

“This is a good community,” John Weston, Conservative MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Seat to Sky Country, said. “You have transportation infrastructure, it’s friendly and you have a low crime rate.”

Looking around the table he added, “Over the years I’ve seen how much change can be done by a small group of people.”

Weston was in Prince Rupert to announce $3 million worth of funding for projects at the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Because Conservative MP visits are rare to this part of the country, economic development officer Nellie Cheng seized the opportunity to host a roundtable in the afternoon at City Hall.

Sixteen people attended and over the ninety minutes a discussion centered around the Asian market, urban versus rural economies and relationship with government. In this two-part article the Daily News recaps the discussion.

Part I - The Asian market: Weston, an international lawyer, spent 10 years living in Taiwan where he opened western law offices in various cities and helped open Canada’s diplomatic office there.

“It was during a time when things changed so quickly,” Weston said. “Since Ping’s opening of China to more economic reforms in 1979, China has experienced ten percent growth year after year. That’s unparalleled in history.”

According to Weston, there are 250,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong and 30,000 in Taiwan. Having those people on the ground, he said, is crucial to developing relationships between Asia and Canada.

Metlakatla Development Corporation’s economic development officer Cory Stephens agreed.
In order to pursue the Asian market he said he needs to know what the market wants and what it has to offer.

“We need on-the-ground knowledge. If I have a list of things Asian-based markets want then I can build an economic strategy. Our region has traditionally based our economy on the extraction of halibut and salmon. Now I need to look at things like jellyfish or sea cucumbers to find out what the Chinese market wants. A usable menu, for a shortage of words.”

Weston said he had no one answer to give, but encouraged Stephens to get a team together.

“I recall the Nisga’a were finding a market for mushrooms in China. Have you thought about gooey-ducks? It’s that classic business school kind of question.”

Newly re-elected Lax Kw’Alaams Chief Councillor Gary Reece said his community wants to see local development, but realizes it needs to tap into the Asian market as well.

“We own a TFL license, and we’re selling our logs to China to survive. We want to see local sawmills and delve right into Prince Rupert, but for now we’re selling all around,” Reece said, adding that his band is opening up an office in Bejing.

Responding, Weston told Reece, “Your representatives may be the expert Canadians, representing Aboriginal communities. That puts you ahead of others.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting China this week for the first time and many have criticized him for not visiting there up until now, but Weston said he thinks the process leading up to the visit has been about relationship building.

“I like the fact that it’s been incremental, robust, healthy and principled around governance issues and human rights,” Weston explained.

“There have been 16 ministers visit China. Part of our strategy has been around our Asia Pacific Gateway and it is important Prince Rupert is part of it.”

Referring to the Olympics and the role it will play in the “fragile signs of recovery” of the world economy, Weston said when the world watches the Olympics some of those watching could be potential investors.

But going beyond China is important, Weston noted. “A global strategy that focuses only on China and not India and Russia is not a good one.”

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