Friday, January 23, 2009

Looking to the economic future in Northern BC

Prince George has been the host of a two day seminar in economics, as the Premier, assorted mayors and municipal and provincial officials and industry representatives gathered to examine the economic landscape to come for the northern reaches of the province.

Among the Prince Rupert representatives at the economic summit are Mayor Jack Mussallem and Port of Prince Rupert CEO Don Krusel.

From the electrification of the Highway 37 corridor, to expansion of the Fairview Port and the continuing troubles of the forestry, northern stakeholders have been debating it all, seeking out a blue print for economic opportunities to come in the future.

The Daily News featured the talks as their front page item in Thursday's paper and a number of Prince George websites have been following the progress of the talks over the last two days. The Premier discussed the talks during a session from 11 to 11:30 with CNKW's Bill Good (podcast or audio vault sessions available here) his appearance followed an hour of calls from 10 to 11, on Good's open lines, including a contribution from Opposition leader Carole James which questioned the government's handling of the economy over the last few years.

To get an idea of what has been discussed and the impact of the discussions on the north, click on the various links below for more details.

Opinion 250-- Premier Closes Summit
Opinion 250-- Premier Opens Summit

Prince George summit is a chance to consider the region's potential
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Page one

Mayor Jack Mussallem is trucking his way to Prince George for the Be Liberal's Northern Economic Summit.

The summit is meant to be an open forum about all sorts of different economic concerns for the northern half of the province, an event that Mussallem expects will be of interest to a lot of municipal leaders.

"The gist of it is that most mayors across northern British Columbia would attend," said Mussallem.

The two-day event, which begins today, brings not only municipal leaders and provincial representatives to the table but also key industrial players.

Mussallem said the focus of the summit is on global economics and B.C.'s place within that context.

The Pacific Gateway and transportation are going to be front-and-centre for Mussallem, but he added that the municipality will also have an interest in planning for the mining industry and the northern energy core and transmission lines that will be constructed up highway 37, towards Galore Creek.

“All those things are within our catchments area," said Mussallem.

Infrastructure spending promises could also playa large role at the conference, which Mussallem said Prince Rupert is "always looking for help with", but the focus was looking for economic opportunities. .

"Not only do we want to sustain ourselves, but grow our economy and so if there is something the government has a lead on that we can grab hold of ... we're pursuing that," he said.

Matching grants are an important item as well. Mussallem mentioned last week that his council is looking at federal grant programs to help pay for city projects. Because the city runs a tight budget, and some grant programs the city is interested in require equal dollars from the city, Mussallem said that process would be greatly helped by provincial kick-ins to get the ball rolling. But it also means more investment in the port.

"We're aware a lot of Prince Rupert's growth is tied to the enhancement of port facilities and this summit is about product and opportunities in the north and if some of those are inclined to be shipped overseas from the province, we want to be able to take advantage of that," said Mussallem.

No comments: