Donna Barnett (l) with Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon after being sworn in as Minister of State for Rural Economic Development on October 21.

Donna Barnett (l) with Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon after being sworn in as Minister of State for Rural Economic Development on October 21.

Rural voice is now stronger in Victoria with new Rural Economic Development portfolio

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett is now a Minister of State, giving rural communities an advocate at the cabinet table.

Rural B.C. will have a stronger presence in Victoria with the creation of a Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, a new portfolio under the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO). The announcement was made by Premier Christy Clark on October 21.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was sworn in as the new Minister of State the same day. The appointment is an expansion of the role that Barnett, who is in her second term as an MLA, already plays in Victoria, says a spokesperson for the premier’s office. Barnett was parliamentary secretary to FLNRO minister Steve Thompson for more than two years, and has a long association with rural issues.

“I’ve always worked hard for rural B.C.,” she told The Journal. “Now I’ll be able to work at the cabinet table and have more independent discretion and a louder voice.

“Rural communities are the economic driver of the province. The biggest issue is getting people all over B.C. to understand that without rural resources, our economy is in trouble. Rural communities have always been the economic engine of the province, and we have to continue to support our resource sector.”

The new portfolio is intended to address the challenges facing rural B.C. A government spokesperson says that while the province is doing very well overall, rural communities are facing some real challenges. “If you’re in a forestry or mining town, you know that the global resource economy is weak, and that global appetite for our products is down. The new portfolio shows a sensitivity to the challenge B.C. is facing.”

Cache Creek mayor John Ranta is pleased with the appointment. “Good for her. She has always been an important advocate for rural communities.”

Ranta adds that he has long realized that the sustainability of rural communities is very important. “If they continue to decline in population, where will people who work in the resource sector live? People in Vancouver think they drive the economy of the province, but in my view rural communities drive the economy.

“It’s important for the sustainability of urban centres to have a strong rural economy. Without the rest of the province, Vancouver would not be sustainable.”

“We all have to work together,” says Barnett. “And now I’ll be able to work with my rural colleagues at even greater length.”

 

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
Drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250-hectare wildfire in B.C.

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

Most Read