Matching opportunity and values key to northwest economy

SMITHERS

– Matching economic opportunity with key northwest values is critical to building a healthy region in which people can live and work harmoniously, a think tank hosted by Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen found on the weekend.

“It is tremendously encouraging that over 25 community leaders from across the northwest all agreed on the need to be proactive about taking our economic future into our own hands, in a way that respects the strong social and environmental values of the people who live here,” Cullen said.

“Right across the board, the tone of the weekend was enthusiastic, hopeful and forward-looking,” Cullen noted of the Renewal Northwest meeting which assembled leaders from government, industry, First Nations, conservation and other organizations to explore community-supported ways to renew the resource-based economies of the region. 

“We agreed that developing a regional filter based on northwest social and environmental values could help us to move good development projects forward, and screen out those that most negatively impact our communities and landscapes,” explained Smithers-based Nikki Skuce of ForestEthics.

“Being able to tell potential developers up front what communities will and won’t support is a powerful way for us to take a positive role in our own long-term economic sustainability,” Skuce noted.

“The status quo is simply not creating the sustainable economic opportunities we need,” echoed participant Tim Tchida of Summit Reforestation.  “Instead of being reactive, participants really saw the need for us to have a proactive voice in shaping our own economic, social and environmental future.”

“The question on all our minds is how do we protect social, cultural and environmental values in the face of global demand for our land and resources,” said David de Wit, Natural Resources Manager for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.

Terrace councillor Brad Pollard noted that despite the diversity of participants at the think tank weekend, “a lot of common ground emerged.  We have many similarities across the northwest, across sectors, and a strengthening regional identity.”

The next steps in the Renewal Northwest process include town-hall meetings and a larger regional forum on the future of the northwest economy.

- 30 –

Media calls: Shelley Browne (250) 877-4142; nathan.cullen.c1@parl.gc.ca