Summer has arrived and with it, a bit of a slow down in the political frenzy. But serious issues don’t disappear with the hot weather and the school holidays.
The announcement of the closure of the Catalyst kraft mill in Campbell River has shocked the community. More than 400 jobs will go, and that inevitably will have a knock on effect in the city.
The announcement of the closure can be traced directly back to the government’s failed forestry policy. TimberWest had a Tree Farm Licence which used to be tied to its local mill. But the government allowed those ties to be severed which meant TimberWest could close its sawmill in Campbell River.
If the closure of that mill was not bad enough, it had a direct effect on the neighbouring pulp mill which used the sawdust produced for its kraft production. No sawdust, no production, no jobs.
I’ve challenged the newly appointed Minister of Forests, Pat Bell, to show some leadership on this issue. It is a sad irony that the north island which was built on forestry as well as fishing has lost nearly all its mills.
It seems as if the government is alone in not realising the forest industry is in crisis. We need to be visionary – to change the current tenure system, to ensure that our forests benefit our communities, to commit to value added production in forest-based communities.
There’s also continued uncertainty about the future of health care across the north island. It is outrageous that the emergency rooms in Port Hardy and Port McNeill are open only on alternate days. The neglect is compounded by the continued stubbornness to deal with long term care in the “real” north island. On both issues, I am happy to support the community, which is taking a strong position with the Minister of Health and the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
Meanwhile the question mark still hangs over the hospital in Campbell River. I continue to advocate the best solution is investing in two hospitals – the Campbell River hospital and the Comox Valley’s hospital. Both communities need their own hospital service.
As summer proceeds, people are increasingly worried about rising costs. Ferry users are rightly extremely concerned about the surcharges due to be imposed which will push fares up by as much as 20 percent. I joined other MLAs who represent ferry dependent communities, calling for the minister of Transportation to put a freeze on the fares. But as long as BC Ferries is allowed to try to make a profit from what is rightly a highway we will have to continue to fight the government.
And of course many people are worried about the cost of fuel, which the big oil companies have pushed to new levels. That rise has to be distinguished from the 2.4 cent/litre Carbon Tax. As I said in my last MLA report, I support a carbon tax; we have all got to take responsibility for our carbon footprint. A regressive, flat tax is not the only way of trying to deal with emissions, it must be part of a package of environmental measures. A carbon tax is a small first step; it won’t work on its own nor will it work if it is only on the backs of consumers. Big polluters have to pay, and caps on emissions, with stringent targets, must be introduced.
The NDP’s environment framework can be found at: www.realclimateaction.ca
. And I am also proud to promote the NDP’s vision for strong environmental and resilient community vision outlined in the policy document Sustainable BC.
The summer sees many events around the constituency: this year in addition to the annual festivities in our communities, the signing of the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ treaty, in Kyuquot, is a significant celebration.
While I am trying to visit many of the north island communities during the weeks the Legislature is not sitting I can always be contacted by email at claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca or by phone: in Campbell River on 250 287 5100 or toll free on 1 866 387 5100.