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North Island-Powell River MP requests satellite office for economic development

Riding a good location for agency, says Rachel Blaney
North Island Powell River MP Rachel Blaney

MP Rachel Blaney has asked federal minister of economic development Mélanie Joly to establish an office of the new economic development agency for BC in her North Island-Powell River riding.

According to a media release from Blaney, the new regional economic development agency for BC was announced in the federal government’s fall economic update, and would better serve the specific realities of BC, separate from Western Economic Diversification Canada, which includes the prairie provinces. Details of the new agency have yet to be announced, but Joly has been consulting with British Columbians on what it should look like, stated Blaney.

In her letter to the minister, Blaney outlined recent economic challenges in her region due to “a combination of events largely outside of our control,” including the 10-month forestry strike, Powell River mill curtailment, sports fishing restrictions, salmon farm closures, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blaney pointed to the minister’s mandate to work with fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan to develop a blue economy strategy to grow the ocean economy and create good jobs and opportunities for coastal communities while advancing reconciliation and conservation objectives, stating: “there is no region more fitting of this mandate than the one I represent.”

Blaney cited her recent private members motion M-53: principles of a sustainable and equitable future, stating that “Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19 must include a multi-lens approach on support for rural and remote regions.”

Blaney requested in her letter to Joly to consider North Island-Powell River for a branch location of the new regional economic development agency for BC.

“Having a government office in one of our communities would allow your department to experience firsthand the challenges of connectivity and transportation in rural and remote regions,”stated Blaney, “which can only lead to better local economic outcomes for all who are to be served by this agency.”