Elected officials in Northeast B.C. are considering hiring a lobbyist, developing new communications strategies and making ad buys in Lower Mainland newspapers in a bid to get a northern voice into debates over natural resource extraction.
At a Jan. 12 meeting, Peace River Regional District board members opted to move forward with a plan for communicating “Northern initiatives” to the rest of B.C.
According to a report, the aim is to “get the message out and educate the rest of the province on the responsible extraction of resources.”
Tumbler Ridge Mayor Don McPherson brought up the issue after last year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting, where several mayors and councillors from the region held a pro-natural resources rally on the steps of the B.C. legislature.
“The reason we were there is we had mayors of Victoria and Vancouver talking down on natural gas, and we were showing how united we can be in promoting this,” he said.
According to the report, the hope is to “balance information being put forward by mayors from some of the southern cities in the province.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan in particular have both been outspoken opponents of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, while Vancouver has announced a plan to phase out natural gas use in new buildings.
The report suggests the region step up its production of media releases, buy advertising in the Lower Mainland (the report suggests a billboard in downtown Vancouver or “paid articles in magazines or news articles in the Vancouver Sun or the Province”), as well as hiring a professional lobbyist for use on a case-by-case basis.
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said the region needs to have “several different tools in our tool boxes” when it comes to advocating for services and economic development in the northeast.
The board is expected to decide on the specifics of the plan in February.