Elected representatives are joining forces with the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition. They claim the federal government has not allocated all the funds promised for the pine beetle response.
After a massive beetle attack wiped out 50% of BC commercial Lodgepole pine, the Conservative government made a commitment to provide assistance to north central communities ravaged by the bug. Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP, Nathan Cullen, is calling on Ottawa to fulfill its decade-old promise. “It was meant to be over just a few years and it was up to almost a Billion dollars. It all got whittled down, but we figure a little less than 20% of it actually went out the door. By some accounts even less.”
Chair of the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, Bill Miller, estimates only about $250 million dollars was transferred to BC. He says the impacts of the infestation have been devastating. “Our predictions are in the neighbourhood of 12,000 direct jobs could be impacted in our region in the next 3-4 years.”
Conservative Cariboo-Prince George MP, Todd Doherty, and NDP Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP, Nathan Cullen, say they are putting party politics aside in the fight for a common goal.
OBAC says that local governments have a number of project proposals aimed at rebuilding beetle-affected communities. “Our communities are understanding that we need to be prepared for next Mill closure, that we need to be prepared for the next downturn,” says Miller. “So certainly now is the time.”