North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is asking community members to join her in calling on Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly to locate a government office for the new BC Economic Development Agency in our region.

 The creation of a new agency specifically for BC was announced in the 2020 fall economic statement and included in the 2021 federal budget. Quebec (CED), Ontario (FedDev Ontario), northern Ontario (FedNor), the North (CanNor), the Prairies (WED), and the Atlantic (ACOA) all have their own federal regional economic development agencies. Until now BC has been part of WED, based out of Alberta with a BC office located in Vancouver.

 In February, Blaney wrote to Minister Joly to pitch the idea stating “It makes sense that your department will want to target economic growth in rural and remote areas of the province because these are the places that need to break the long-suffering cycle of boom and bust resource economies. Having a

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

 Blaney added that North Island-Powell River is also perfectly aligned with the government’s blue economy strategy mandate: “We have an ocean economy. The conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon habitats is a high priority for all of our residents. We are highly concerned with the climate crisis. We are actively engaging in reconciliation projects with the First Nations in our area. And we are also suffering economically, in part because of the decisions of your government.”

 In June, Joly responded: “Beyond expressing your deep affinity for your region and its people, you raised important points about how the Government of Canada can help rural communities flourish… A recurring theme in discussions with communities across the province has been the importance of a new BC RDA working directly with rural communities and having a presence in them.”

  To drive her message home, Blaney is calling on residents of North Island-Powell River to send their own letters to Joly explaining why their community would be a great place to locate an office. Blaney is also encouraging constituents to make their pitch on social media tagging Minister Joly and using the hashtag #BestPlaceToWork.

 A webpage has been setup that includes a template letter and other information about the campaign at www.rachelblaney.ndp.ca/bestplacetowork

 “Those of us who live here know that there is no better place to work,” said Blaney. “I’m hoping that people will get involved in this campaign and take the opportunity to brag a little about their community, while also pushing the Minister to make this good choice for the government.”

Lucas Schuller

Constituency Assistant, Rachel Blaney, MP