Betty Hinton, MP Masthead
Member of Parliament for Kamloops Thompson Cariboo
[Columns]
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Betty Hinton MP Column

September 22, 2003

It has been quite a summer for all of us. In the midst of disaster, I meet, and saw the best in people from all areas of the riding, especially those from Barriere, McLure, Louis Creek, Heffley, Sun Peaks and Pritchard, while volunteering at the evacuation centre in Kamloops.

After listening to people from the area, talking to business people and local politicians I formulated a number of grassroots pilot projects to federal ministers. I am sorry to say to date I have had no responses. I am determined to make federal ministries aware of the needs of the people in this area. I have spoken once in the House, asking what the hold-up is and I intend to continue with specific questions about what the federal Liberals are going to do for the people other than come here for photo-ops.

I have shared this information with MLAs, TNRD directors and regional Task Force. I have invited the TNRD Chairman to come to Ottawa when I get a face-to-face meeting with the ministers making the decisions about funds for those affected by the forest fires, BSE, and softwood lumber tariffs. I'd like you to know who I wrote to and what I have asked of their ministry. Together hopefully we can get them to honour some of these concerns.

Hon. Robert Nault, Indian Affairs: To consider the Whispering Pines Indian Band's proposal to ultimately build a bridge across the river linking Westsyde Road and Highway 5 North. During the disaster this bridge would have given burned-out residents and those threatened some feeling of comfort.

Hon. Sheila Copps, Heritage: Consider hosting an Olympic event at Sun Peaks Resort. Look at various art mediums to commemorate or historically record this summer of forest fires. These projects could range from saving historical data to human interest documentary of the spirit of the Valley.

Hon. John McCallum, National Defense and in charge of Emergency Fund: I asked the minister to ensure the people at the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness understand the drastic actions necessary to return this area to its natural beauty and once again become a viable member of B.C.'s economic team. I stressed in my letter the need for action now, not months or years from now.

Hon. Stephen Owen, Western Diversification: Our region be the site of a plant to dispose of waste that slaughterhouses are required to dispose of in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Another idea was that WD invest $5 million to re-image the region. I believe the money should go to a non-partisan group of business people who are professionals and willing to cost-share a massive campaign to get both developers and tourists interested again. I also took the opportunity to say we need some of the $55 million in softwood lumber funding in this region.

Hon. Jane Stewart, HRDC: I asked for a "disaster" exemption policy to allow HRDC to pay victims for clearing the land and re-building fences on their property. Re-training opportunities for people displaced from the rural landscape to the urban centre.

Hon. Elinor Caplan, CCRA: An exemption of custom costs for Kamloops Airport to aid in drawing tourists back to the area. A tax incentive for those donating funds to relief funds.

Hon. David Anderson, Environment: Re-seeding of hillsides for cattle grazing.. To look at a pilot project, perhaps windmills, to take advantage of new environmental power sources

Canada Mortgage and Housing: Suggested they tailor their programs to assist people with low-cost mortgaging and in obtaining affordable insurance.

I would be more than happy to put forward any other ideas that come out of the TNRD Task Force or that any citizens' group puts forward. Whatever it takes, we must continue to push the federal Liberals to take our Interior communities seriously when we say we need help, and we need it now.


 

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