Betty Hinton MP Column
It's satisfying to know Ottawa had no choice but to listen when it came to the wishes of the people of this riding. My thanks to everyone who's backed me up in trying to get timely action (in Ottawa) on the funding for those impacted by the forest fires, BSE and softwood lumber.
A letter from Claudette Bradshaw, Minister of Labour and minister responsible for the Homelessness projects, confirms that Kamloops Salvation Army received $50,000 under SCPI (Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative). The money used to assist those rendered homeless as a result of the fire.
It was also gratifying to receive word last week that Ottawa paid the provincial government some direct funding to cover firefighters wages and related costs. I was pleased to see the minister react so quickly to our requests. The first federal installment of aid to B.C. - $100 million - was welcome news. It is the Province's mandate to disperse the funds. Meeting immediate needs of families is, in my opinion, paramount.
The second priority is of course long-term viability for the North Thompson. The people of our area pulled together to clothe and feed the fire victims. This second stage, rebuilding, will require as much, if not more, cooperation from all levels of government, the residents and private enterprise. It's important to listen to the people because only a project accepted by the people themselves will have a chance of success.
There are numerous ideas being put forth. Those I submitted to federal ministers in August, were the result of listening to affected residents. Those submissions were supported in writing by 16 regional district directors, four mayors and the chairman of the regional district, but remain unanswered. This week others will be submitted in Ottawa by regional district, and I continue to hear more ideas daily from residents. What we need now are answers.
"Kitchen table" discussions are where start. It will take entrepreneurship to make ideas work. Government is there to serve the people, to ensure equal opportunity, and assist those needing a "hand up." I do not believe government should, or could, operate a business. I've seen too much evidence to the contrary. Building infrastructure is another task that all levels of government need to be involved in but that is not, in my mind, disaster-relief work
Some of the ways our region can attract the necessary private dollars and expertise is through local tax incentives, waiving of permits, assistance in finding appropriate land and getting quick re-zoning. The infrastructure to do this is all in place. We don't need to hire anyone to do this.
Getting the word out to businesses, worldwide, is in part looked after by Venture Kamloops, but residents have a role to play. That was the reason behind the Ambassador Program started by my office to get individual and business travelers promoting the region. While I'm in Ottawa working, staff are involved with Kamloops Marketing Alliance. Many groups including the city, chamber, private businesses, etc are working hard to coordinate all efforts at marketing the region. Hopefully, by spring we'll see some fruits of their efforts.
Some days I'm frustrated because I have to be in Ottawa instead of in the riding, rolling up my sleeves and being hands-on, but I realize that you sent me to Ottawa to represent your needs and wishes in this arena - and that I have to continue to speak out in the House, in the corridors, and at every function where I meet my colleagues from all parties, on the needs of the people of my riding. I do this on a daily basis. The conversations often pay dividends. It will be my pleasure in the near future to host MPs from all parties to our riding. We will jointly present a cheque donated by individual members of parliament to fire victims in our area. Some things are above politics and this All Party gift is a perfect example.
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