Towns want job erosion to stop

John Les, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, and Director of Outreach, Pamela Martin were in Ashcroft last week to talk jobs.

Ashcroft Terminal has won over another politician.

“Ashcroft Terminal has all the makings of a large scale employer for the local community,” said John Les after touring the grounds last week. “It’s been a real eye opener for me.”

John Les, Chilliwack MLA and Parliementary Secretary to the Premier, was in Ashcroft on Nov.8 as part of a “boots on the ground” road trip with  Pamela Martin, Premier Christy Clark’s Director of Outreach, and staff. They had been in Lillooet earlier in the day and were heading for Logan Lake after leaving Ashcroft.

“We’re finding out what the issues are that people want the Premier to know about,” Martin told a gathering of local leaders after the AT tour.

“It’s all about job creation and investment,” added Les.

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta talked about the erosion of rural jobs to the bigger centres and asked why “call centre”-type jobs couldn’t be spread around to communities outside Victoria.

He also suggested that the area would be a good choice for a Cominco Engineering Services Ltd (CESL) alternative to copper smelting. “We’re in a strong copper concentration area,” he said. “Let’s make the best of it.”

Ashcroft Councillor Helen Kormendy pointed out that every year the local communities faced shrinking health services and education. She asked: “When we talk about sustainability, what are we sustaining?”

“How can the provincial government help us to sustain ourselves and call this our home?”

Les replied that the government’s push for jobs and industry was how they would support rural towns.

“Where thre are opportunities to create investment and jobs, we should be all over it,” he said.

“It’s great to talk about how wonderful it is,” said Cache Creek Councillor Wyatt McMurray, “but we had a great industry here at the landfill. You let that industry go. We have a bird in the hand that just got shot, and now we’re looking for another flock. Any healthcare for the bird?”

Les said he supported the landfill and admitted “We’ve got to do better” as a government. He said he would take the message back to Victoria and try to find solutions.